The best moments from the Women's Super League's first decade

13 April 2021 06:00

It's been ten years since Arsenal bagged a 1-0 win over Chelsea in the first ever Women's Super League game, and it's hard to wrap your head around just how much women's football has changed since then.

In England, what began as a semi-pro, eight-team setup is now a professional, two-tier system worth millions and millions, and there have been so many memorable moments along the way which have helped the WSL blossom into what it is today.

Let's take a look at ten of the best.


1. Liverpool end Arsenal's dominance (29/09/13)

Arsenal won the first two WSL titles which, when added to their seven previous Premier League glories, had them on a run of nine consecutive titles heading into the 2013 WSL season.

Not only did their reign come to an end that season, but it did so at the hands of Liverpool, who had finished bottom of the table two years in a row prior to that.

Goals from Louise Fors and Katrin Omarsdottir fired Liverpool to a 2-0 win over runners-up Bristol on the final day of the season to seal the unlikeliest of title wins.


2. Liverpool retain in dramatic fashion (12/10/14)

The final day of the 2014 season saw Chelsea sit atop of the table, Birmingham two points behind and Liverpool an extra point back. The Reds could still retain their title, but would need Chelsea to lose as part of a three-goal swing, as well as Birmingham to drop points.

Can you guess what happened?

Chelsea were clear favourites but were stunned 2-1 by newcomers Manchester City, while Birmingham drew 2-2 with Notts County, allowing Liverpool to leapfrog them both and retain the title on goal difference with a 3-0 win over Bristol.


3. Ellen White's viral free-kick (02/03/15)

We all love a good free-kick routine, and Ellen White offered up exactly that in Notts County's 1-1 draw with Arsenal in early 2015.

Initially part of the wall, White was part of a three-player pile-up as the trio acted as though they had messed the routine up, only for White to peel away and unleash a fantastic strike when nobody was watching, offering up a highlight which went viral on social media.

"We have been working on things a little bit differently in pre-season," she told BBC Radio Nottingham. "I'm pleased it went in because I've skied it over the bar and it has gone wide, but thankfully that one went in."


4. Chelsea sign Fran Kirby (08/07/15)

Chelsea changed the game by signing Kirby | Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

Chelsea's decision to sign England star Fran Kirby from Reading for a British-record fee of around £50,000 was a landmark moment for the WSL.

Before this deal, female footballers rarely commanded transfer fees, and the idea of splashing a cool £50k on one player was unheard of. Chelsea chose to dismiss the status quo and broke the bank to sign a player billed as England's 'mini-Messi'.

In opened the door to more money changing hands in the WSL, and before the decade was over, Chelsea would bump the transfer record up to £250,000 with the signing of perhaps the best player in the world, Pernille Harder.


5. Jordan Nobbs ends Man City's unbeaten run (28/05/17)

Arsenal handed City their first home defeat in nearly two years with an outrageous free-kick from Jordan Nobbs in May 2017.

75 minutes deep into the game, Nobbs unleashed a long-range thunderbolt which swerved its way into the top corner with impossible accuracy. It was such a powerful strike that Nobbs even gave herself cramp.

Nobbs' penchant for a screamer has been a highlight of the first WSL decade, but this goal stands out from the bunch.


6. Emma Mitchell ends City's Invincible push (11/05/19)

Arsenal had already secured the WSL title when they faced City in May 2019, so their biggest focus was ensuring the runners-up wouldn't finish the season unbeaten.

It looked like City were going to manage the feat, but in the 88th minute, Emma Mitchell stepped up and unleashed what has gone down as one of the greatest goals in WSL history.

Mitchell could hardly believe her eyes as she stopped to process how her 25-yard cannon strike had actually hit the back of the net.


7. Spurs & Arsenal set attendance record (17/11/19)

With the profile of women's football growing, the decision was made to move some games to men's stadiums in order to allow more fans in. The attendance record for a non-Premier League sits at 4,790, but the bigger stage brought bigger audiences.

The WSL's inaugural Manchester derby brought a crowd of 31,213 at the Etihad, but just two months later, that record was sent tumbling when Tottenham welcomed Arsenal at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Gunners' 2-0 win was watched by a whopping 38,262 fans, proving to the world that women's football just needed the platform to prove its popularity.


8. Vivianne Miedema completes football (01/12/19)

The best goalscorer in WSL history, Vivianne Miedema has plenty of memorable moments, but few were better than her performance in Arsenal's 11-1 win over Bristol City in 2019.

In what is the biggest victory in WSL history, Miedema walked away with no fewer than six goals and four assists from the game (and she even assisted the assist for the 11th), setting the record for most goal involvements in a single game in the process.

The previous record belonged to Miedema, whose five contributions against Liverpool in 2018 (three goals, two assists) seems a bit rubbish now.


9. Sophie Ingle's Puskas nominee (19/01/20)

Sam Kerr scoring her first Chelsea goal stole the headlines of the Blues' 4-1 win over Arsenal in 2020, but the crowning moment of the game was a glorious volley from Sophie Ingle that saw her nominated for the Puskas Award.

As the ball dropped towards Ingle on the edge of the area, there was clearly only one thing on her mind - 'ave it.

The Chelsea star fizzed a sumptuous left-footed strike right into the top corner with pinpoint accuracy, leaving goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger grasping at air.


10. The entire summer 2020 transfer window

Heath & Press were two of the signings of the summer | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The WSL hasn't always been the most desirable location for top stars. The USA's NWSL dominated for a long time, while there was plenty of success to be had in Europe, but things changed in the summer of 2020.

Harder to Chelsea. Alex Morgan to Tottenham. Tobin Heath and Christen Press to Manchester United. Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Lucy Bronze to Manchester City. The list goes on.

Any doubts over whether established stars would want to play in England were put to bed in the 2020 summer transfer window, and long may that trend continue.


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Source: 90min