Sam Kerr is just one of the stars who will be on show in what shapes as an exciting W-League season.
Sam Kerr is just one of the stars who will be on show in what shapes as an exciting W-League season. DARREN PATEMAN

Sydney derby signals start of W-League season

FOX Sports football expert TARA RUSHTON takes a look at the new W-League season which starts on Thursday

THE new W-League season is shaping up as the most anticipated and exciting season in the national competition's 11-year history.

This year's Westfield W-League season is the first time that we'll see the entire Matilda's squad taking part in the competition and with a World Cup just around the corner you can guarantee that the level of competition will be at an all-time high.

The action kicks off on Thursday night when the Western Sydney Wanderers take on Sydney FC in the first ever Hers-day night encounter on Fox Sports and continues with 14 rounds of edge-of-the-seat action.

 

Foxsports presenter Tara Rushton.
Foxsports presenter Tara Rushton.

Grand final winners

Sydney FC scored more goals than any side in the W-League last year and lost just three games during the regular season.

They went into last year's grand final against Melbourne City as red-hot favourites but losing Caitlin Foord to injury proved too big a hurdle to overcome.

With Foord back and fit this season and with fellow Matildas Chloe Logarzo and Lisa De Vanna, Sydney have one of the most potent front three in the competition.

 

Caitlin Foord will again be important for Sydney FC.
Caitlin Foord will again be important for Sydney FC. DANIEL MUNOZ

Sydney have also recruited extremely well this season. The signing of Alanna Kennedy from Melbourne City is huge for the club as she's one of the best centre-backs in the country.

Teams to watch

Perth Glory would have been disappointed with the way their season went last year.

There was a lot of expectation on them going into the season, but injuries hurt them throughout the year and to finish outside of the finals would have been a massive letdown.

Any side with Sam Kerr, arguably one of the best players in the world, is going to be a threat.

Add to that that Kerr is preparing to lead the Matildas to a World Cup and is spells danger to every team in the competition.

Glory have a strong roster this season with Rachel Hill, Alyssa Mautz and Nikki Stanton all returning and they've also got one of the most exciting young attacking players in Jacynta Galabadaarachchi.

The other team to watch is reigning premiers Brisbane Roar.

The Roar were the most consistent side in the W-League last season and their roster looks even stronger this season.

 

Katrina Gorry is among the stars in a strong Roar line-up.
Katrina Gorry is among the stars in a strong Roar line-up. DAVID MOIR

They have plenty of experience in Matildas Katrina Gorry and Hayley Raso and have also recruited one of the best players in the world in Japanese World Cup winner Yuki Nagasato.

Golden Boot winner

It's hard to go past Kerr. Kerr was outstanding in the W-League last season. Her hat--trick against Newcastle was simply breathtaking.

Kerr also comes into this season off the back of a Golden Boot-winning season in the US where she netted 16 goals, even after she failed to score a goal in the first four games of the season.

Players to watch

Perth young gun Jacynta Galabadaarachchi is one of the most exciting players in the country.

She was just 15 years of age when she was first called into the Matildas squad and has come on in leaps and bounds since.

She had limited opportunities with Melbourne City last year but if given more game time this year, and playing alongside the likes of Sam Kerr, she could be the breakout player of the competition.

Elise Kellond-Knight will make her return to the W-League for the first time since 2015 and she will be looking to make a massive impression with the World Cup just around the corner.

 

Elise Kellond-Knight returns for Melbourne City.
Elise Kellond-Knight returns for Melbourne City. DARREN PATEMAN

Kellond-Knight made the World Cup team of the tournament in 2015 and returns to Melbourne City after a positive stint playing overseas.

Remi Siemsen has made the jump to the Western Sydney Wanderers from Sydney FC following a successful short-term stint in America.

Siemsen will get the first crack at playing up front for the Wanderers and will be pushing for selection in the Matildas World Cup squad.

Julie Doolan Medal winner

Last year it was impossible to split Kerr and Clare Polkinghorne with the pair walking away as joint winners of the Julie Doolan Medal and this year I'm tipping that we'll see joint winners again.

 

Sam Kerr will be one to watch as she leads the way for Perth Glory.
Sam Kerr will be one to watch as she leads the way for Perth Glory. DARREN PATEMAN

It's hard to tip anything but a Kerr win this year, she's one of the best players in the world and is returning to Perth with a point to prove this season.

She'll be fired up after Glory's disappointing season last year and will be priming herself for the Matildas World Cup campaign.

The other player I see having a massive year is Kellond-Knight.

It's the first time in three years that Kellond-Knight has played in the W-League and she'll be a key factor in the Melbourne City's premiership charge.

 

Don't miss a second of the Westfield W-League with every game LIVE on FOX SPORTS or streamed at Foxsports.com.au



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