Richard Laverty previews each team before the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL 1) Spring Series begins on April 22.
The champions, the undefeated champions who have now replaced Chelsea as the team everyone wants to beat. Bar the high-profile arrival of Carli Lloyd, it’s been a fairly quiet winter at the CFA as the club concentrated their efforts on Champions League progression — a journey that ended at the weekend despite an impressive win in Lyon. It looks like there will be little experimenting from Nick Cushing during the Spring Series as the manager tries to maintain the gap back to rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.
Where to Find Manchester City
Nick Cushing hasn’t messed around installing his philosophy on the team since their arrival in the FA WSL 1 in 2014. Basing his thinking predominantly, but not exclusively, around young British players, Cushing has finally conquered England with this thinking but fell slightly short in Europe at the first time of asking. With an ability to set a team up defensively and play good attacking football, Cushing’s big challenge now is to progress the team enough so they don’t just compete, but beat the likes of Lyon.
An obvious choice, but a worthy one. Bronze has established herself as one of the best defenders in England and around the world; her rampaging nature is a nightmare for any opposition left back and her blistering pace and stamina allow her to get back in good time if possession is lost. To stand out in a team with the players Manchester City has takes quality and Bronze has it in abundance.
It may seem strange to put someone so young in the key players bracket but Walsh has earned the right to be there. In a midfield that sees quality players like Izzy Christiansen sometimes struggling for a starting spot, young Walsh has nailed down a place in the eleven and her impact returning from injury last season was noticeable. While still developing and prone to the odd error, Walsh’s composure in a top team is well beyond her years and she’ll only get better.
Perhaps another not-so-obvious choice but it’s what Lawley adds to the side this season that can make her a key player for City this year. While Toni Duggan likes to cut in from the left and Nikita Parris is all about pace and getting to the byline, Lawley can do a bit of both and has already had a big impact on City’s team this season. What she lacks in regular goals, she makes up for in skill and trickery and it will be interesting to see how she develops at City.
One to Watch
A more obvious choice but with most of City’s youngsters already well-trained in first-team football, options are limited. But Stanway is one to watch this season for reasons other than just her blossoming talent — it’s where she’s used. Nick Cushing has used Stanway as a No.9 so far in 2017 to free the teenager of any defensive duties. Her pace caused Lyon issues when she came on a substitute in the first leg and there’s no doubt she’ll get among the goals if given regular opportunities.
As previously stated, 2017 has been a quiet one so far at the CFA. It was a case of one in, one out early doors as Daphne Corboz departed back to the United States and was replaced by Lawley from Birmingham City. That looked to be that until the bombshell dropped: Manchester City was bringing 2015 and 2016 FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd in for the Spring Series. Lloyd’s impact has been felt more off the pitch than on it so far and we’ll likely see more action from Cushing in the summer than we did in the winter.