Ranking PFA Women's Player of the Year nominees
Chelsea Ladies were rewarded for another strong campaign. Blues players were nominated for five of six slots in the Professional Footballers' Association Women's Players' Player of the Year. While the remaining nine sides may feel slighted, it was well merited.
The Blues have been solid on all fronts. Yet to taste defeat, Emma Hayes’ ladies are three points atop holders Manchester City in the FA Women's Super League (WSL) table. They stopped the Citizens from reaching Wembley for the second time in four years in the FA Cup. A first continental final is feasible if they overcome Wolfsburg.
As voted for by PFA members, the winner is set to be announced on 22nd April. Here's how I rate each nominee.
6 – Millie Bright
Bright’s strong physical presence, strength, and composure have played a key part in the Blues’ dominant campaign. The ex-Doncaster Belles defender has been at the heart of a Chelsea back-four boasting the best defensive record in the league. They've conceded just nine goals. Bright has stepped up to assist her team at the opposite end on a couple of occasions, too.
5 – Ramona Bachmann
The Swiss goal-machine makes the cut owing to a tantalising partnership with Fran Kirby in Chelsea's attack. Either on the flanks or centrally, Bachmann is prepared to sacrifice personal achievement for the collective good of her team. She’s done so thrice in the league and even more in Europe. Judging by her impressive past returns for clubs and country, Blues faithful should brace themselves for more from the 27-year-old.
4 – Jill Scott
Scott's presence wasn't to avoid a Chelsea monopoly. Her consistency warranted inclusion. The 31-year-old has made the PFA Team of the Year for three successive seasons. Nicknamed ‘Crouchy’ owing to her comparable physique and playing style with Peter Crouch, her languid approach, composure, and confidence is part of the reason City could retain the title. She has hit the target four times in 11 league games.
3 - Maren Mjelde
By a distance, Mjelde has been the best non-offensive player in the division. Either in defence or midfield, she’s eternally tenacious and ambitious. In a Chelsea team spoilt for choice in attack, the 28-year-old gladly sits back to fend off incoming danger. That’s not to say she has turned blind eyes to scoring chances. She has four to her name already.
2 - Ji So-Yun
Every season, Ji continues to prove how astute she's been for Chelsea. Signed with a huge reputation as Asia’s brightest prospect, the 27-year-old has enhanced that even further under Hayes. Ji's passing, vision, and eye for goal have once again been evident in another fine season for the league leaders. In just 11 league outings, she’s been involved in seven strikes (4 goals, 3 assists).
1 – Fran Kirby
Kirby is the only player capable of thwarting Ji's quest for a second PFA accolade in four years. And deservedly so. The 24-year-old is having a Mohamed Salah-kind of impact in the women’s circle. Almost everytime she touches the ball, it amounts to a goal. She's done so on 20 occasions, including seven in her last eight. Her tally is more than three top-tier sides combined - Everton, Yeovil Town and Bristol City. Take a bow, baby girl.