MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 05: Madison Prespakis of the Blues in action during the 2021 AFLW Round 02 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Carlton Blues at VU Whitten Oval on February 05, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Blues are entering 2022 with the expectation that they will bounce back from their slide down the ladder in 2021.

After a disappointing season, Carlton was extremely active in their draft and trade period and come into 2022 with more youth on their list.

2021 Recap

2021 proved to be an inconsistent and underwhelming year for the Blues. While they looked set to make a push for the finals, the Princes Park side buckled under pressure in the early parts of the season, losing close contests against Collingwood and the Bulldogs.

Whilst Carlton became one of the highest-scoring teams in the competition, their inability to play out four quarters and an untimely suspension to star player Madison Prespakis in the middle of the season ultimately cost them a spot in the finals.

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Experienced campaigner Darcy Vescio led the way up forward and provided a full highlight reel as she claimed her second league-leading goalkicker award.

In addition to this, the 2020 W Award winner Prespakis continued on as the main workhorse in the Midfield and started to hit the scoreboard more regularly.

The young midfield including Grace Egan, Lucy McEvoy, Abbie McKay, and Mimi Hill, showed plenty of promise and provided hope for future seasons to come.

Off-season moves

Over the 2021 trade period, Carlton said goodbye to some big names in Tayla Harris, Jess Hosking, and co-captain Katie Loynes. After opening up that space on their list, the Blues attacked the draft with Annie Lee being a popular vote for the rising star award.

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Recruits: Jess Dal Pos (GWS), Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons, replacement player)

Draftees: Jess Good (free agent), Annie Lee, Imogen Milford, Keeley Sherar, Brooke Vickers

Inactive: Serena Gibbs (mental health)

Out: Chloe Dalton (GWS), Tayla Harris (Melbourne), Jess Hosking (Richmond), Katie Loynes (GWS), Jess Edwards, Winnie Laing (delisted), Alison Downie (delisted, then Collingwood)

Season summary

Collingwood (H), Brisbane (A), Western Bulldogs (A), North Melbourne (H), Adelaide (H), Fremantle (A), St Kilda (H), GWS (A), Gold Coast (H), Melbourne (A)

Defining period

The Blues face a difficult fixture but rounds seven, eight and nine are must-wins for Daniel Harford's side. If they are going to cement a spot in the finals, they need to make a statement in these contests.

In the final round of the season, the Blues will face Melbourne away from home. If they are on track for a finals finish, this match will test how far they can go.

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Predictions 

The Blues are in the mix for premiership success in 2022. They will be looking to climb back up the ladder and become a more threatening opponent for their opposition.

Consistency across four quarters and cohesion amongst the team will go a long way to ensuring Carlton achieve the finals finish that they are truly capable of.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Carlton fans are see during the AFLW Preliminary Final match between the Carlton Blues and the Fremantle Dockers at Ikon Park on March 23, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

Niesha Happell: 7th

Mitch Keating: 8th

Danielle Sorati: 8th

Jake Benoiton: 7th

Ed Carmine: 8th

Cameron Grimes: 7th

Michael Georgiou: 8th