The 2022/23 campaign will be Aston Villa’s third in the WSL, with the Villans making gradual improvements year on year as they settle into life in the top flight.
It’s been a busy transfer window for Carla Ward’s side, refreshing the squad with WSL experience to complement the young talent already on the books.
How will Villa fare this term? Here’s 90min’s WSL preview for Aston Villa.
In Hannah Hampton, Aston Villa possess one of the best goalkeepers in the WSL. Despite being just 21-years-old, she has been an established number one in the top flight for nearly four years, and followed boss Carla Ward from Birmingham to Villa last summer.
The youngster is a fine shot stopper and is superb with the ball at her feet, with her distribution one of her strongest attributes.
She made her senior England debut against Spain in February, turning in a player of the match performance, and was part of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 winning squad.
One to watch
Maz Pacheco is one of the league’s most exciting players to watch. Blessed with bundles of skill and mesmerising feet, the 24-year-old typifies what it means to be a modern day fullback.
Pacheco made her WSL debut as a 16-year-old with Liverpool in 2015, before enjoying spells with Doncaster Belles, Reading and West Ham, and has represented England at every age group up to Under 21 level.
Aston Villa are managed by Carla Ward, with the 2022/23 campaign her second season in charge of the club. Ward joined the Villans from second city rivals Birmingham, having pulled off a remarkable survival job with the Blues despite contending with an assortment of off-field issues.
Ward is renowned for her refreshing frankness and honesty, and guided Villa to a ninth place finish during her maiden season in charge.
It’s been a largely successful window for Aston Villa bar one piece of bad fortune. Having been in desperate need of a striker last term, the Villans landed one in the shape of Northern Ireland talisman Simone Magill. However, she then ruptured her ACL three days after her signing was announced.
Villa have otherwise brought in some real WSL experience with Tash Harding and Danielle Taylor, while the surprise addition of versatile England international Rachel Daly could be one of the deals of the window. France midfielder Kenza Dali remains a class act on her day, and Anna Patten impressed on loan at Villa last term.
The 2022/23 campaign is Villa’s third in the WSL, having been promoted from the Championship as league champions during the 2019/20 season. They survived the drop by three points during their debut season in the top flight, before finishing a comfortable 10 points clear of relegation last term.
Villa are one of several WSL clubs who have the potential to finish anywhere from fifth to 11th this season. The Villans came within minutes of taking points off Chelsea last term and drew with Tottenham in the latter stages of the season, demonstrating they are capable of going toe to toe with anyone on their day.
They shouldn’t be threatened by relegation, and if Rachel Daly can become the goalscorer they were so dearly lacking last term then Ward’s side could better last season’s finish.