With Manchester City’s start to the season, many of their players have impressive numbers. After an injury in pre-season Ellen White has hit the ground running, Tessa Wullaert has added some xG contribution to her impressive progression numbers, teenager Lauren Hemp has impressed and Caroline Weir has been quite progressive in possession and hugely active when out of possession for the Citizens. Behind all of these, however, Keira Walsh seems to be somewhat quietly having a great season.
The 22-year-old had some strong progressive passing numbers last season, looking like the best midfielder in the league for that category, and this season has seen her continue that trend. The plot below shows her progression via passes per 90 and her xT from passes per 90 compared with midfielders and forwards.
Like Miedema, she’s also added more creativity this season. Walsh has great passing ability but wasn’t one to make the final ball in 2018/19. Her open play xA per 90 was 0.11 but this season it’s jumped up to 0.34 per 90, 2nd in the league behind only Vivianne Miedema.
While City have lined up a bit differently in recent weeks, with a 4-4-2 kind of shape featuring an attacking Janine Beckie at right-back, Jill Scott tucked in on the right and one of Tessa Wullaert or Georgia Stanway just behind Ellen White, Walsh’s role in the system is largely the same. Besides her assist for Weir in the game against Chelsea, where she pinged a nice ball into the box, most high-value chances she’s created have been a result of a great ball from deep sending a player in on goal.
After handing in a transfer request and attracting interest from Lyon in the summer, City will be glad Walsh decided to stay in Manchester as she seems to be cementing her place as the best deep-lying midfielder in the division.