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Can Chelsea be toppled and broadcast boost - 5 talking points for new WSL season

Emma Hayes' Blues are looking to win the title for a third successive season and for fourth time in five years.

The new Women's Super League season kicks off this week, with the opening match seeing Manchester United host Reading at Leigh Sports Village on Friday evening.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at five talking points ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Chelsea the team to beat again?

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrates with the Women's Super League trophy
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrates with the Women's Super League trophy earlier this year (John Walton/PA)

The reigning WSL champions will be looking to make it three titles on the bounce and four in five years when they begin their season against Arsenal on Sunday.

It could be another close competition at the top again for the Blues with a number of sides hoping to push on from last term to challenge the Champions League finalists.

Manchester City, runners-up for the last four seasons, finished just two points behind the champions in 2020-21 while Arsenal and Manchester United, who were third and fourth respectively, are both under new management and will be determined to put pressure on the top two.

What's next for Manchester United?

Still a young club in the WSL, United built a solid team and performed well under Casey Stoney last season as they just missed out on a Champions League spot, finishing a point behind Arsenal.

Stoney left at the end of May before taking over at San Diego NWSL, having been in charge of United since their formation in 2018.

United are under new leadership with Marc Skinner at the helm and his side are beginning to take shape for the new season with several new additions over the summer, including Vilde Boe Risa and Aoife Mannion.

New horizons for the Foxes

Leicester are the new kids on the block following their promotion from the Championship, where they only lost two games last season, and they begin their first-ever WSL season against Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Foxes have made a statement about their intentions going forward as a club, with the King Power Stadium being used for their home games this season and Burton's Pirelli Stadium in case of fixture clashes.

Can Birmingham avoid relegation blues?

Birmingham and Bristol City were battling to avoid relegation last season
Birmingham and Bristol City were battling to avoid relegation last season (David Davies/PA)

Bristol City were relegated last season with just 12 points from 22 games, but Birmingham, Villa and West Ham were also lingering around the drop zone.

Birmingham finished with 14 points and made headlines with players sending a letter to the club's hierarchy complaining of a lack of support.

This season is hopefully a fresh start for the Blues and there have been several new additions and changes within the club, including new signing Louise Quinn becoming captain and the appointment of Scott Booth as head coach.

Broadcast boost

Earlier this year it was announced that a "game-changing" new deal had been agreed for WSL games to be broadcast on Sky Sports and the BBC.

Previously matches had been shown on BT Sport or BBC iPlayer, but this three-year deal, understood to be worth around £7million to £8m per season, suggests greater coverage and exposure of the women's game and will also see clubs benefit financially.

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