Chelsea the team to beat as WSL kicks off

Under coach Emma Hayes, Chelsea won the title with a 5-0 thrashing of Reading on the final day of the last season.

Chelsea will be the team to beat when the new Women's Super League season begins on Friday. (FILE PHOTO)   -  GETTY IMAGES

Chelsea will have a target on its backs after blazing a trail to a second successive Women's Super League title last term, and a rejuvenated Arsenal will be the first side to put it to the test when the league gets underway this weekend.

It will not be the only contender as Manchester City and Manchester United seek to mount new title challenges of their own, with Everton also trying to muscle its way into the top echelons of the league.

Under coach Emma Hayes, Chelsea won the title with a 5-0 thrashing of Reading on the final day of the season before going on to lose the Champions League final to Barcelona. The Catalan club's furious pressing may have provided a template to those seeking to derail the ambition of the Blues.

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Arsenal has bolstered its attack by adding England international Nikita Parris to complement feared finisher Vivianne Miedema, and the addition of Norway midfielder Frida Maanum will ensure a regular supply of chances.

Manchester United has had a turbulent off-season, losing coach Casey Stoney and players Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Lauren James, but the addition of another Norwegian, Vilda Boe Risa, will give it a reliable central midfield engine.

Everton's acquisition of teenage Swede Hanna Bennison and her international team mates Anna Anvegard and Nathalie Bjorn from FC Rosengard is a sign that it is hoping to close the gap to the top four after finishing 15 points adrift of them last season.

Newcomer Leicester City may struggle to find its feet, but a new deal with broadcasters BBC and Sky Sports means that the stakes will be higher than ever when Manchester United takes on Reading to open the season on Friday.

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