The biggest contingent of Matildas stars ever to play in England’s Women’s Super League (WSL) launched their 2023-24 season with mixed results – and with the biggest name of all, Sam Kerr, left having to sit out opening day with injury.
Of the 13 Australian players now featuring in England’s top flight, it was a proved a tough day for Arsenal’s high-profile trio of Matildas – Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and new signing Kyra Cooney-Cross following a surprise 1-0 loss to Liverpool.
Despite the first-up defeat, Arsenal did make history at the Emirates Stadium, where a record-breaking 54,115 fans were in attendance.
It broke the WSL record.
Catley and Foord both played the full 90 but substitute Cooney-Cross only got a brief cameo after being introduced in the 86th minute as Arsenal, already out of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, suffered a severe setback on launch day.
At Stamford Bridge, Matildas superstar Kerr turned up to cheer on her Chelsea teammates even though she was evidently not properly fit enough yet to be included in the champions’ squad to face London rivals Tottenham on Sunday (Monday AEDT) following her injury-hit FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Kerr’s fantastic semi-final goal against England just under six weeks ago had left Blues fans hopeful that she’d be flying by the time the season started yet she was still not considered ready to lead the line after her calf trouble.
The good news for Chelsea was that Kerr’s replacement, new American signing Mia Fishel scored on her debut to ensure the Blues, this season going for a fifth title in a row, made another successful start with a 2-1 victory.
Elsewhere, Matildas goalkeeper and new West Ham captain Mackenzie Arnold saved a penalty but she could not prevent the Hammers from falling to a 2-0 defeat against a Manchester City team featuring Mary Fowler and Alanna Kennedy.
Brighton and Hove Albion, for whom new Sydney FC signing Charlie Rule came on a substitute, earned a 2-1 victory at Everton, who also gave a late cameo to their own Aussie, Clare Wheeler, while Courtney Nevin featured in Leicester City’s 4-2 win at Bristol City.