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Which records were broken in the opening WSL weekend?

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.

All of Aston Villa, Arsenal and Chelsea hosted their matches at their clubs' primary stadium: Villa Park, the Emirates and Stamford Bridge. So, were any big records set in this opening WSL weekend?

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.

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?

King Power Stadium | Leicester City Women will play all their home games here for the season and could continue to a WSL attendance record
Leicester City Women will play all their home games at the King Power Stadium, one of two WSL clubs to make that commitment | Photo by Icon Sport

Leicester City (King Power Stadium) and Bristol City (Ashton Gate) have both made their primary, bigger stadiums the permanent homes for their women's teams.

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!

List of highest WSL attendances ever

  1. Arsenal vs Liverpool – October 2023 – The Emirates Stadium – 54,115
  2. Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur – September 2022 – The Emirates Stadium – 47,367
  3. Arsenal vs Chelsea – January 2023 – The Emirates Stadium – 46,881
  4. Manchester City vs Manchester United – December 2022 – The Etihad Stadium – 44,259
  5. Arsenal vs Manchester United – November 2022 – The Emirates Stadium – 40,604
  6. Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur – November 2022 – Stamford Bridge – 38,350
  7. Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal – November 2019 – The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – 38,262

Harry Robinson

A freelance writer and broadcaster, Harry has worked for or featured in/on Manchester United, FourFourTwo, The Independent, The Manchester Mill, UEFA, United We Stand and many others. He's the author of The Men Who Made Manchester United and hosts the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. A Stretford End season ticket holder, Harry travels around Europe to watch his team.

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