By Philip O’Connor
BERGEN, Norway (Reuters) – Norway winger Guro Reiten is relishing the chance to play in front of a packed house for Chelsea against Tottenham Hotspur as they get their FA Women’s Super League season under way at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The 25-year-old joined Chelsea from Norwegian side LSK Kvinner before showcasing her superb left foot in France, netting Norway’s opening World Cup goal against Nigeria.
“The English league is more physical, it’s tougher, everything goes a little faster, and that’s why I chose to go there, to take the next step,” Reiten told Reuters following Norway’s 2-1 home win over England in a friendly in Bergen this week.
Going to a league made up of full-time players has been an eye-opener for Reiten, who was Norway’s top scorer as LSK won the Toppserien league in both 2017 and 2018.
Known for her love of her small hometown of Sunndalsroera, Reiten joins international team mates Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir at two-times Super League title winners Chelsea and she is under no illusions about the expectations for the season.
“At a club like Chelsea there’s only one thing that counts, and that’s winning – nothing else is good enough, and I hope and believe that we’re going to be up there battling and hopefully finishing top,” she added.
To do so, they will have to take down a brilliant Arsenal side that combined a miserly defence with an electric attack to register 18 wins and just two losses in the league, one of which came at home to Chelsea.
Arsenal’s Irish international Louise Quinn said having teams made up of full-time players has lifted the standard of the WSL considerably, something which will be reflected in tougher opposition this year.
“Being full-time professionals has improved the quality of the league – when you can put in the hours of practice, you are always going to improve as a player,” she explained.
“We are training full time in quality facilities, which makes it easier to perform at the top of our game.”
The FA has also made deals to show the WSL in Scandinavia and Mexico, a decision that has delighted Reiten, and not just because her friends and family back home will be able to watch her perform for her new club.
“What is great about that is that the interest is there, that people really want to see the games, so that’s really fantastic,” she said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge)