Chelsea Women took another step towards qualification from the group stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions League with a 1-0 win over Servette midweek, though after a run of five away games in a row, the tiredness showed in a somewhat sloppy and lethargic performance.
However, it was the result that mattered and not the performance as it put Chelsea in prime position to finish top of the group with 10 points. Wolfsburg’s loss at home to Juventus means that Chelsea can qualify on match day 5 and be confirmed in first place if they win, or if we draw and Wolfsburg drop points again to Servette. Chelsea will be through regardless if Wolfsburg do not win against Servette.
Chelsea will look to finish on a positive note before the international break after what has been a phenomenal run of results since the last break as we face Birmingham City Women at home.
Date / Time: Sunday, November 21, 2021, 14.00 GMT; 9:00am EST; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Kingsmeadow, London, UK
Forecast: Cloudy; 45°F/7°C
How to watch: The FA Player (free; just create a login using an email address, sign in, and enjoy), the club will also be streaming the match live on Facebook
Chelsea team news: While the 3-4-3 formation continues to be the go-to for Emma Hayes, the team started with a 4-3-3 in the second half against City and then with a 4-4-2 from the get-go against Servette. While the former was a tactical adjustment and the latter an adjustment to the personnel, it looks likely that Hayes will flit back and forth between formations to suit the situation, as evidenced by the mid-game switches in formation in the last couple of games. While no opposition is to be taken lightly, I expect Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby may start this game on the bench with the likes of Beth England, Jess Fleming and Erin Cuthbert coming in as the attacking three. That will come as a relief to Birmingham as both Kerr and Kirby have scored four goals each in the last two games against these opponents.
Hayes will get a boost from long term absentees Maren Mjelde and Lauren James both featuring mid-week. However, there has been no word on when Pernille Harder might return. Hayes has been non-committal about setting a return date so Harder may not feature in this game either. Aniek Nouwen has not returned to the team sheet since she was taken off at half time against Aston Villa as a precaution. Apart from those two, everyone else seems fit.
Birmingham team news: Birmingham, who sacked manager Scott Booth on last Friday, have yet to win in the Women’s Super League this season, losing six of their seven league games so far. Chelsea will be wary of the new manager bounce or rather the interim effect Chelsea men’s team are all too familiar with.
That said, the record is heavily skewed in Chelsea’s favor having scored 19 goals in the last 5 games against Birmingham with no reply.
Previously: Chelsea needed Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby to come off the bench in the FA Cup Quarter Final to break the deadlock. Hopefully, that won’t be needed this time around.