Christiansen: Pressure on Gunners to win WSL after Euro exit
Izzy Christiansen believes Arsenal's early Champions League exit has put them under extra pressure to prevent Chelsea winning a fifth successive Women's Super League title.
The Gunners were dumped out in qualifying by Paris FC on penalties after reaching the semi-finals of the competition last term.
That disappointment came despite a busy summer building a squad capable of competing at home and abroad.
And former Everton and Manchester City midfielder Christiansen, who has worked as a Sky Sports pundit since hanging up her boots in May, thinks Jonas Eidevall's side will now be expected to deliver the club's first title since 2018-19.
Speaking ahead of the WSL returning on Sunday, Christiansen told LiveScore: "There's a bit of pressure and eyes on Arsenal to win the league.
"I think with no Champions League, the stakes become a little bit higher for them.
"As a player you want to be in the Champions League. I'm sure there's disappointment with that but I think they'll move on quickly.
"Football doesn't wait for disappointment, you just have to crack on.
"They had a fantastic campaign last term and I think what didn't help in the end was the injuries they had.
"Now they've got huge depth to be able to rotate and account for stuff like that.
"The challenge for the manager is to keep the squad happy.
"He's got a big squad of big-level players, so it'll be fascinating to see how that evolves over the season."
Lesser teams on the rise
A thrilling title race last season saw Arsenal battle it out with Manchester City, Manchester United and evntual winners Chelsea.
But Christiansen, 32, believes the rapidly improving teams lower down the league will make 2023-24 the most competitive WSL season yet.
She added: "It's going to be so tight again and so exciting.
"I think the teams below the top six will have a bigger say this season. I think they'll play more of a part in the top six's results.
"The game is improving each year — by that I mean in the performance side of things — and teams are fitter. When you're fitter, your ability to stay in games increases.
"You might often see teams stay in the game for 60 minutes and then drop off — that's when the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal take over.
"The challenge has to be to stay in games for 90 [minutes] and how can you then get something from the game. It's not enough now to just be in games but still lose.
"The teams lower in the table have the ability to do that. You've got Aston Villa, who had a huge 2022-23 and recruited really well during the summer.
"They're pushing on and trying to challenge at that top end of the table. They're probably the strongest out of the all the other teams in the WSL.
"But teams like Liverpool, Everton, Bristol City, Leicester, West Ham and Tottenham will all have a big say in what happens in the top half."
Watch 35 Women's Super League fixtures exclusively live on Sky Sports and NOW this season, kicking off from October 1.