The Premier League is still a week away, but The FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) starts this weekend.
Reigning champions Chelsea open their season away to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
The FA WSL has seen an influx of foreign talent, with a number of Australian, American and European players being drawn into the league. Chelsea have built a solid squad to contend with the title challengers. These are the players to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Bethany England – Striker
26-year-old Englishwoman Bethany England was Chelsea’s top scorer last season, netting 14 goals in 15 appearances. Just two goals behind league-leading Vivienne Miedema. The England International striker is currently sitting on a streak of three seasons with 10 or more goals in the FA WSL.
Maren Mjelde – Defensive Midfielder / Centre Back
Starting out as a centre back originally, Maren Mjelde has proven versatile for both Chelsea and the Norwegian national team. Perhaps Mjelde is better described as an attacking defender, rather than a defensive midfielder. Capable in possession and in taking possession, Mjelde is also a handy penalty taker. Now 30 years old, this will be Mjelde’s fifth season at Chelsea.
Ji So-Yun – Attacking Midfielder
The South Korean midfield dynamo is coming off her best season with Chelsea since joining in 2014. With six goals and two assists in 13 matches, Ji was Chelsea’s second-highest scorer in 2019/20. With more than just England to target up top, Ji’s productivity will be given a chance to increase.
Fran Kirby – Attacking Midfielder / Striker
After representing England at the Women’s World Cup in 2019, signs looked promising for Kirby heading into the 2019/20 FA WSL. However, pericarditis would end her season after just four appearances. Kirby is determined to bounce back, though her return to match fitness might limit her early on in the season.
When she’s firing, Kirby is extremely dangerous in the final third. Her best FA WSL season came in 2017/18 where she won the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year. That season she was Chelsea’s top scorer with eight goals and six assists. Even in her two starts last season, she still managed four assists.
Sam Kerr – Striker
Australian national captain Sam Kerr arrived at Chelsea in January and made four appearances before the league was cut short. Three starts, one goal and one assist. Solid enough for her first few games at FA WSL level, but the 26-year-old will want to improve.
Between the Australian W-League and the American NWSL, Kerr had gone six straight full seasons with 10 or more goals. In a full Season of FA WSL – not a four-match, COVID interrupted end to a season – that’s what Kerr needs to be aiming for.
Melanie Leupolz – Central Midfielder
German midfielder Melanie Leupolz is one of Chelsea’s newest players. The 26-year-old midfielder has spent the last six seasons at Bayern Munich in the Frauen-Bundesliga. 2018/19 saw her used in a more attacking role, where she scored six goals in 20 matches. As always when a player moves to a new club, there is a risk of a slow start. But Leupolz does show promise.
Ann-Katrin Berger – Goalkeeper
Chelsea conceded the second fewest goals in the league last season, with 11. In goal for 13 of Chelsea’s 15 matches was German keeper Ann-Katrin Berger. Berger joined Chelsea from Birmingham in 2019, and has overtaken England keeper Carly Telford for the starting spot in goal. Telford remains a Chelsea player and is a capable backup. Berger will have an important role to play If Chelsea are to repeat their strong defensive showing.
Milly Bright – Centre Back
English international Milly Bright was the only Chelsea player to spend every minute of last season on the pitch. Bright joined Chelsea in 2015 and has remained a consistent contributor to the squad since. Illustrating her consistency, Bright has exactly one goal and two yellow cards in each of the last three seasons.
Guiro Reiten – Attacking Midfielder / Winger
With five goals and an equal league-leading eight assists, Norwegian Guiro Reiten became a focal point in attack in her first season at Chelsea. Used both centrally and on the left, Reiten’s versatility saw her able to start every single match of the 2019/20 season. At only 24 years old, there is potential for Reiten to remain a key player for Chelsea over the next few seasons.