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The Women's Super League returned on Sunday afternoon with huge interest following the summer's thrilling World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand and won by Spain.
Much of the post-World Cup discussion was dominated by the fall-out of Luis Rubiales allegedly non-consensual ‘celebratory' kiss with Jenni Hermoso, and that continues to rumble on with significant consequences. Other off-pitch concerns continued to cloud matters, with Aston Villa's Castore kit coming under significant criticism for its ‘wet-look', which drew the ire of the club's women's side.
However, this weekend, the attention turned back to on-pitch matters, with a set of exciting fixtures and an awareness that the WSL continues to grow at pace, with even more talented players joining the league's top clubs during the transfer window.
Last year's runners-up Manchester United required an injury-time winner from veteran striker Rachel Williams, Liverpool shocked perennial title challengers Arsenal with a 1-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium and Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion managed away wins at Bristol City and Everton respectively.
Arsenal break WSL attendance record at the Emirates
Records broken? You bet. A 54,115 official attendance at the Emirates Stadium broke the attendance record for the Women's Super League.
A new @BarclaysWSL record 🥇
54,115 is our official attendance 🏟️
Thank you for your outstanding support, Gooners ❤️ pic.twitter.com/7EcyuOhbaj
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) October 1, 2023
It's little surprise, really. Eleven of the dozen WSL clubs broke a club or stadium attendance record last season, and that has regularly been the case over the last few years as the women's game has grown at such pace.
Arsenal's previous largest crowd was 47,367 for the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur last September.
Do all WSL clubs play at their club's primary stadium?
No, but most of them do. In the 2022/23 season, West Ham were the only club not to play at their club's primary stadium. Every other side did so, usually for one or two matches, but sometimes for more.
This season, most clubs have already announced a series of fixtures to be played at their primary stadium. Arsenal have confirmed that five of their 11 home games in the Women's Super League will be hosted at the Emirates Stadium, giving them at least another four attempts to broke this new record.
The Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall believes it's a “realistic vision” for Arsenal Women to play all their home matches at the Emirates in the near future.
“We're moving away from the idea that it's a one-off to sell out the big stadium,” Eidevall said.
“What we want for the sustainability and the growth of the game is to have consistency in selling out big stadiums. That's the next step for women's football. That's the next step for WSL.”
Which WSL clubs play every home match at their main stadium?
What was the score at the record-breaking fixture?
Well, not for the first time, a record-breaking event at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium came with a surprise result.
Back in May, the Gunners sold out the stadium for their UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final clash with German club Vfl Wolfsburg. A 60,063-strong crowd watched on as the visitors scored a 119th-minute winner in a dramatic and thrilling 3-2 victory.
While the crowd against Liverpool on Sunday was a WSL record, then, it didn't come close to Arsenal's crowd in May. That 60,063 figure was the largest crowd to attend a women's club match in England, and will likely last for quite some time.
The Emirates Stadium is one of the biggest in England. The only other clubs with bigger capacities are Manchester United (Old Trafford, 74,310), Tottenham Hotspur (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 62,850) and West Ham United (London Stadium, 62,500). So, the challenge lies with them!
— Layth (@laythy29) October 1, 2023
List of highest WSL attendances ever
- Arsenal vs Liverpool – October 2023 – The Emirates Stadium – 54,115
- Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur – September 2022 – The Emirates Stadium – 47,367
- Arsenal vs Chelsea – January 2023 – The Emirates Stadium – 46,881
- Manchester City vs Manchester United – December 2022 – The Etihad Stadium – 44,259
- Arsenal vs Manchester United – November 2022 – The Emirates Stadium – 40,604
- Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur – November 2022 – Stamford Bridge – 38,350
- Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal – November 2019 – The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – 38,262