Lineups are out. We’re set to go.
Here's the Blues starting XI: Lindahl; Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Eriksson; Blundell, Chapman, Mjelde, Davison; Spence, Carney; Kirby #CLFC— Chelsea Ladies FC (@ChelseaLFC) September 24, 2017
Date/Time: Sunday September 24 at 12:30 PM BST
Venue: Kingsmeadow Stadium, Kingston-upon-Thames — this will be Chelsea’s home opener in the stadium the purchased specifically to be the Ladies’ and the Academy’s home stadium.
Forecast: Partly cloudy, 20°C (68°F), 52% humidity, wind SSE 9 mph.
On TV/Streaming: In new coverage available this season, the match will be streamed live on BBC Sport’s website for UK viewers, which means it won’t be streaming on ChelseaTV. I’ve reached out to the club to inquire about whether they’ll be showing full replays in these cases, but no word back as of yet, and I don’t see any listed on the CTV schedule for the week.
Notable Team News: For Chelsea, Deanna Cooper is still recovering from knee surgery, with the latest news being that she may not even be able to return this season. This is quite a blow for the Blues, though they have signed two players in the offseason who can step in to fill Cooper’s role (if not her boots). Bristol City have no injuries to speak of, and will be bursting with confidence following their 2-0 defeat of Liverpool in preseason.
Expected Lineups: Generally, you wouldn’t expect Emma Hayes to try anything too different here from the set-up that trounced BCFC 4-0 when they met in the Spring Series in May. However, her options are quite different ahead of this match, with a few players returning to the squad after recovering from injuries, one missing, and a couple new signings. We should see a formation along the lines of a 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1, with dangerman Fran Kirby resuming her role up front, and the now-familiar spine of Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman, and Ji So-Yun filling the space in between Kirby and starting keeper Hedvig Lindahl, who is a welcome returner from her springtime injury. Beyond those pieces and the inclusion of Millie Bright in either defense or midfield, the rest of the team selection is a bit of a question mark, though Hayes-favorite Karen Carney is unlikely to start on the bench. Bristol City play a good style of football, and they have improved their defending, as evidenced by the victory over the Reds, but Chelsea’s attacking players should be able to break down the Vixens over the course of 90 minutes, as they did last time out. Nevertheless, with solid young midfielder Millie Turner wearing the armband for BCFC, we can assume a tough fight from the side that finished one up from bottom in the Spring Series.
Prediction: An optimistic prediction says Hayes has her side ready to go, and the Blues see it out comfortably. Predicted Scoreline: 3-0.
Liverpool have already jumped out to an extremely early lead in the title race with their victory over Everton on Friday. Time for us to strike back, and sit where we belong.