Leicester City season preview: Foxes look to make their mark in the WSL

Leicester City midfielder Shannon O'Brien
Leicester City midfielder Shannon O'Brien celebrates with teammates after scoring in the Women's FA Cup match against Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, United Kingdom on 16 May 2021. (Photo by Kevin Warburton)

After winning the FA Women’s Championship, Leicester City gained promotion to the Women’s Super League for the first time in their history. The Foxes are prepared to take on the league this season and all of the challenges that offers.

Looking back at last season

Leicester City had a highly successful season in the FA Women’s Championship in 2020/2021. The side finished with only two losses in the league all season, and set the league record for most consecutive wins with 12.

The Foxes made a great statement with how they have performed across all competitions, becoming a name to remember. During the 2019/20 Vitality Women’s FA Cup, Leicester landed themselves in the quarter-finals but were knocked out after a 2-1 loss to Manchester City. Leicester will continue their 2020/21 FA Cup campaign in the semi-finals, after knocking out Manchester United in a 3-2 win. In the 2020/21 Continental League Cup, Leicester made it to the semi-finals, the farthest they have ever reached in their history.

Making their mark in the WSL

The 2021/22 season will be the first-ever season that the Foxes will be competing in the Women’s Super League after gaining promotion from the Championship. In the league last season, Jonathan Morgan’s side had only two losses all season, against Lewes and London City Lionesses. Leicester will make their WSL debut in a Midlands derby on September 4th against Aston Villa.

New Foxes on the block: Leicester City’s newest additions

During the transfer window, Leicester meant business. With 7 new signings and 11 contract extensions, they are ready to take on a new challenge in the WSL. 

Jess Sigsworth and Abbie McManus

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Joining the Foxes are former Manchester United duo Jess Sigsworth and Abbie McManus. The two bring plenty of WSL experience. Sigsworth will join Natasha Flint up top as a striker and McManus will join the backline as one of the two vice-captains for the season.

Georgia Brougham and Molly Pike

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Everton pairing Georgia Brougham and Molly Pike will also be joining the Foxes from the Merseyside club to continue their WSL journey. Brougham will help strengthen the defense, while Pike will add flair to the midfield. They’ll be linking with current Leicester players, Kirstie Levell and Hannah Cain, who also spent time at Everton prior to joining Leicester.

Abbi Grant and Connie Scofield

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Joining Leicester from the West side of the Midlands are Abbi Grant and Connie Scofield, from WSL club Birmingham City. Grant will join the attack to help add to the heavy attacking threat that Leicester presented last season, with Scofield offering strength in the midfield.

Jemma Purfield

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Jemma Purfield has signed with Leicester after playing at former WSL club Bristol City. The midfielder will provide WSL and global experience after having played at the university level with the South Alabama Jaguars and the Arizona Sun Devils in the United States.

Ones to watch

Paige Bailey-Gayle

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Within the squad, there are numerous young talents who are prepared to showcase their skill in the WSL. Among those talents include forward Paige Bailey-Gayle, who offers immense pace and support down the wing. Bailey-Gayle made 18 appearances with 6 goals with 3 assists. Unfortunately, her season was cut short due to injury. Now, she’s back and prepared to take the WSL by storm.

Shannon O’Brien

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Another young talent who has stood out for Leicester is Shannon O’Brien. The forward joined Leicester in January from Coventry United and has been a consistent threat for opposition ever since. In particular, O’Brien helped the Foxes continue their FA Cup journey after scoring an equalizer against Manchester United in the 3-2 win to place them into the semi-finals of the tournament. 

A new home in the King Power Stadium

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Leicester City continues to make all of the right moves with its women’s side. Team owners gave the staff iPhones and presented gifts for the players; the squad gained Belvoir Drive to use as their training facility. Now, as of August 25, it has been announced that the new home ground for the Foxes will be the King Power Stadium. They will be joining the men’s side, playing the majority of their home matches in the stadium. Their first home match at King Power will be against Manchester United on September 12th. The women’s side will use Pirelli Stadium in Burton as an alternate ground.

Expectations for this season

With this being Leicester’s first-ever season in the top division, it is difficult to predict where they could finish in the league. In preseason, the team played all of their fixtures behind closed doors, but provided extra preparation. The Foxes started off the preseason with a friendly against Liverpool and defeated the Reds in a 6-1 win. Some of the matches were against current WSL sides, including current league champions Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Birmingham City, amongst others. This gave Leicester an idea of what the opposition could look like this season. With this in mind and looking back at the 2020/21 season, Leicester had a highly successful campaign that could transfer into the WSL.

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