View: Aston Villa Women now have a squad capable of competing with WSL top-four
After making some brilliant additions to Carla Ward’s squad this January, Aston Villa women now look like a side capable of competing in the upper echelons of the Women’s Super League.
The Villans added both Arsenal legend Jordan Nobbs and Manchester United’s Lucy Staniforth to their ranks during the winter window, and their quality was on show for all to see in the recent 1-1 draw against Manchester City.
With Ward’s side now occupying sixth place in the Women’s Super League table and sitting just two points off Everton in fifth, there is a real feeling in the West Midlands that things will continue to move from strength to strength this term.
With Nobbs at the heart of Villa’a midfield, Daly scoring the goals at one end, and Rachel Corsie keeping them out at the other, an extremely strong spine has started to emerge less than a season after the club were fighting against relegation.
Speaking exclusively to Villa News, The Athletic’s Dan Bardell admitted he thought Ward’s side could push for a top-five finish this season, given the squad depth Ward now possesses.
“Villa are just a really good side now,” he said.
“Villa should be looking to finish top five this season, and now they’ve got to kick on and do that.
“Last season, the problem was they couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net, and they rectified that with Rachel Daly, and now they’ve signed a couple of high-profile players this month to match that ambition.
“They’ve got the squad now and the players who can come off the bench and impact a game, which they didn’t have before.
“Ward has a lot of international calibre players at her disposal, and to take four points off Manchester City this season, who have been an established top side in the WSL for a long time, shows the progress that has been made.
“Villa were going to the big teams before and getting beaten heavily last season, but they’re now holding their own in these games, and I think the future is now looking really bright for them.”
Even though Villa were knocked out of the Conti Cup by Arsenal in the quarter-finals, they still have the opportunity to go deep in the FA Women’s Cup, where they face Flyde in the fourth round (Sunday 29 January)
With a squad full of international-level players and a bench brimming with talent, games such as these are the perfect opportunity for Ward to show off the embarrassment of riches she possesses.
Last season, matches such as this would have been a cause for concern for Villa due to the lack of viable first-team alternatives, but the Villa boss will expect her team to dispose of their lower-league opposition with minimal fuss.
Back-to-back games against second-to-bottom Brighton in the league also provide Ward with the opportunity to go on a strong run and climb above Everton into the best of the rest position in the league.
In other Aston Villa news, Carla Ward must find a contingency plan in case Rachel Daly gets injured for her side this season.