Sam Kerr, Emma Hayes: The best of the WSL this season

WSL Awards

This year’s WSL season will live long in the memory as Chelsea claimed a third successive title on a dramatic final day of action. 

There were plenty of players, coaches and teams that caught the eye throughout the year, but who impressed the most? 

We’ve devised our own set of awards to determine the standout performers from a memorable campaign:

Team of the season – Chelsea

This one was always going to be fairly obvious. Emma Hayes’ side claimed a third league title in a row, thanks to a 4-2 win against Man United at Kingsmeadow on Sunday. 

Chelsea had spent much of the season behind Arsenal, who beat the Blues on the opening day of the season. 

But after the Gunners slipped up against Birmingham and Spurs, Chelsea seized the initiative and never looked back. 

The Blues remain the best women’s club side in English football and are fast becoming one of the best English club sides ever. 

Chelsea lifting WSL trophy

Player of the season – Sam Kerr

Kerr was named the Football Writer’s English Football Women’s Player of the Year and we’re in full agreement. 

The Australian claimed the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season and scored two outstanding goals against United on the final day to help win the title. 

Arsenal’s Beth Mead deserves a mention for her impressive campaign, which saw her notch 11 goals and register six assists. 

But ultimately, it was Kerr who inspired Chelsea to the title and who therefore gets our vote.

Goal of the season – Caroline Weir 

There were plenty of goal of the season contenders that you can check out here

Our favourite, though, has to be Weir’s audacious chip against United. 

Weir has a habit of scoring wonder goals against Man United. In 2019, she hammered home the inaugural Manchester derby goal from 25 yards out, while last season she executed a sumptuous chip to perfection. 

This year was no exception as Weir produced a near-identical chip with just 10 minutes left to hand the Citizens all three points.  

Manager of the season – Emma Hayes

We promise not all of these awards are going to Chelsea, but Hayes was once again the league’s standout manager. 

Throughout the season, the Blues head coach was locked in a heated rivalry with Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall, but it was Hayes who emerged with the bragging rights. 

Her tactical nous is also unparalleled. With Chelsea trailing United 2-1 at half-time, Hayes switched formation, made a double substitution and delivered a rousing team talk. The Blues then scored three unanswered second-half goals. 

Leicester’s Lydia Bedford was also a close contender for this award. Bedford took over Leicester at the end of November with the side bottom of the WSL. She successfully steered the team away from relegation and led her side to wins over Birmingham, Brighton and West Ham. 

Emma Hayes with WSL trophy

Surprise team of the season – Tottenham Hotspur 

While they missed out on Champions League football in the end, Spurs successfully kept pace with the big teams for the majority of the season. 

Rehanne Skinner’s side secured a memorable win over Man City early in the campaign and were unlucky to draw against Arsenal and Man United. 

The team also had a mightily solid defence all season – conceding just 23 times in 22 games. 

Though they eventually ended the season fifth, there is a lot to build on ahead of next year. 

Spurs Women

Surprise player of the season – Ashleigh Neville

As mentioned, Tottenham enjoyed an impressive season and Neville was undoubtedly the side’s key player. 

The defender made 93 tackles in total – more than any other player in the league. 

Neville was also a key asset for Spurs going forwards –– scoring three times and registering two assists.

Ashleigh Neville against West Ham

Best young player of the season – Ella Toone 

Toone was United’s key player throughout the campaign and almost guided them to Champions League football. 

The 22-year-old proved to be both a  goalscorer and a creator –– scoring seven times and assisting on seven occasions as well. 

Her performances for United impressed England head coach Sarina Wiegman, and Toone looks set to play a vital role for the Lionesses at Euro 2022 this summer. 

Man City’s Lauren Hemp also had a fantastic season and scored 10 goals in total. However, while Hemp was unplayable at times during the second half of the campaign, we felt Toone maintained her level over the course of the whole season. 

Ella Toone vs Man City

Best moment of the season – Sam Kerr’s winner against Aston Villa

They say titles are often won thanks to fine margins and that was certainly the case this year. 

Chelsea needed to beat Aston Villa to keep the title in their hands but struggled to break the deadlock against Carla Ward’s resilient side. 

However, with just moments to go in stoppage time, Kerr pounced on a loose ball in the box and kept her composure to slot home. 

Kerr removed her shirt in celebration and the entire Chelsea side, including Hayes, ran to embrace the Australian. 

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Arsenal vs Chelsea

Who scored the first ever WSL goal on 13th April 2011?

Birmingham’s win over Arsenal was another turning point in the title race and was no doubt the highlight of a dismal season for the Midlands based club.

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