After some very heated discussions our writers were able to reach a collective agreement over the starting XI, happy enough with a vastly talented bench. We at VAVEL hope we haven't upset any hardcore fans with our selection, but we simply didn't have room for everyone.
The starting XI - GK – Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal)
Statistically not the best goalkeeper this season, the office was in agreement that Arsenal’s Dutch number one had been the better 'keeper throughout the year, under considerably more fire than her City counterpart, Sari van Veenendaal has proved herself one of the best in the world.
LB – Kerys Harrop (Birmingham City)
In a season of wholesale changes for the Blues, Kerys Harrop has remained one of their most senior players, a consistent defender in a team that prides itself on a watertight backline, Harrop has come up trumps at both ends of the pitch contributing three goals in a steady season.
CB – Jennifer Beattie (Manchester City)
Arguably not a centre-back by trade but a defensive midfielder who’s grown into the role following long term injuries to Abbie McManus and Megan Campbell, former Gunner Jen Beattie has grown into the newer role this season, a veritable force in defence, very few attackers find a way to get past City’s Scottish Amazonian.
CB – Aoife Mannion (Birmingham City)
The only other Birmingham player to make our best XI, Aoife Mannion has continued to grow and improve this year, a key component in Birmingham’s defensive success this year our writers were in agreement that the 19-year-old made the grade.
RB – Lucy Bronze (Manchester City) - Player of the Year
Whilst our writers might have been divided elsewhere on the pitch there was absolutely no argument that Lucy Bronze was not just the first, if not only, choice for right back but our WSL 1 Player of the Year. A tireless worker on the pitch, Bronze epitomises everything about what Man City has become; hardworking, selfless, tactically astute, with a range of passing with a special goal or two in her boots.
CDM – Keira Walsh (Manchester City)
Possibly one of the richest areas on the pitch this season, Keira Walsh was up against lofty competition but just as she has for her club this year, Walsh earned her spot in our starting XI. Having been compared to Sergio Busquets for her tactical awareness and positioning, Walsh makes her job seem easy but that’s entirely down to her comprehension of her role, the 19 year-old has proved to be unflappable since returning from injury, as comfortable in the Champions League as the WSL.
CM – Georgia Stanway (Manchester City)
Possibly where our writing team would have come to blows was arguing over former Rover, Georgia Stanway (her inclusion pushing Jordan Nobbs to the bench). But after a storming season that started with a world-class goal against Liverpool in the early rounds of the FA Cup, Stanway has only gone from strength to strength, not just providing important – and sensational – goals but with her ethos on the pitch, willing to drop back and defend with the intelligence of someone much older than her 17 years. Having been compared to Melanie Behringer by our own Editor in Chief, we were all in agreement that not only has Stanway had a glittering 2016 but she’ll only get better in time.
CM – Jill Scott (Manchester City)
Another of City’s starlets this year, perpetual runner, Jill Scott was another of the first names in our best XI. A pure box-to-box midfielder, Scott is likely to pop up anywhere Man City (or England) need her at any given time, netting a vital goal or sticking out a rangy leg to knock the ball away from an advancing attacker, Scott has been huge (literally and figuratively) in City’s title winning season.
LW – Caroline Weir (Liverpool)
The second of three Scots on the list and the only representative from the Reds in our TotS, Caroline Weir is another who has impressed in Scott Rogers’ new look Liverpool this season. Remembered for her stunning goals against Arsenal, Weir is not just Liverpool’s top goalscorer this season but an integral member of a team finding their way to settle and challenge for silverware once again.
RW – Nikita Parris (Manchester City)
Somewhat of a marmite figure, Nikita Parris has had a watershed season since making the full-time switch to Man City from Everton. The former Blue Girl has come under fire for attics that might be more associated with Tom Daley but when running with the ball at her feet there is no denying Parris’ raw talent, her lightning pace making it hard for defences to live with her, Parris has been another key component in City’s historic season and absolutely makes the grade.
CF – Jane Ross (Manchester City)
With one game left for all but Man City, Jane Ross is the current joint top league goalscorer (as well as the best over all competitions). Having made a smooth transition from Vittsjö, Ross has been a perpetual threat for Man City this season, seamlessly linking up with her teammates to tear teams apart, a natural striker with a nose for a goal there could be no other centre forward in our best XI.
Coach – Nick Cushing (Manchester City)
Substitutes - GK – Karen Bardsley (Manchester City)
Before the angry letters start flooding into the VAVEL office it has to be said, statistically Karen Bardsley has had a dream season. Having gone 16 games with only conceding once from open play in the league, as well as three times from the spot, Bardsley would be many people’s number one. However, with such a fantastic defence (and midfield) in front of her our writers felt that she hadn’t been under fire as much as other keepers, and it wasn’t as easy to judge her abilities. But a confident and experienced keeper, we’d gladly take Bardsley on the bench any day.
DF – Rebecca Jane (Reading)
As the only player representing WSL 1 new girls, Reading, Rebecca Jane has been a key part of the Royals’ solid defence. A player with sterling defensive nous, Jane has been a consistent starter for Kelly Chambers in their maiden season in the top flight, a keen understanding of the game, Jane is frequently in the right place at the right time to repel attacks, timing her challenges to perfection the defender has been one of our stand-outs for the Royals this year.
DF/MF – Millie Bright (Chelsea)
Whether deployed in defensive midfield or making up a back three, Millie Bright has been one of Chelsea’s bright (ha!) sparks this year, her exploits at club level earning her a call up to the England Senior squad, Bright is a player that is still learning and growing her game and will be a solid fixture in the England set up for years to come.
DF/MF – Jade Moore (Notts County)
Following a fragmented season after coming back from a long-term injury before terminating her contract with the Blues and making the switch to Notts, Jade Moore has taken to the Meadow Lane pitch like a duck to water. Frequently pushed back as centre-back into a make-shift back four, Moore is one of the last players you want to come up against en route to goal, a bullish defender who works exceptionally hard for club and country, we at VAVEL would gladly have Moore in any team – in defence or midfield.
MF – Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal)
As the other-half of our in-office bust-up, Jordan Nobbs has given our writers a large headache this month. Unquestionably one of England’s most talented players, the margin that pushed Nobbs to the bench was minute but the general consensus was that, whilst Nobbs is an incredible player, having been moved around the pitch by both Pedro Martinez Losa and Mark Sampson the [attacking] midfielder had been dulled. Pushed into a more defensive role had limited her ability to do what she does best, her vision bar none but unable to roam around the pitch as she would have liked just enough to take the edge off of her game and relegate her from our starting XI to the bench.
FW – Eni Aluko (Chelsea)
In a mixed year for Chelsea, Eni Aluko has been one of the more consistent players, shuffled around the front line the striker is (with one game left to play) joint top goalscorer in the league this year. A player who bleeds Blue, Aluko is tireless for the club she loves so much, leaving every ounce of blood, sweat and tears on the pitch for Chelsea her attacking instincts and ludicrous burst of pace make her the ideal attacker.
FW – Jess Clarke (Notts County)
Rounding out our substitutes bench is Notts County danger woman, Jess Clarke – with our writers left baffled by her exclusion from the England squad, we weren’t willing to keep her out of our best of the year. Even in an under-performing Notts side, any team would be loathed to give Clarke time or space on the ball, a determined attacker, when she’s off with the ball at her toe, there is little that will stop her. Possessing a clinical striker from even the most ruinous angles or distances, Clarke seems unfazed and will consistently come up with the goods for the Lady Pies – a fine attacker, any of our writers would be happy to have on side.