Revitalised Alessia Russo is ready lead Arsenal's WSL title bid and end the Lionesses' No.9 debate

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When you are England’s No.9, there is pressure. Your job is to score goals and if you are not doing that, then questions will be asked. That's exactly what happened with Alessia Russo last season, the striker netting only 10 goals despite Manchester United achieving a second-placed finish in the Women's Super League, the highest in the club's history, and pushing Chelsea all the way in a title race that went to the final day.

It was a World Cup year and yet the Lionesses' starting centre-forward wasn't the top-scoring Englishwoman in the WSL. That was Rachel Daly. She wasn't second in that list, either. That was Bethany England. Russo was third, sharing that position with team-mate Leah Galton, a winger who had not only matched her 10 goals but also bettered her one assist with four.

It's no wonder many called for Daly to lead the line for the Lionesses in Australia. After all, the Aston Villa star netted 22 times in as many games for a team that finished fifth in the table, picking up the league's Golden Boot and the Player of the Year awards as a result. But England boss Sarina Wiegman kept faith in Russo, and it was repaid when she scored in the quarter-finals and semi-finals to help her country reach a first ever Women's World Cup final.

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Wiegman isn't the only coach with big belief in the 24-year-old, either. In January, Arsenal made a bid that, if accepted, would've made the United striker the most expensive female footballer of all time - despite her only having six months left on her contract. This was a player that Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall wanted a lot.

It took a few months longer than he would've hoped, but with Russo joining the London club on a free this summer, the Arsenal coach has her in his squad now ahead of the 2023-24 WSL season, which kicks-off on Sunday. That Russo goes into this campaign with three goals to her name already this term is a sign that she's going to have a more prolific season, too...