WSL fixtures announced: Man Utd vs Chelsea, Arsenal vs Reading and Aston Villa vs Man City on opening weekend

The new WSL season kicks off on September 5, with Chelsea reigning champions

Casey Stoney has led Manchester United to fourth in their first season in the Women's Super League 0:35
Manchester United Women's manager Casey Stoney is looking forward to facing the WSL champions Chelsea on the opening weekend of the new season

WSL champions Chelsea will go to Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season, while Manchester City are at newly-promoted Aston Villa.

Emma Hayes' Chelsea, who were crowned champions in June on a points-per-game basis, overtaking Manchester City, go to Casey Stoney's United, who finished fourth in their debut top-tier season, with all games behind closed doors.

Lianne Sanderson 1:24
Former England forward Lianne Sanderson believes the women's game has been mistreated amid the coronavirus pandemic after the Women's Super League and Women's Championship seasons were ended

Arsenal also host Reading on the opening weekend, while Brighton host Birmingham, Everton are at Bristol City, and West Ham go to London rivals Tottenham, with matches played over the weekend of September 5 and 6.

On the second weekend (September 12/13), Chelsea are at home to Bristol City, United are at Birmingham and Manchester City host Brighton.

The Women's Super League season was cancelled with the FA unable to fund a similar coronavirus testing programme to that of the Premier League and Championship
Image: Chelsea are reigning champions of the WSL

In the Championship, relegated Liverpool host Durham on the first weekend, before going to London Bees the following week.

The WSL says further fixtures will be announced in due course.

Women's Super League fixtures

September 5
Aston Villa vs Manchester City (2.30pm)

Also See:

September 6
Arsenal vs Reading (12.30pm)
Brighton vs Birmingham City (2pm)
Bristol City vs Everton (2pm)
Tottenham vs West Ham (2pm)
Manchester United vs Chelsea (2.30pm)

September 12
West Ham v Arsenal (5.20pm)

September 13
Chelsea vs Bristol City (12.30pm)
Everton vs Tottenham (1pm)
Birmingham City vs Manchester United (2pm)
Manchester City vs Brighton (2pm)
Reading vs Aston Villa (2pm)

Women's Championship fixtures

September 6 (all 2pm)
Charlton Athletic vs Crystal Palace
Coventry United vs London Bees
Leicester City vs Blackburn Rovers
Liverpool vs Durham
London City Lionesses vs Sheffield United
Free Week: Lewes

September 12
Crystal Palace vs London City Lionesses (7pm)
Second matchday (September 12/13)
Durham vs Lewes (12pm)
Blackburn Rovers vs Charlton Athletic (1pm)
London Bees vs Liverpool (2pm)
Sheffield United vs Leicester City (2pm)
Free Week: Coventry United

Season dates and format

The new WSL season kicks off on September 5, with 12 teams battling it out.

The winners will qualify for the Champions League group stage, while second place qualifies for the Champions League second round and third qualifies for the first round.

The bottom two will be relegated to the Women's Championship.

What happened last year? Chelsea champions on PPG

The finalised Women's Super League table based on points-per-game
Image: The finalised 2019/20 Women's Super League table based on points-per-game

The 2019/20 season was cut short due to Coronavirus after 16 matchweeks, with Emma Hayes' Chelsea winning the title on a points-per-game of 2.60, ahead of Manchester City on 2.50. Chelsea donated their title-winning prize money to charity Refuge, and will be going for a fourth title in seven years this season.

At the point of the league's suspension in March, Manchester City were top of the WSL on 40 points from 16 games while Chelsea were a point behind having played one fewer game.

Clubs selected option one, which saw the tables decided on a basic points-per-game system and also meant Aston Villa are promoted as champions of the Women's Championship, and Liverpool were relegated.

What's changed? Transfers and managers

Manager-wise, Birmingham City's Marta Tejedor left the club in early March, and has been replaced by interim boss Charlie Baxter, while Manchester City interim Alan Mahon, who replaced departing manager Nick Cushing in February, has himself been replaced by Welshman Gareth Taylor for the coming season.

preview image 0:29
Manchester City Women head coach Gareth Taylor says it is crucial his side make a strong start to the WSL season as they bid to win the title back from Chelsea

The transfer window has been open since June 19 and will run until September 10, with several clubs bringing in fresh faces.

Chelsea have been busy, signing Canada international midfielder Jessie Fleming, while Blues striker Beth England has committed her long-term future to the club, signing a new four-year deal. Chelsea also signed Melanie Leupolz (Bayern Munich) and Niamh Charles (Liverpool).

Emma Hayes was appointed Chelsea Women manager in August 2012
Image: Emma Hayes' champions Chelsea have been busy during the summer

Arsenal signed Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, as well as Stephanie Catley, Malin Gut and Noelle Martiz, and Reading Women signed England and former Arsenal forward Danielle Carter, who was a free agent, as well as Emma Mitchell from Arsenal and Deanna Cooper from Chelsea.

At Manchester City, Jill Scott announced she would become a player-coach at the club, Gemma Bonner signed a new two-year deal, Chloe Kelly joined on a free transfer after leaving Everton, and across the City Lizzie Arnot left Manchester United, but United did sign Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham) Ona Battle (Levante) and Ivana Fuso (Basel).

Newcomers Aston Villa have also been busy, signing Chloe Arthur (Aston Villa, Anita Asante (Chelsea), Diana Silva (Sporting Portugal), Lisa Weiss (Lyon), Caroline Siems (Turbine Potsdam), Ramona Petzelberger (Essen) and Stine Larsen (FC Fleury 91).

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