View: Upcoming run of fixtures could decide the success of Aston Villa women this season
The crucial run of fixtures awaiting Aston Villa women in the next month could well decide the success of Carla Ward’s side this season, with a cup run and a strong league finish still on the cards.
Despite being knocked out of the Conti Cup quarter-finals by Arsenal recently, the Villans have a chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Women’s Cup with a crunch clash against West Ham on Sunday (26 February).
As well as a potential cup run, Ward’s side currently occupies fifth spot in the Women’s Super League after a run of four games without defeat since the mid-season break – something they will look to cement with a run of fixtures against their close rivals on the horizon.
Following the match against the Hammers, Villa faces a trip to Merseyside to face Everton – who are currently sitting a point beneath them in the WSL table – and then play West Ham and bottom-placed Leicester City.
Considering the strong form of Villa since the mid-season break and the January additions of Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth, stretching their unbeaten run a little further through these games is by no means out of the equation.
The clash against the Toffees is a six-pointer for whoever takes the spoils, with both sides fighting toe-to-toe for the best of the rest bragging rights. If Ward’s side were to fall to defeat here, it wouldn’t spell disaster for them but would make their challenge that bit tougher as the campaign draws to a close.
Although Everton may have been established as a WSL staple a lot longer than Villa, the sheer number of match-winners currently plying their trade in the West Midlands makes them favourites to clinch the fifth spot. With Rachel Daly banging down the door to be England’s number nine at the World Cup and Kenza Dali proving to be a brilliant creative spark in behind, Villa certainly don’t lack goals.
Any success that Ward masterminds this season will ultimately come down to how her defence performs. If there has been one weakness this season, it is Villa’s ability to ship goals at the least expected moments. Despite dominating their most recent WSL match against Brighton, they still managed to concede two cheap goals in the 6-2 victory.
The back four of Aston Villa will need to be at their very best to navigate the side through this ultimately season-defining run of fixtures.
In other Aston Villa news, the club want to reunite with a former player for a fee in excess of £40million in the summer.