Steph Houghton MBE
Captain for Man City Women and the Lionesses, Steph Houghton is a proven leader. She is well respected as Man City captain and scored their first goal of the campaign, a free kick in the 90th minute against Notts County which resulted in a 1-0 victory. Moments like that highlight how valuable Houghton is to the team, at the vital moment she stepped up and won her team the three points. In the six matches that have followed for Man City Women, they are unbeaten, even though their winning run came to an end after the goalless draw with Liverpool Ladies on Wednesday, and have kept seven clean sheets in seven WSL1 games. Steph Houghton has been a key part of this, and having recently extended her stay to the end of the 2017 season, will be looking to lead Man City Women to WSL1 glory.
Whether she starts or comes on as a sub, Eni Aluko is a crucial member of the Chelsea Ladies squad. When she came on for Karen Carney in the Women’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal, Aluko was easily Chelsea’s most dangerous player and her pace caused problems on numerous occasions. Aluko was instrumental in Chelsea’s title charge last season, scoring seven goals as well as setting her team mates up. The Chelsea Ladies forward won her 100th international cap in March this year and is the 10th player to reach the milestone for the Lionesses. She provided the assist for Fran Kirby’s winning goal against Sunderland Ladies in their most recent game as they won 2-1. Aluko has been left out of the England squad for next month’s Euro qualifiers, which means that she will be even more determined to prove herself at club level and force her way back into the team. That sort of experience is just what Chelsea Ladies need as they aim to win the WSL1 title again for only the second time in their history.
Dubbed “mini Messi” by England boss Mark Sampson after scoring England’s first goal at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, in a 2-1 win over Mexico, Fran Kirby is a force to be reckoned with. The 22-year-old signed for Chelsea Ladies last season and was top goalscorer in WSL 2 the season before, netting 24 league goals, 29 in total. When Chelsea Ladies boss Emma Hayes signed her, she said “Fran, for us, is the missing piece.” High praise indeed and so far it has been completely justified. The England striker won the WSL1 title with Chelsea Ladies in her debut season at the club and already has five goals in Chelsea Ladies’ first six league games this season. Kirby is a crucial part of the team as they aim to retain their WSL1 title and with other talented players such as Eni Aluko and Ji So-Yun around her, she will continue to flourish.
Fara Williams MBE
England’s most-capped player of all time, Fara Williams, joined Arsenal Ladies in January this year, from a Liverpool Ladies side in which she won back-to-back league titles in 2013 and 2014. In her first season, she has won the Women’s FA Cup and will be looking to add even more trophies to her already fantastic collection. Being a renowned set-piece specialist and a more mature and experienced player who has recently won the WSL1 title, Fara will be able to give helpful advice to her team mates as they look to win their first WSL1 title since 2010.
After scoring the winner at Wembley earlier on this month, Danielle Carter must still be on cloud nine. Her sublime goal in the 18th minute that was worthy of winning any cup final as Arsenal Ladies defeated Chelsea Ladies 1-0 in front of a record crowd at Wembley Stadium. Carter is a versatile striker who can play on the left or right wing and has a brilliant eye for goal. She scored in Arsenal’s first match of the WSL1 campaign and there is no doubt that she will be involved in many more before the season comes to an end.