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  • Writer's pictureAshlea Follows

Player Appreciation: Take a Bow, Rachel Daly

After recently being awarded the PFA Women’s player of the year and as of Wednesday evening also being nominated for the Women's Ballon d'Or, how good is Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly and how talented and versatile is she overall?

The 31-year-old moved to WSL side Aston Villa at the beginning of last season, bringing an end to her six-year spell out in America with Houston Dash.


In her debut season with Villa she scored 22 goals and grabbed 5 assists in 22 games, this therefore saw her awarded the golden boot for the season and most recently be awarded the PFA women’s player of the year. She simply was outstanding for Carla Ward’s side last season.

 

But just how good of a player is Rach Daly? Well in recent years she has proven she is a versatile player. At club level she has pretty much always played as a forward but for England she tends to be used more in defence.

 

So there is always the argument and debate from fans: is she a defender or is she an attacker…

 

At the most recent Women’s World Cup this year, Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman picked Daly as part of her forwards group, which so many fans were really excited about. The Lionesses had the best striker in England and arguably one of the best in the world wearing the number 9 and playing up front!

 

However, it didn’t quite work out the way all fans would have hoped for Daly in the end, former Manchester United and now Arsenal striker Alessia Russo was played as the number 9 for the first game against Haiti and throughout the entire tournament.

 

Last season for Manchester United Russo scored just 10 goals, which is still good, but in comparison to Daly’s 22 it’s pretty poor. So why is Daly not starting as the number 9? Well there’s two reasons, one we were lacking players in the left back position and two, Russo was brilliant at the Euros last summer.

 

But even when Wiegman changed the system where England played with two strikers, surprisingly Daly still didn’t make it, it was Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp who slotted in next to Russo.

 

The 31-year-old did appear in every game England played in, in fact she started in six out the seven games overall but as you may have guessed, not up front. She was used as a left back or left wing back.

Despite playing in her unfavoured position Daly never moaned and overall she played a massive part in the Lionesses defence throughout the tournament. She even managed to get on the scoresheet in England’s 6-1 victory over China in the group stages.

 

So this whole debate of is Rachel Daly an attacker or a defender, I’m going to try and answer it for you.

 

Rachel Daly is a STRIKER. After watching her last season for Villa she is one of the best strikers in the world at present, she’s 12 goals better than Russo (in the same league) as her stats show. I’m taking nothing away from her in defence though as during the WWC and Women’s Euros last year she was brilliant at the back and played a key role.

 

However, she scored 22 goals in 22 games for Villa last season, won the golden boot and is now the PFA Women’s player of the year but still plays in defence for England!

 

I think if she has another incredible goal scoring season for Villa then she has to be a striker for England, no more putting her in defence. I do think as well that if Sarina Wiegman had put Rach Daly up top with Russo in the WWC final against Spain we maybe, just maybe may have seen a different outcome to the result…

 

Overall, Rachel Daly is incredible, as a striker she is completely outstanding and in defence she isn’t half bad. One thing that’s certain though is Rach Daly has proved time and time again that she can score goals for fun, Villa boss Carla Ward can see it, and I can’t wait for Sarina Wiegman to realise sooner or later that we as Lionesses fans need to see Daly lead from the front in an England shirt for more than just one game, because she is our number 9!

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