The FA WSL has been full of drama in 2017, from exciting transfers to clubs collapsing, there have been plenty of highs and lows – and that’s before talking about what happened on the pitch.
The ‘big three’ of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal appeared to reign supreme once more, but across the two leagues there was no end of individual talent on show. As such, the following top 10 for 2017 isn’t simply comprised of players from the teams that head the WSL 1 table. It considers young players, seasoned internationals, strikers, goalkeepers and, hopefully, a genuine reflection of some of the best players the WSL had to offer this year.
10. Claire Emslie / Manchester City
Emslie was a creative spark on the wing for Bristol City during the Spring Series and has only improved since her move to Manchester City. With 5 goals WSL competitions in 2017, the 23-year-old has been one of the best young talents on show and is really unlocking her potential at the league leaders.
9. Gabby George / Everton
At 20, George is another one of the best young players in the league and is worthy of her place on this list for her commanding performances for Everton. She appears to have managed the transition from WSL 2 to the top flight with ease and was rewarded for her outstanding defensive displays with her first senior call-up to the England squad.
8. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk / Doncaster Belles, Everton
Another Everton player who has made the jump between the two divisions in women’s football this season, Sweetman-Kirk was the best WSL 2 had to offer in the Spring Series and was deservingly snapped up by Everton. After a brief adjustment period the goals are flowing again for the 27-year-old with 13 in this calendar year and she was named November’s WSL 1 Player of the Month.
7. Caroline Weir / Liverpool
Liverpool’s top scorer during the Spring Series has netted an impressive eight goals in 2017 and has helped the Red’s stay within touching distance of the top three so far in the 2017-18 season. Weir’s 30-yard screamer against Sunderland in March was proof of how much of a threat she poses in attack and still only 22-years-old she has plenty more to offer.
6. Drew Spence / Chelsea
The Spring Series belonged to Drew Spence. With Chelsea starting 2017 with one of the strongest attacking units we’ve seen in the WSL, Spence was a somewhat unexpected source of goals, grabbing four in seven appearances as Emma Hayes’ side marched to the title. It’s clear she hasn’t slowed up yet, with another four goals in WSL competitions in the latter part of the year.
5. Steph Houghton / Manchester City
England’s talisman and Manchester City’s ever present force in the back line has remained at the top of her game in 2017. Despite losing out on the Spring Series title on the final day, Houghton’s leadership from defence has been essential for sustaining success in Nick Cushing’s side. The 29-year-old’s offensive potential has also been important for City – her forays further up the pitch to deliver free-kicks have been effective to say the least.
4. Millie Bright / Chelsea
As the other half of the Lionesses’ centre-back pairing, Bright has been vital in maintaining Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the 2017-18 season. Her defensive assuredness was key as the Blues marched to the Spring Series title, not to mention her versatility in being able to step up into a defensive midfield role if needed. Chelsea’s front line wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective without the distribution and sense of security Bright provides behind them.
3. Ann-Katrin Berger / Birmingham City
Berger was easily the best goalkeeper in the WSL in 2017 although that is not necessarily reflected on paper by Birmingham’s defensive record. In the most literal sense, the German shot-stopper is a safe pair of hands but she has also pulled off some spectacular saves to keep Marc Skinner’s side in the game. Another string to her bow is her ability to turn defence into attack with pinpoint distribution. Birmingham and all WSL fans will miss seeing her between the sticks in 2018 and we wish her a speedy recovery.
2. Izzy Christiansen / Manchester City
In 2017 Nick Cushing’s Manchester City have looked something they weren’t in 2016: beatable. They have, however, managed to maintain their spot at the top of the WSL 1 table and that is in large part thanks to Christiansen’s performances. From winning (and scoring) penalties to hunting down possession the 26-year-old has been the beating heart for City and her never-day-die attitude has been crucial in grabbing a few last-minute winners when matches might have been heading for a draw.
1. Jordan Nobbs / Arsenal
In a year when Arsenal have seemed a bit stagnant, Jordan Nobbs has kicked on and has been the difference when the Gunners have been in hot water. Her creativity from central midfield, in addition to a penchant for scoring spectacular goals has lit up the league and been a real pleasure to watch. On top of that, Nobbs’ ability to dictate the tempo of a match is hugely influential, not to mention her insane physical fitness, which allows her to pull the strings from the first minute to the last. They way she reads the game allows her to pull the strings for Arsenal and she could certainly walk into a starting place in any one of Europe’s top clubs.