What is the Women's Super League?

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new league will raise standards in women's football - Powell

The FA Women's Super League revealed a bright new dawn for the game when the inaugural season began on Wednesday 13 April.

Arsenal beat Chelsea Ladies, in a match shown live on ESPN, in the first of 56 fixtures over the course of the summer.

Eight teams - which also include Birmingham City, Bristol Academy Ladies, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Everton, Lincoln Ladies and Liverpool - will battle it out for the first Super League title.

But unlike the women's Premier League, which will continue in winter, the FA has spent £3m to back Super League teams, allowing them to sign players on semi-professional contracts and hopefully raise standards.

Here, with help from players for each team, BBC Sport profiles the clubs, the players and provides all the information you need to support your local team over the summer.

ARSENAL - STRIKER ELLEN WHITE

Pedigree: A dominant force in women's football for so long they will start as favourites to win the first Super League title. They have won 22 major honours including 12 Premier League titles and 10 FA Cups.

Home ground: Meadow Park

Manager: Laura Harvey

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Faye White: a huge step for women's football

Key players: "England and Arsenal captain Faye White is one of the best defenders in the country," says striker Ellen White. "Midfielder Katie Chapman is a real powerhouse and an absolutely tremendous player, and Kim Little is a Scottish player who is really skilful."

Players to follow on Twitter: Steph Houghton ("a bit of a character"), Faye White ("a Twitterholic and in a race with England team-mate Jill Scott to get the most followers").

Season's chances: "Everyone wants to beat us and we want to go out there and prove ourselves," adds White. "Every game will be tough but hopefully we can go out there and prove we are still the best women's team in the country."

BIRMINGHAM CITY - STRIKER KAREN CARNEY

Pedigree: Formed in 1968, the Ladies side have only recently teamed up with the men's team but have been quick to sign former Arsenal striker Karen Carney after her stay in the United States with the Chicago Red Stars.

Home ground:The DCS Stadium

Manager: David Parker

Key players: "All the players are key. People should come along and then they can pick their own favourites. We are lucky at Birmingham that we are all talented," striker Carney says.

Players to follow on Twitter: "Laura Bassett and Emily Westwood are quite funny people to follow," she adds. "We have some interesting characters in the dressing room. In the WSL the fans can come and talk to the players after the games so they can make up their own minds. I'm also a Twit myself."

Season's chances: A quiet confidence from Carney suggests they may surprise a few teams but a mid-table finish appears the strongest likelihood.

BRISTOL ACADEMY LADIES - GOALKEEPER SIOBHAN CHAMBERLAIN

Pedigree: A bit of an unknown quantity, Bristol have taken a more holistic approach as they are not affiliated to a men's team. They have recruited two players from the Netherlands to bolster their chances.

Home ground: The Stoke Gifford Stadium

Manager: Mark Sampson

Key players: Captain Corinne Yorston, Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock and Dutch midfielder Anouk Hoogendijk. "Both of them played in Netherlands last year and Anouk has looked top quality," says goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.

Players to follow on Twitter: "Striker Ann-Marie Heatherson, she is very lively, has the most banter in the team and is one to watch."

Season's chances: "We are definitely underdogs and I think people will underestimate us because people don't know about us but we've got the ability and a great squad. The club is run through a college but if you are at teams like Arsenal, Chelsea or Everton you are not the priority within the club. The men's team is their priority but at Bristol we are the main concern."

CHELSEA LADIES - DEFENDER KYLIE DAVIES

Pedigree: Chelsea were promoted to the Premier League in 2005 and have brought in six new players for the start of the WSL season.

Home ground: Tooting and Mitcham FC

Manager: Matt Beard

Key players: "Former Arsenal striker Helen Lander who is a great goalscorer and also goalkeeper Drew Spence who has great potential," says skipper Kylie Davies.

Players to follow on Twitter: "Sophie Perry is a good one, she likes a good bit of banter before the game."

Season's chances: "We are well supported by the club and the men are fully behind us so we hope we can push on to the top."

DONCASTER ROVERS BELLES - DEFENDER MARIA KARLSSON

Pedigree: Formed in 1969, the Doncaster Belles are one of the most successful teams in women's football having won two Premier League titles and six FA Cups. In 1991 the club began to share the ground with the Doncaster Rovers men's team and still do.

Home ground: The Keepmoat Stadium

Manager: John Buckley

Key players: Captain Katie Holtham, striker Millie Bright ("only 17 but a rising star," says Swedish defender Maria Karlsson), Canadian midfielder Kylla Sjoman.

Players to follow on Twitter: "My centre-back partner Victoria Williams is so funny and is very charismatic but she's also a really good player," Karlsson adds.

Season's chances: "I played Chelsea and Liverpool in the Champions League and it's hard to say what our chances are but I definitely think we should be aiming for the top four."

EVERTON - STRIKER TONI DUGGAN

Pedigree: Formed in 1983, the Toffees have won two FA Cups including last season's memorable victory over Arsenal. They could be Arsenal's biggest challengers having finished second to them in the last two Premier League seasons.

Home ground: The Arriva Stadium

Manager: Mo Marley is only the second woman in England to earn the Uefa Pro Licence after England coach Hope Powell.

Key players: Captain Jody Handley, England striker Natasha Dowie, England midfielders Fara Williams and Jill Scott and England keeper Rachel Brown.

Players to follow on Twitter: "Jill Scott is always around the place cracking jokes and lightens up the mood," says striker Toni Duggan. "Rachel Unitt is a quieter one but is always there to pop up with jokes. There is also me, Toni Duggan!"

Season's chances: "It's going to be a good battle this year. We've finished second the last two years so we think our time is coming. Winning the first WSL would be a great way to start."

LINCOLN LADIES - STRIKER SUE SMITH

Pedigree: A host of new players, including former Chelsea captain Casey Stoney, and coaches have been brought in and some of the team have been sharing a house to improve team spirit.

Home ground: Ashby Avenue

Manager: "Rod Wilson is a man who likes Barcelona and he likes his teams to play that way," says England and Lincoln striker Sue Smith. "But he says exactly what he thinks and can rant a bit if he needs to."

Key players: "Captain Megan Harris, Casey Stoney and Sophie Bradley who has the potential to be a future England captain. Jess Clarke is a flair player and perhaps unknown centre-forward Carla Cantrell."

Players to follow on Twitter: "Casey Stoney and Sue Smith of course! Midfielder Bonnie Horwood is an absolute lunatic. You'll be able to see her because she gets a spray tan every week, she's bright orange and has white hair. She's a lovely girl and we need to get her on Twitter soon!"

Season's chances: "We've got a lot of young and more experienced internationals so we've got quite a nice balance. It all depends on the first game and hopefully we can go from there. We want to compete with all the top teams like Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea."

LIVERPOOL - DEFENDER SAM CHAPPELL

Pedigree: Formed as Newton Ladies in 1989, the club became Liverpool Ladies in 1994. They easily won the FA Premier Northern League last year, which is a step down from the Premier League, but the WSL is sure to offer a far bigger test.

Home ground: Skelmersdale & Ormskirk College Stadium

Manager: "Robbie Johnson worked in the Liverpool Academy before and he likes to get the ball down and play flowing football," says defender Sam Chappell.

Key players: Captain Vicky Jones, striker Katie Brusell and Scottish forward Ruesha Littlejohn.

Players to follow on Twitter: "Jo Traynor is the one with the banter. I used to wear white boots last year but I've stopped wearing them I got the mick taken out of me that much!"

Season's chances: "We've signed lots of new players, including several internationals so we are hoping we can close the gap to teams like our local rivals Everton."

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