Following a thrilling 2020/21 season in the Women’s Super League, Her Football Hub has named the biggest standout players. However, only one player has been selected from each club. Here’s the personnel who we think had the most impact from each WSL outfit.
Arsenal – Katie McCabe
Arsenal managed to secure Champions League football this season despite their rocky start. Their campaign began with defeats to their fellow top four – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
March saw the turn-around of their form and they finally started to look like their past selves. One player in particular who ramped up the pressure was Katie McCabe.
The full-back was due to implement her forward play in the flank of the formation, but due to Steph Catley suffering a long-term injury, she remained a part of the back four.Embed from Getty Images
Despite prioritising her defensive duties, McCabe tallied up a staggering 13 assists and five goals. These stats earned her the Arsenal Supporters’ Player of the Season, and the WSL’s highest assisting player of the 2020/21 season.
One of the five goals she scored topped the table in the vote for Goal of the Season. The Arsenal supporters decided that McCabe’s goal against Aston Villa was worthy of first place. The long-range strike was talk of the league for weeks following, and deservedly so.
It has been a remarkable campaign for the 25-year-old. Following her new contract with the Gunners and cementing her place on the team sheet, there’s no doubt that the upcoming season may well be the same. If not, better.
Aston Villa – Nat Haigh
In a difficult inaugural WSL season for Aston Villa, centre-back Nat Haigh stood out. The starting XI
that secured survival with a closing weekend draw at Arsenal was markedly different to the one that
began their campaign. However, Haigh is one player who was a mainstay across the season at the
heart of Villa’s defence.
Although the first half of the season saw Villa struggle defensively, Haigh was a key component of
the defensive resolve and organisation Marcus Bignot implemented upon his January arrival.
Strong in the air and in the tackle, she showed herself to be equally capable when instigating attacks and
sitting deep to defend against some of the league’s most potent attacks, providing necessary
stability as part of both a back three and a back four.
Perhaps more surprisingly however, was her influence at the other end of the pitch. With Villa
embroiled in a tense battle for WSL survival, Haigh provided key goal contributions to secure results
that were significant in maintaining Villa’s WSL status.
Back in January against Reading, her clever low free-kick deceived the Royals’ defence to earn the Villains an unexpected draw, whilst a goal against relegation rivals Bristol City helped Villa to a crucial point during the run-in.
At both ends of the pitch Haigh lead by example, and her underrated contributions were key to Villa avoiding the
Birmingham City – Sarah Mayling
Sarah Mayling is so versatile she could play almost anywhere in the eleven. She’s a very, very intelligent footballer who understands the intricacies of every position on the field.
As a full-back – on either flank – Mayling instinctively knows how to block off the opposition. In midfield, she links up with her teammates to play a clever ball to open up more space. Going forwards, she has speed and can muscle past opponents down either wing. Her ability to cross the ball with such pinpoint accuracy is a spectacle to watch.Embed from Getty Images
This season, Mayling is Birmingham’s leading assists provider. Her passes have led to so many goals that have kept Blues in the Women’s Super League. Mayling also knows how to find the back of the net herself and is this season’s second highest goalscorer for the club.
Mayling is also a double winner in the awards department. She deservedly won the much coveted Players’ Player of the Season. She was also voted Player of the Season by the passionate fan base Birmingham City Women Supporters Group.
Brighton & Hove Albion – Maya Le Tissier
Since making her league debut for Brighton & Hove Albion in 2018, Maya Le Tissier has been a mainstay at the club. While the 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns were a fight for survival for the Seagulls, the this season was a time in which the team could really show off their potential.
Just as the club itself put in a notable season, so did Le Tissier. Along with Aileen Whelan and Inessa Kaagman, Le Tissier appeared in all of Brighton’s 22 league matches.
She started the season off in her usual right-back position, yet, because of player availability and occasional changes in formation, she was often deployed as a centre-back as the season progressed.Embed from Getty Images
Le Tissier was important in Brighton’s biggest games. This includes the time they handed back-to-back champions Chelsea their only league defeat and then went on a four-game win streak.
Across the season, she maintained eight clean sheets and scored her first club goal on the final day of the WSL season. It’s no wonder she featured in the Her Football Hub WSL Team of the Week seven times throughout the season.
Bristol City – Gemma Evans
Despite falling short in their battle to avoid relegation, Bristol still had plenty of players who shone throughout the season. No.3 Gemma Evans is a perfect example of this.
Evans’ header against Tottenham made it seem for a moment that the Vixens were finally away from the dreaded bottom spot. Despite their eventual relegation, Evans has been nothing but an asset for the club throughout the season.Embed from Getty Images
Her defensive skill and command of the backline allowed Bristol to fight for their WSL survival up until the very end of the season. Now, their eyes are undoubtedly set on a return to the top flight. Because of that, Evans’ defensive skills will no doubt be essential in helping her team return to the WSL.
Chelsea – Jess Carter
Chelsea’s habitual winning is a team mentality, incensed by the signing of some of the world’s most expensive and most decorated players. However, when I think about my standout player this season, it’s not for the price tag or the awards.
Jess Carter has, without a doubt, been one of Chelsea’s most hard-working and resilient players this year. Having only played 167 minutes last season, Carter’s role within the team changed dramatically after the season-ending injury suffered by Maren Mjelde in March. Carter went from warming the bench to a starting spot in both Champions League semi-final legs.Embed from Getty Images
Not only did she hold her own in defence and grind harder every game, she created the goal which sent Chelsea to their first ever European final.
Carter is synonymous with the Chelsea ethos, and this year has truly granted her a moment in the spotlight. The grit and tenacity with which Carter has stepped up to her challenges from Hayes is what makes her an outstanding member of Chelsea’s already world-class team.
Watch out for the second instalment of Her Football Hub’s WSL standout players…