The tenth season of England’s FA Women’s Super League kicks off this weekend with a host of Westfield Matildas shaping up to make their league debuts.
The FA WSL’s twelve teams have attracted dozens of top players from around the world ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, with the Aussies in demand during the recent transfer window.
In this Ultimate Guide, we give you the run-down of every English club featuring a Westfield Matilda.
Coach: Joe Montemurro
2019-20 record (W-D-L): 12-0-3. Finished third.
Overview and Westfield Matildas players: One of the powerhouses of the English game, Arsenal Women's are regular title challengers and were only a handful of points away from claiming a record 16th league title before the 2019-20 season was abruptly suspended due to COVID-19.
More recently, the Gunners were the only English team remaining in any European competition when they made the quarter-finals of the UWCL, where they were ultimately knocked out by French giants PSG.
Coached by Aussie Joe Montemurro, who’s currently in his third season with the club, three Westfield Matildas players have joined Arsenal in the interim period: Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and Lydia Williams.
Arsenal Women has a connection with Australian women going back to the mid 1990s when Sara King lined up for the Gunners as goalkeeper and earlier this year Foord renewed that connection.
While Foord has been with the club the longest, first appearing and scoring for the side in their Women’s FA Cup match against Lewes FC in February, Catley and Williams only linked up with the side in July. Catley made her club debut off the bench in the UWCL quarter-final but Williams is yet to make an appearance.
Arsenal’s squad is comprised of experienced international-level players from across Europe who will push the Westfield Matildas to improve and earn their spots in the starting XI.
Captained by Scotland legend Kim Little and England’s Jordan Nobbs as her deputy, Arsenal are gunning (get it?) for another FA WSL title which will also ensure they get another shot at the UWCL title.
Coach: Tanya Oxtoby
2019-20 record: 2-3-9. Finished 10th
Overview and Westfield Matildas players: Having won promotion to the FAWSL in 2016, Bristol City WFC (formerly Bristol Rovers) have never finished higher than sixth in their time in England’s top-flight, which was when Aussie Tanya Oxtoby first took charge in 2018-19.
Now in her third season at the helm, the former Perth Glory player turned coach has recruited Westfield Matildas midfielder Chloe Logarzo to complement her young squad filled with emerging England internationals including goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley and 19-year-old striker Ebony Salmon. Although she signed for the club in January, the coronavirus shutdown meant Logarzo has made a brief appearance for her new side.
Despite their recent league record, Bristol have a history of deep runs in various competitions, including qualifying for the UEFA Women’s Champions League back in 2011-12 after finishing runners-up in England’s FA Cup the previous season.
Formerly coached by current Everton boss Willie Kirk and ex-Lionesses manager Mark Sampson, the club only barely escaped relegation last season. Oxtoby will be looking to utilise her new recruits to ensure Bristol does not see their top-flight status threatened again.
Australian player note: Joining Logarzo at Bristol City is former Westfield W-League player Ella Mastrantonio, who played alongside Oxtoby at Perth Glory. Mastrantonio signed for the club in June and, alongside Logarzo, will provide an experienced anchor to the Robins’ new-look midfield.
Coach: Emma Hayes
2019-20 record: 12-3-0. Finished first on a points-per-game basis after the season was suspended.
Overview and Westfield Matildas players: Despite being one of the biggest clubs in the world, Chelsea FC’s title history in the women’s top-flight is conspicuously brief: three league titles and three cup trophies since 2014. However, their future ambitions far outweigh their past results, evidenced by their headline-grabbing signing of Westfield Matildas captain Sam Kerr in November 2019.
While a handful of Australians were already plying their trade in Europe, Kerr’s high profile move to England opened the floodgates for over a dozen Westfield Matildas team-mates to follow in her footsteps in the nine months since.
Boasting a wealth of international experience in players like Pernille Harder (Denmark), Millie Bright (England), Maren Mjelde (Norway), Ji So-yun (South Korea), Magdalena Eriksson (Sweden), Sophie Ingle (Wales) and Carly Telford (England), Chelsea FC are also home to some emerging national team stars like 2019/20 Barclays Player of the Season Beth England, Canadian youngster Jessie Fleming, Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert and English youth international Niamh Charles.
Coached by Emma Hayes, who is now in her ninth season with the club, Chelsea FC claimed their third FA WSL title in 2019-20 after just pipping Manchester City on a points-per-game basis. Importantly for the club, they ensured participation in next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League – their fourth competition appearance in five seasons.
Chelsea will be heading into the 2020-21 season as title heavyweights, having recently defeated Manchester City in the Community Shield. Chelsea will be battling for 5 titles this year and it will certainly test the depth and endurance of Hayes’ squad but they have the quality to create even more history.
Coach: Willie Kirk
2019-20 record: 6-1-7. Finished 6th
Overview and Westfield Matildas players: While they’ve played second-fiddle to cross-town rivals Liverpool FC for several seasons, the Reds’ recent relegation from the FAWSL has given the unassuming Everton FC the opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of England’s north-west in the upcoming campaign.
For head coach Willie Kirk, who’s been with the club since 2018 after stints with Manchester United and Bristol City, the 2020-21 season is filled with possibility. Since the league was suspended in July, Kirk has overseen the signing of several international players including Westfield Matildas winger Hayley Raso, French striker Valérie Gauvin, Norwegian defender Ingrid Moe Wold, England veteran Izzy Christiansen and Scottish forward Claire Emslie.
Although they don’t boast a heaving trophy cabinet, Everton have been a club with a history of developing some of women’s football’s biggest stars including Lyon striker Nikita Parris, Atletico Madrid forward Toni Duggan, Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott and England legend Fara Williams.
The club have never finished higher than 3rd in the FAWSL, which they did in the first two seasons of the competition, but have fallen to mid-table places in recent years. Kirk will therefore be looking to his new signings to take his side to a new level and potentially challenge for European places or other domestic Cup competitions, having not won a major trophy since 2017.
Coach: Karen Hills and Juan Amoros
2019-20 record: 6-2-7. Finished 7th.
Overview and Westfield Matildas players: Promoted to the FAWSL in 2018, Tottenham Hotspur Women finished their first season in England’s top-flight mid-table, above longer-standing women’s teams like Birmingham and Liverpool.
Unusually for fully-professional teams, Tottenham is led by two head coaches – Karen Hills and Juan Amoros – who formed a professional partnership in 2011 and led the club out of England’s lower leagues, claiming a number of trophies along the way.
Westfield Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy will be plying her trade with Spurs this season after joining on loan from Orlando Pride in the NWSL, with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the year. She will link up with Football Fern Ria Percival in North London as well as Pride team-mate and former Perth Glory player Shelina Zadorsky.
West Ham United
Coach: Matt Beard
2019-20 record: 5-1-8. Finished 8th.
Overview and Westfield Matildas players: Like Tottenham, West Ham United began far down England’s football pyramid before joining the FAWSL in 2018. They recruited former Chelsea and Liverpool boss Matt Beard for their first fully-professional season, finishing 7th (their best league finish to date), and have since excelled in other domestic competitions like the Women’s FA Cup where they lost the final to Manchester City in 2018-19.
West Ham is one of the most multicultural clubs with players from thirteen different nations making up its squad. This now includes two Westfield Matildas players in goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who signed in July, and Emily van Egmond, who joined the club on loan from Orlando Pride this month.
Both will look to play key roles for the Hammers in critical areas with Arnold already playing a number of pre-season matches in goals.
Australian player note: 19-year-old Victorian and former Westfield Young Matilda Jacynta Galabadaarachchi joined West Ham in July 2019 after a handful of appearances for Melbourne City and Perth Glory in the Westfield W-League.