As it’s not just the end of the year but the end of the decade we decided to look back at each WSL season and put together a team of the decade. With so many talented players having played in England at one time or another the main criteria was consistent performances over a number of seasons – explaining why a player like Vivianne Miedema failed to make the grade, but maybe she’ll be in the next… Even still, cutting the team down to just XI was no easy task, and even utilising a bench there are still a number of players that we simply couldn’t fit in and even still, there are a few slightly unorthodox positions.
Goalkeeper: Emma Byrne (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s faithful number one for much of their heyday, Byrne lead the way for many goalkeepers in Europe and her prowess over the first half of the decade is just enough to see her edge out some of her European counterparts.
Left-back: Kerys Harrop (Birmingham City)
Another one-club woman, Harrop has been with the Blues through thick and thin, one of the few constants as the team has enjoyed heady highs and regrettable lows. Adaptable on the left side of defence who can play at both full and centre back, Harrop’s consistency is more than enough for her to earn a spot in the team of the decade.
Centre back: Gemma Bonner (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City)
A league winner with Liverpool, it’s easy to chart Bonner’s progress from the young player she was at Chelsea at the start of the decade. Consistent and unwavering for the Reds, Bonner’s move to Manchester City was as equally surprising as it was unsurprising and, true to form, the experienced defender has slotted right into place in the sky blue backline.
Centre back: Casey Stoney (Chelsea, Lincoln, Arsenal, Liverpool)
Always known for her thorough dedication both on and off the pitch during her playing days, Stoney was always a calm and mature head on the pitch, leading from the back for both club and country. Already into her second season as Manchester United manager, Stoney’s enduring legacy is still her impressive playing career.
Right back: Lucy Bronze (Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City)
There is little that can be said about Bronze that hasn’t already. A consistent stand-out in each English team she’s played in, the industrious defender has continued to earn the plaudits long after leaving WSL but remains one of the finest players to take to the pitches up and down the country in the league.
Centre midfield: Katie Chapman (Arsenal, Chelsea)
If Katie Chapman hasn’t won it, it’s not worth winning. A hard-working midfielder that never failed to put a shift in, the vastly experienced midfielder enjoyed a fine last season before retirement, rolling back the years on the pitch and showing just what hard work and dedication (as well as natural talent) can do for a player.
Attacking midfield: Kim Little (Arsenal)
Blighted by serious injuries since returning to WSL from NWSL, the Scottish magician may be yet to find her very best form with Arsenal since her first spell but remains one of the bright sparks in the league. Another player who lit up the league when it was still in its first years, Kim Little’s exploits are enough for her to just keep other phenomenal midfielders like Karen Carney and Jordan Nobbs out of the starting XI.
Centre midfield: Jill Scott (Everton, Manchester City)
Much like Chapman and others [like Rachel Furness], Jill Scott is a player that screams industry and 90 solid minutes of breathless running. One of the few pure, box-to-box midfielders left playing, Manchester City’s success in the league is in no small part to the tireless work of Scott, her sporadic (and highly cheeky) pieces of skill thrown in reminding everyone that she’s a highly dimensional player.
Left wing: Ji So-yun (Chelsea)
A natural #10 (and regrettably and horribly out of position in this line-up), Ji brings that certain je ne sais quoi to Chelsea (as well as the South Korea national team). A player with a deft touch who sees the pitch in a completely different way to her teammates, the midfielder remains a delight to watch when she’s in flow for the Blues.
Striker: Ellen White (Arsenal, Notts County, Birmingham City, Manchester City)
A striker with a nose for goals, Ellen White made sure to end the decade with the same panache that she started it with. A straight-forward centre forward who does much much more than goal-hang and poach, White has recovered her form after a rash of serious injuries and a poor goal return during her spell with ill-fated Notts to put her name amongst the best in the world in her position.
Right wing: Nikita Parris (Everton, Manchester City)
Although now plying her trade in France, no player in the history of WSL has had more goal engagements than Nikita Parris (74 over her time with Everton and Man City). A determined attacker who grew as a winger over her time in a cluttered City attack, the Toxteth native can play anywhere across the front line and has developed an all-round game – and is known for much more than just her speed to beat defenders.
Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal)
Alex Scott (Arsenal)
Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal)
Kiera Walsh (Manchester City)
Fara Williams (Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Reading)
Gemma Davison (Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Reading, Spurs)
Karen Carney (Birmingham City, Chelsea)
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