The WSL Tartan Special: An Introduction

This week I spent an evening rebranding and tidying up the website as I move the content more in line with the stated aim of promoting Scottish Women’s Football. For those that don’t know I’m currently based in Glasgow and so covering the domestic scene, whilst not without its challenges, is something that I can do relatively easily. Scottish football however is not just limited to what occurs within the nation’s borders.

SWNT Captain Rachel Corsie and Scotland’s first ever World Cup goalscorer Claire Emslie currently ply their trade in the States for Utah Royals and Orlando Pride respectively. Striker Lana Clelland is currently working hard to get back to full fitness for her Italian side Fiorentina whilst Fiona Brown is recovering from her own injury in Sweden where she plays for FC Rosengård. Brown’s not alone in Scandinavia though as goalkeeper Shannon Lynn also plays her football in the Damallsvenskan for Vittsjö GIK.

These players, as the Leading the Line project evolves will be given their own platform I’m sure, but out with Scotland the biggest glut of talent for Shelley Kerr to call upon resides down south, with 13 out of the last 32 players Kerr has selected currently playing in the FA Women’s Super League with players such as Zoe Ness at Lewes and Lisa Robertson at Durham WFC playing in the Championship a level below.

Thanks to the shiny new FA Player watching these players has never been easier and so here at Leading the Line we are going to use this new influx of intel to provide you with updates on all 19 players currently taking to the field in England’s top flight. There are plans to look at player performance from various angles but for now, and to get us started, here’s an introduction to the players we’ll be following over the coming weeks and months.

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Arsenal

The Gunners, along with Bristol City and Manchester United, possess the strongest Scottish contingent with four players currently making up part of Joe Montemurro’s squad. Kim Little is the most established member, and is also captain of the Gunners, having won two Premier Leagues and two Women’s Super League trophies along with a raft of domestic trophies. Left back Emma Mitchell signed for the club in 2013, and missed out on a place on Shelley Kerr’s World Cup after picking up a serious injury in the preceding season.

Lisa Evans joined from Bayern Munich in 2017 after a five year spell in Germany, The versatile Scotland internationalist can play anywhere on the right hand side from full back to right forward where she is most often deployed by Montemurro. Centre back Jen Beattie re-joined from Manchester City this summer after previously having played for the North London club during a four year spell in 2009. The return south was driven by her desire to get more game time in her preferred role in the centre of the defence.

Birmingham City

Chloe Arthur moved from Bristol to Birmingham in 2018 and she has been a regular starter for the Midlands side. She was joined by striker Abbi Grant this summer with the former Glasgow City star making the move to the WSL after a productive spell in Belgium where she was part of an Anderlecht squad that would win the Belgian Super League for the second consecutive season.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Former England Head Coach, Hope Powell’s squad currently has no Scottish representation.

Bristol City

The Robins have perhaps been the most persistent in sourcing talent from the Scottish domestic scene although their approaches have on occasion not gone done well in Leith with the Somerset side having taken three players from Hibernian in recent years. The most established of these is Frankie Brown, the 31-year-old full back/defender having moved in 2014. Last season she was joined by SWPL top goalscorer Abi Harrison whilst in the last month midfielder Kirsten Reilly has also seen her home team colours change from green to red.

Goalkeeper Eartha Cummings rounds out the Scottish contingent at City with the 20 year-old goalkeeper having moved from Spartans at the end of the 2018 season. Of the four players in Tanya Oxtoby’s squad both Brown and Harrison have started in the first two games of the campaign.

Chelsea

Chelsea currently only have one Scottish player on their books but she is perhaps the most recognisable in the Scottish squad in the shape of 21-year-old firecracker Erin Cuthbert. The attacking midfielder was nominated for the PFA Women’s Players Player of the Year Award last season and ended the campaign with eye catching strikes against Lyon in the Champions League and for Scotland against Jamaica at Hampden.

It’s been a slow start this campaign due to injury and the feeling is we won’t get to see Cuthbert’s top form for a couple of weeks yet however, when that does happen she has the ability to take the league by storm once again.

Everton

It’s a measure of how highly her new boss, Scot Willie Kirk, rates 22 year-old midfielder Lucy Graham that he has given the new signing from Bristol City the captain’s armband for this campaign. Despite her relative youth Graham has been playing first team football for more than seven years starting her career at Forfar Farmington before spells at Hibernian and with Mallbackens in Sweden before joining City in 2018.

Her move to Merseyside comes off the back of a successful campaign with the Robins where she scored 7 goals in 19 appearances from the middle of the park.

Liverpool

Graham is joined on Merseyside by diminutive midfielder Christie Murray with Murray yet to play a part as the Reds contend with a tough start to the new FAWSL campaign.

One of the most experienced players in the Liverpool squad she to has flitted across both sides of the border throughout her career.

Manchester City

Midfielder Caroline Weir signalled her intent for the season ahead with a worldie of a winner against city rivals Manchester United in the opening game of the WSL season. City’s TrueView technology showed that strike in its best light but Weir herself is growing into an elite level player, something that was evident by her impressive displays for Scotland at the World Cup and in the recent Euro qualifying tie against Cyprus.

In a City side challenging on four fronts this season Weir will play a key role in helping Nick Cushing bring success to his side.

Manchester United

The Red Devils start the first ever Women’s Super League season with four Scots in the squad. Fullback Kirsty Smith and forwards Lizzie Arnot and Kirsty Hanson were part of the side that won the FA Championship last season whilst experienced striker Jane Ross has been brought in from West Ham United to help, ahem, lead the line.

It’s been a tough start for United in playing both Manchester City and defending champions Arsenal but both Smith and Ross have played their parts. Ross will most likely be the most prominent of the quartet in the squad despite having not yet got on the WSL scoresheet for her new side but United, under Casey Stoney, will be one of the stories to follow over the course of the season with the Scottish contingent sure to play a part as the narrative unfolds.

Reading

German born Sophie Howard signed for Reading last season after a three year spell with 1899 Hoffenheim. Capable of playing at centre half or at right back she has started both of the Royals games so far this season and will continue to look for regular game time as she tries to displace Jen Beattie and Rachel Corsie in the national side.

Tottenham Hotspur

Whilst North London rivals Arsenal have a squad sprinkled with Scottish talent there are currently no Scots to be found in Karen Hills’ Spurs squad.

West Ham United

Something that can also be said of the Hammers since the departure of Jane Ross to Manchester United.

So that’s it all 19 players covered, there will be updates throughout the season, most likely even more so when the Scottish season comes to an end in November, and the hope is over the next few months I’ll be able to get down and see some of them do their thing live in person.

But for now, and as always, remember you can now follow Leading the Line via Twitter @LeadingtheLine. Here there will be live insight from the games, comments on the breaking stories from the world of women’s football news as well as early sight of what will be coming via the podcast and on the website. It’s right good!

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