Ashford Town & Impetus’ FAWSL Predictions

Ahead of the new Barclays FAWSL season which kicks off this Friday, Ellie Luscombe, Lucy Potter and Charlotte Baker from Impetus partner club Ashford Town (Middx) joined up with three of the site’s writers, Ben Gilby, Kris Goman, and Kieran Yap to discuss their predictions for the season.

PREDICTED CHAMPIONS:

Ellie: Chelsea as I feel they have momentum going into the season with winning the league and continental cup last season and feel especially some of the youngsters we’ve seen in recent friendlies could prove a point this season as well.

Lucy: Chelsea. The team they have is world class as well as the manager. With the signing of Lauren James who’s a proven goal scorer I don’t see anyone else competing.

Above: Ashford Town (Middx)’s Lucy Potter (right) seen in action here at AFC Wimbledon in a pre-season friendly. Photo: Ben Gilby

Charlotte: Chelsea. Consistently strong, all round good team, tough to beat at the moment. Close behind them, I would say Manchester City.

Kris: Chelsea. It’s a winning formula and the team hasn’t changed much. They still look very strong and determined.

Kieran: Chelsea. They still have some defensive weaknesses but will be confident that they can outscore anybody. They have a largely settled team and are one of the clubs that has consistency off the field. They have depth, options and variety in attack and a world glass goalkeeper.

Ben: Full house – Chelsea! Only a lack of strength in depth in defence prevents them from being the complete team. The creativity and firepower in midfield and up front is frightening.

TWO ADDITIONAL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFIERS:

Ellie: I think maybe Manchester United as they had had a great past two seasons finishing fourth in the league and feel they could maybe inch into the top three. It might be a long shot but maybe Reading as well as they always seem to finish around fifth and sixth, plus with some the new signings like Olympic gold medallist Deanne Rose, they could maybe get into the top three.

Lucy: United and Arsenal have the squads to realistically compete.

Charlotte: Manchester United- they have grown in to the Super League and keep getting better. They can play top teams and think it would improve them even more and give them more experience if they were to qualify this season for Champions League.  

Kris: Arsenal and Manchester City. Both still very strong teams despite a couple of line up changes. No other teams look as strong as these three.

Kieran: Manchester City and Arsenal. Both have invested heavily in improving their squad. Manchester Citiy’s Lauren Hemp and Hayley Raso both had excellent Olympic campaigns and Khadija Shaw is a brilliant striker. City will be hard to stop with that sort of pace and talent in attack.

Arsenal, because of Mana Iwabuchi. To have her and Kim Little in the same line up feels like some sort of cheat code.  The only  thing that can stop them is another plague of injuries. If the review from last season has solved that problem they can challenge for honours.

Ben: I really fancy Everton to have a crack at third place this year. Arguably they have had the best transfer window of any FAWSL club. A number of hugely exciting young Swedish stars signed, including the reported 200,000 Euro transfer fee paid for the teenager Hanna Bennison is a real statement of intent. Manchester City should finish second. Some good signings (please play Alanna Kennedy in defence and NOT midfield…!) and the momentum from the way they finished last season.

DARK HORSES:

Ellie: Leicester City could be a dark horse as they had such a good run in the Championship as well as winning it. But they have also proved a lot with their previous win against Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round and reaching the semi-final of the Continental Cup.  Also Aston Villa could be a dark horse as now they’ve had a season in the league, and been able to adapt to the level. I feel they might do well as they pulled off a few good performances last season. But have also gained the likes of Maz Pacheco, Remi Allen and Alisha Lehmann.

Charlotte: Manchester United – they have made good signings, strong team, can compete with the best. They have lost some big players but still think they are in for a chance.  

Above: Hanna Bennison pictured at Everton after the completion of her midweek six figure fee transfer. Photo: Everton FC.

Kris: Everton. They seem to be building and have a good set up. Bennison might be a game changer for them.

Kieran: Everton were great in patches last season and only need to add consistency. Hanna Bennison is only 18 but could be a generational talent and the type who dominates the league. Willie Kirk clearly has a plan for how he wants the team to play and has the club’s backing. 

Ben: Everton, for reasons stated in Champions League qualifiers above.

RELEGATED:

Ellie: Maybe Birmingham City as they have been around the bottom two the last couple of seasons and have narrowly missed out on relegation previously.

Lucy: Leicester City. I don’t think they have the experience within the team.

Charlotte: Brighton and Hove Albion. Not strong enough to compete with best teams. Although Leicester City have come up, I think they have a strong side and good team cohesion amongst them to be consistently performing even if not winning week in week out. Brighton, I feel like are a very inconsistent team.

Kris: Aston Villa. Gut feel.

Kieran: West Ham United only just survived last season and have lost Emily van Egmond who was one of their most potent attacking weapons. Birmingham City and Reading are vulnerable. The competition is becoming an arms race of sorts and they might have been left behind this season.

Above: Birmingham City in a pre-season friendly against Liverpool at St. Andrews. Photo: Andrew Powell/Getty Images

Ben: Birmingham City. It’s been a horrendous eight months or so at the club. Players publicly criticising the club for poor facilities and lack of equality, narrowly missing relegation, and a quality head coach departing along with key players. Getting Scott Booth in as new head coach was a great move giving his success and achievements with Glasgow City both domestically and in the Champions League, but this is a side low on confidence, and key players have not been replaced over the summer.

BEST PLAYER:

Ellie: I think the best player in the WSL right now is Fran Kirby. Her comeback after being horribly ill for so long really showed the player she is and how great she is to go from not being able to anything to back on top and scoring and probably a better player than she was before.

Lucy: Fran Kirby. Her goal scoring record speaks for itself.

Charlotte: Lucy Bronze- one of the best if not the best full back in the world, no other words than unreal. Vivianne Miedima – world class finisher, one of the best if not the best striker in the world. Doesn’t pass up on her opportunities.

Kris: Fran Kirby, injuries permitting. She’s a legend and has the ability to change a game. Her and Kerr make each other better.

Kieran: Mana Iwabuchi, she is world class. She can score , pass and dribble and at Arsenal she has the players around her to ensure she will have space to thrive.

Above: Fran Kirby – one of the biggest stars in the FAWSL. Photo: @ChelseaFCW

Ben: Fran Kirby reached unplayable standards last season. I also want to make a shout out for a newly arrived player who has largely gone under the radar here in the UK who could be one of the signings of the season – Tameka Yallop. She is a player at the top of her game under Tony Gustavsson with the Matildas. If she transfers that form to the FAWSL then West Ham United are going to have a decent season.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO HAVE A BREAKTHROUGH SEASON:

Ellie: The player most likely to make a big breakthrough is Lauren James. With her move to Chelsea I think it will show her talent on the bigger stages like the Champions League and really allow her to show herself even more with bigger challenges.

Lucy: Lauren James , she made a name for herself with United but at Chelsea I think she will really shine.

Charlotte: Natasha Flint of Leicester City. She’s a prolific goal scorer and strong up top. I feel like she will twist and turn a lot of defenders and upset a lot of teams this season.

Kris: Lauren Hemp. She’s pretty established now but she’s a huge talent and has the potential to be the best in the league.

Kieran: Lauren James, Chelsea’s star recruit will feature alongside some of the biggest names in the game. After her last season it may not  technically be a breakthrough, but she could go to another level entirely.  

Above: Lauren James – predicted by many of the panel to have a breakout season at Chelsea. Photo: Sky Sports.

Ben: Given her incredible Olympics this summer, I think this season will see Jessie Fleming absolutely smash it in the FAWSL.

 Don’t miss Impetus’ club by club preview of the new FAWSL season this Friday.

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