Despite not hitting the heights she did last season, Bethany England started for the Blues against West Ham on Sunday, scoring her sixth goal of the campaign, and proved she’s still a key part of Chelsea’s surge for back-to-back WSL titles.
At this stage last season, England had 14 goals to her name. That was until the FA suspended the campaign on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around, she’s only mustered six.
Now, it’s easy to look at that and conclude she’s underperforming, but on closer inspection, England offers Emma Hayes’ side far more than just a goal threat.
The 26-year-old has featured in all 16 of Chelsea’s league games so far this season, assisting her teammates on six occasions — double the amount she achieved last term.
She faces stiff competition for places in the starting 11, with the Blues boasting several high-profile forwards, such as Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, Erin Cuthbert and Pernille Harder — who became the world’s most expensive female footballer when she joined Chelsea in last summer from VfL Wolfsburg for a reported £250,000.
The same situation occurs when England is called up for international duty. The forward was on the bench for the Lionesses’ 6-0 hammering of Northern Ireland last month, coming on as a substitute for Ellen White in the 77th minute.
On Sunday, England started alongside Kerr, setting up the Australian for Chelsea's first goal of the game. She then hit the back of the net for the Blues' second of the afternoon with a header just after half-time.
Even in Kirby’s absence, Beth showed her quality and why she was named the 2020 WSL Player of The Year. The fact the forward has played a part in all 16 league games so far this season also demonstrates her obvious talent and shows how much Emma Hayes values her ability.
Hayes has also started the 26-year-old in all three of Chelsea's Champions League games this season, in which the forward has repaid her faith by scoring three times.
So, what does the future hold for last year's Players' Player of The Year?
There have been murmurs that a move away from West London may be on the cards come the summer, but it’s clear that staying at Chelsea would be England’s preferred option.
In July 2021 the Olympics will be hosted in Tokyo, Japan. England will no doubt be looking to earn herself a place in Great Britain's team, with the added incentive of this potentially being her first Olympic Games.
Furthermore, next year the Women's European Championships will be played in England, with the forward keen to show future Lionesses' boss, Sarina Wiegman, why she deserves to be part of the Lionesses' squad for the tournament.
The 26-year-old was named in last year's PFA Team of The Year, and with only six games remaining for Chelsea in the league, she will want to surpass her main rival Ellen White, who sits on eight goals so far, in order to cement her starting place for future international games.
Everything is likely to depend on how England performs for the Blues in next season's WSL campaign, but with her still playing a massive role in Hayes' side, you wouldn’t bet against her rekindling her old form and leading the line for both Team GB and the Lionesses in years to come.News Now - Sport News