Chelsea are flying; reigning WSL champions for a fourth consecutive time, a successful transfer window and in prime position to challenge for the league and Champions League once again.
It seems like nothing can stop Emma Hayes' Blues from winning on English soil, having stormed to the WSL title and FA Cup last season to complete a third consecutive domestic double. They also reached the Conti Cup final and were Champions League semi-finalists.
Ahead of the 2023/24 campaign, Chelsea have added depth to their squad, bidding farewell to some veterans, whilst placing themselves in the driving seat to run for their fifth consecutive league title.
Chelsea Women 2022/23 season recap
Four months ago, Chelsea were crowned WSL champions for a fourth time in a row, defeating Reading on the final day to secure their finish ahead of chief challengers Manchester United and set a new league points record (58) in the process.
Last season, everything pretty much went to plan for the Blues. Losing the Conti Cup final would have been tough for Hayes, yet that defeat to Arsenal in March propelled the side on to storm through in the WSL title race and claim the FA Cup once again - they beat Manchester United in the final.
Injuries also hit the Blues, with Pernille Harder, Fran Kirby and Millie Bright all absent for significant periods of the campaign. Kadeisha Buchanan, Erin Cuthbert and Jelena Cankovic also spent time on the sidelines. But it rarely troubled Chelsea, who managed to keep the WSL in their sights and reach the Champions League semi-final without their first choice defenders.
Chelsea Women key players 2023/24
Although previously established as a top flght quanity with former club Manchester United, Lauren James had a breakout season with Chelsea in 2022/23, making a name for herself in such a prominent way. Coined 'cheat code' by her teammates, James' ability to control the ball, work spaces left by opposition and net impressive goals leaves her opponents spellbound.
Gripping fans and quickly becoming a fan favourite, James is in an optimal position to challenge for the Golden Boot. Winning the PFA Young Player of the Season and announcing herself on the world stage, making significant contributions to the Lionesses' World Cup run, James will only have grown over the past 12 months, making her Chelsea's brightest star.
One to watch
Mia Fishel signed for Chelsea from Tigres in Mexico and the prolific goalscorer is one budding and exciting talent that will do wonders under Hayes. Like so many youngsters before her, Fishel was brought to Chelsea to grow and develop, having shown such promise up to now.
The newly capped USWNT player will liklely spend a lof of the season on the bench, becoming an impact sub, allowing her to grow into a new league and new club at her own pace, something Hayes has become known for. Yet already knowing her ability to find the back of the net, FIshel will no doubt be gunning to score when she is let loose in the WSL and is one to keep an eye on.
Chelsea Women manager
Probably the most notable and inevitable manager in the women's game, Hayes' reputation of winning precedes her. Building a team to challenge across Europe, Hayes has almost won it all and will be looking to add the missing piece of the puzzle, the Champions League trophy this season.
Hayes has led Chelsea's winning ways, setting standards incredibly high for her players to be competing to but now faces new challenges this season. The gaps between the top and bottom of the WSL are closing - Chelsea almost missed out on the title last season after dropped points against Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal nearly allowed Manchester United to creep through.
With other teams strengthening around them and the league ever changing, Hayes will once again have to adapt, whilst also balancing the art of competing in Europe as well.
If Hayes does not succeed in securing a Champions League trophy, the manager, entering her 12th year with the club, could depart at the end of the season, having run out of answers to win it all.
Chelsea Women summer transfers
- Nicky Evrard (GK) - OH Leuven - details
- Sjoeke Nusken (MF) - Eintracht Frankfurt - details
- Catarina Macario (MF) - Lyon - details
- Alejandra Bernabe (DF) - Atletico Madrid - details
- Ashley Lawrence (DF) - PSG - details
- Hannah Hampton (GK) - Aston Villa - details
- Brooke Aspin (DF) - Bristol City
- Mia Fishel (FW) - Tigres UANL
- Wieke Kaptein (MF) - Twente
- Magdalena Eriksson (DF) - Bayern Munich - details
- Pernille Harder (FW) - Bayern Munich - details
- Alejandra Bernabe (DF) - Real Sociedad - loan - details
- Brooke Aspin (DF) - Bristol City - loan
- Reanna Blades (FW) - Lewes - loan
- Emily Orman (GK) - Reading - loan
- Charlotte Wardlaw (DF) - Glasgow City - loan
- Alsu Abdullina (DF) - Paris FC - loan
- Lexi Potter (MF) - Crystal Palace - loan
- Wieke Kaptein (MF) - Twente - loan
- Emma Thompson (FW) - Southampton
- Nicky Evrard (GK) - Brighton - loan
It was a promising window for Chelsea, with their main focus on building the future. Bringing in a stack of young talent - a couple have immediately been loaned out, Hayes has tried to make it a long-term plan rather than find direct replacements for those like Pernille Harder and former captain Magdalena Eriksson who have moved on, something the club have been criticised for in the past.
Replacing a few departees, finally scoring a full-back in Ashley Lawrence they have been after for some time and landing Catarina Macario, Chelsea added significant depth to the squad, ensuring their bases across the pitch are covered to be able to compete in the WSL and UWCL simulanteously.
At one stage, the arrivals of Hannah Hampton and Nicky Evrard had swelled the goalkeeping ranks to five, with four internationals. But Evrard left for Brighton on loan on transfer deadline day, with young talent Emily Orman also loaned out to Reading to help her develop.
Chelsea WSL prediction
At this point, it is hard to imagine any other club beating Chelsea to the punch. Yet the toll competiting across Europe and at the top of the WSL takes on depth, player availability and managerial tactics, this could be the season where Chelsea's standards drop.
If any team can complete a run of five titles in a row, it is Hayes and the Blues. But it will likely go down to the wire once again. Tipping Chelsea to go far in the Champions League, it is likely they will drop a few WSL points along the way and as the gaps in quality close, this could be what denies the reigning champions another title.