The WSL returned at the start of October, following an exciting title race and England’s success at the World Cup. With this set to be the biggest season of the women’s top division so far, we see who is going to stand out. These black women are a mixture of established stars and promising talents, who we think will make an impression.
Following time abroad, Ebony Salmon has returned to the WSL and to her first professional club Aston Villa. This upcoming England International is a known goalscorer, who alongside Rachel Daly will be a threat to most defences. Despite the team’s poor start to the season, her ability to blitz past defenders and cool finishing will help the Villains do well.
This rock-solid centre-back is a pivotal player for both club and country. Carter was almost ever-present in Chelsea’s double-winning campaign (WSL and F.A. Cup) last time out and was crucial in England’s run to the World Cup final. Again, she has helped the Blues remain unbeaten so far this season, with tough tackling and defensive headers key to her game. Off the pitch, the Warwick-born defender is an ambassador for an all-female football academy.
Mary Earps may be the England No. 1, but Khiara Keating is certainly knocking on the door. The Manchester City Rising Star winner has taken the gloves and made her presence known in City’s first team. Her commanding presence on the ball and passing ability in particular stands out, which is a must in the modern game. After receiving her first call-up for England recently, this is set to be her break-out year.
Football certainly runs in this family, and Lauren James is equally as good, if not better than her brother Reece. Her 8 goals last year were crucial to achieving the second double of her career, while she was a star for her country with 3 goals on the world stage. James’ pace and impressive shooting ability make her a nuisance for defenders and a key player in any team. The crucial second goal against Tottenham helped the Blues set the pace in the season opener, and she will be eyeing up title No.3 this campaign.
Having impressively helped Everton finish 6th, Gabby George returned to the club she played for in her youth. Her abilities in attack and defence are equally impressive, linking up well with the attackers and stopping wingers from cutting through at the other end. Her unfortunate ACL injury may have ended her season early, but George has shown how talented she is and Manchester United will miss her. Like James, football runs in the family with former United player Jessie Lingard her cousin.
Possibly one of the finest goalscorers the WSL has ever seen, Khadija Shaw is a phenomenal player. She moved to Manchester City following success with Bordeaux and she’s not looked back since. With 53 goals in 60 games, she is one of City’s key players and deservedly won their Player of the Season last season. She has also proved to be her country’s star player, helping Jamaica become the first Caribbean side to qualify for the World Cup in 2019. Having already scored 3 goals in 3 games this season, it’s set to be another big year for the player nicknamed Bunny.
Another new signing for The Red Devils, Geyse brings bags of skill and experience. She’s won trophies for Benfica and Brazil and helped Barcelona to a League and Champions League double this year. Her 10 goals and 7 assists were important to that success, and she will be vital to United’s season. The pace and strength in the Brazillian’s game make her a handful for any backline. Meanwhile, this forward’s will and determination will make her a fan favourite.
Another key player for the Reggae Girlz who helped them reach the knockout stages was Drew Spence. After 14 successful years at Chelsea and 13 trophies (including 5 WSL titles), she moved across London to Spurs last season. She proved her worth with her strength and touch tackling in the middle. Spence also can pop up in the box and score. With Tottenham sitting 3rd in the league currently, this player’s form will be key to securing a good campaign.
Signed on loan from Lyon, Melvine Malard could prove to be one of the season’s best signings. Already, she has 3 goals including the Manchester club’s first ever in the Champions League. She also brings plenty of experience with 3 French Leagues, 2 French Cups, and 4 Champions Leagues to her name. The French forwards’ goalscoring ability and winning ability will be key. United’s challenge for a first WSL title could be decided by her goals.
As far as new signings go, Ashley Lawrence could be one of the finest of the season. Having attained 123 Canadian caps and 3 trophies at PSG, this versatile player has plenty of experience. She can play at full-back or in midfield with her crossing and long passes able to find forwards from anywhere. With Sam Kerr, Lauren James, and others in attack, Lawrence should have plenty of assists to her name.