PFA Player of the Year: England or Miedema? BBC pundits’ WSL verdict

The Women’s Super League season ended prematurely following the outbreak of coronavirus but there were still a number of stunning individual performances.

Who was the standout player throughout the campaign? Only one will be named the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year.

Eight BBC pundits, including commentators, writers and former players have all given their views and it’s a two-horse race between Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema and Chelsea’s Bethany England.

Norway international Guro Reiten, who joined Chelsea last summer, was also given a mention so you can choose from those three selections below and keep reading to see who the pundits chose as their number one…

If you are viewing this page on the BBC News app please click here to vote.

1. Alex Scott (former Arsenal and England defender) – Bethany England (first vote)

It’s close between England and Miedema. But England had a really special season.

When you look at the way she left Chelsea on loan, then came back and really fought as an English striker to prove herself and break into the national team, then you can see how hard she has worked for her success.

The goals she has scored have put her in the limelight along with Fran Kirby, Ji So-yun and the other Chelsea stars. She deserves it, and all the plaudits she gets.

  • From ‘not fitting in’ to prolific striker

2: Lindsay Johnson (former England and Everton defender) – Vivianne Miedema (first vote)

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Technically, Miedema is the best finisher.

Even when she is not involved in the game, she has always got a goal in her.

3. Rachel Brown-Finnis (former England and Everton goalkeeper) – Bethany England (2)

It’s not just been a prolific season for England, it’s been a breakthrough campaign too, with her being top goalscorer for Chelsea and making it into the England squad.

She has put herself on the map and it has been really nice hearing her voice, explaining how she feels she has improved and how Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has been a huge part in that, in giving her that real self-belief she needed.

That is what has helped Beth really kick on since she first signed for Chelsea in 2016 and went back out on loan.

She seems to me to be the perfect professional so I think what she has done shows the difference it makes when you have that confidence to go with your ability.

Having seen her play at Doncaster Belles and during that loan at Liverpool when she did not get a chance at Chelsea, initially, to see her now going toe-to-toe with her team-mate Sam Kerr, who is touted as one of the best forwards in the world, has really made me smile.

It is great to see a new star announce themselves in the game, and it is not as if she has just come on to the scene, she has really had to dig deep, and think about how she needed to improve to get the best out of herself, and that is what we’re seeing now.

I feel really proud of what she’s done and what the team around her have done to help her make that happen.

4. Tom Garry (BBC Sport reporter) – Vivianne Miedema (2)

At this stage of the women’s game’s growth, inspirational players are invaluable to the sport. Young players and fans need idols and – in so many ways – Miedema is the perfect idol.

She is effortlessly brilliant, yet not arrogant; lethal in front of goal, yet unselfish; in constant demand for autographs, selfies and interviews, yet polite, unassuming and grounded.

Then of course there are her goals – relentless in their frequency and each illustrating her intelligence off the ball – but her world-class abilities are better exemplified by her deft first touch, her clever movement and her instinctive eye for a precise through ball.

All of those qualities came together in unison on 1 December 2019, when the Netherlands striker produced the most devastating individual performance we have seen since the Women’s Super League began, netting six goals and providing four assists in Arsenal’s 11-1 victory over Bristol City, without even appearing to break a sweat. Iconic.

5. Karen Carney (ex-England and Chelsea midfielder) – Bethany England (3)

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When Beth first came to Chelsea, you could see all the talent was there but the timing wasn’t quite right and she needed to build more confidence.

She went on loan to Liverpool and she was like a different player when she came back. She has every element you want as a striker. She can hold the ball up, she is strong, she is quick and her finishing has improved loads.

To do it for Chelsea and have the confidence to keep doing it when someone like Sam Kerr joined in January… she just cracked on with her business. Some players can crumble at that pressure.

And I still think there is a lot more to come. She was a massive part in Chelsea’s success this season. I watched her goal at Stamford Bridge in the first game and I feel like that kicked her on. It looked like she had a point to prove.

6. Vicki Sparks (BBC Match of the Day and Radio 5 Live commentator) – Vivianne Miedema (3)

England has had a great season but if you look at what Miedema has done on the world stage too, she has been unreal.

The Bristol City game… she scored six goals and got four assists! What more can you say about that!

It’s so clear that her and Arsenal fit together well. You see it on the international stage with the Netherlands too because the way those teams play just suits Miedema’s style so well. It’s clear that she is really settled and is enjoying her football.

I love the way she is so relaxed when she plays. Everything she does – her movement and her finishing – is so natural. She is a predator in front of goal but she is more than that because of the way she sees the game and moves.

It’s remarkable that she has only just turned 24 and is already the all-time leading goalscorer for the Netherlands. Her numbers are absolutely staggering. It’s frightening that she is so young and is finding that consistency in goals.

It’s just exciting to have her in the WSL. England had an incredible season as well and it’s been great to see her really develop and blossom with Chelsea. She’s clearly been the second standout player just behind Miedema.

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7. Joshua Adu-Donkor (BBC Radio 5 Live commentator) – Bethany England (4)

England had a fantastic season and scored in pretty much every important fixture.

She scored two in the Continental Cup final, scored a worldie against Manchester City, scored against defending champions Arsenal at home, netted at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend…

People were a little bit worried when Kerr arrived – a world superstar – and whether that would affect England. But she has raised her game and dealt with it.

She gives Chelsea that X-factor. She scores different types of goals too and has grown. That’s why I am putting her ahead of Miedema. She’s not a born star but has really worked hard, taken her chance and been excellent.

8. Robyn Cowen (BBC Match of the Day and Radio 5 Live commentator) – Bethany England (5)

With England, it’s all about her consistency. After that loan spell at Liverpool, she has been constantly scoring goals and getting in the right positions.

She looks athletic, confident and calm. I feel like she has been transformed. She was probably not quite ready to play for Chelsea before she went out on loan.

But now England scores all types of goals. I was at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s first game of the season and she scored that screamer against Tottenham and she is one of those players where she has improved so much on both feet, that you can’t tell which is her preferred shooting foot now.

She has just been really proficient in her skill set. There is pretty much nothing she can’t do in terms of all-round centre-forward play. With Kerr coming in too, Hayes has done brilliantly to play them together and England has even shone brighter than Kerr so far.

Kerr has obviously not had that much time to settle but her link-up play with England is developing. It’s really exciting for Chelsea.

Miedema and Reiten have also had great seasons. Miedema’s goalscoring ability is second-to-none and she has done incredible stuff on the international stage but England is a late bloomer and that makes me like her even more.

She has shown that you can still do it if you work hard. She has spoken about her struggles on loan and how she has dealt with her mental health.

And now she has turned into not only a fantastic footballer, but a really inspirational leader and person in football.

  • England on building her on confidence

And the winner is… Bethany England

England wins by five votes to three – will the Women’s Super League players agree with our pundits’ though?

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