In the last four starts to their season Chelsea Women were beaten. Even Liverpool, who had just been promoted to first division, managed to beat the Blues in the first match of last season. And we still managed to get the league title in each of these years.
But with the WSL horizon getting ever harder to navigate with every team improving their squad each summer, Chelsea couldn’t really afford another bad start. This might have made the Blues a bit nervier than usual as Tottenham managed to win a few midfield battles and got some early attempt at Zecira Musovic’s goal.
The Blues were still the better side at Stamford Bridge, with Mia Fishel starting as no.9 in Sam Kerr’s absence really trying her best to build early rapport with her teammates. She was a great outlet to Guro Reiten, Lauren James and Niamh Charles in her dropbacks from the attacking third, and got the reward of a headed goal after a great cross from Charles.
First half ended with Tottenham’s Martha Thomas nearly scoring the tying goal, with Musovic and new captain Millie Bright both intervening to stop her from doing so. Chelsea would need to be calmer on the ball if they were to retain and build from the lead they got thanks to Fishel.
That was well understood by Chelsea when they returned from halftime. The Blues stayed calm in midfield and upped the ante in the attacking third, giving no room for Tottenham to breath in the process. This pressure eventually led to Chelsea scoring a clear goal that was wrongly dismissed by the lack of goalline technology in the WSL, and then to finally adding a second via Lauren James following another Charles assist.
Niamh Charles finds Lauren James what a goal! pic.twitter.com/Yd1Uf2Z1hg— CfcwComps (@Compscfcw_) October 1, 2023
A two-goal lead did wonders to our spirits, and Chelsea were allowed to keep tempo down and just frustrate the hell out of Spurs with good defence and at times Musovic interventions. It also gave us the opportunity to bring Fran Kirby back to the pitch after almost eight months out of contention.
However Chelsea might have let their guards down a bit too much. Martha Thomas, who looked very dangerous throughout the match on the opposing side, got herself in the scoresheet to ruin Musovic’s clean sheet after the Swedish international’s great effort between the posts.
Tottenham tried to score the equaliser off our “bobbliness” but with the help of debutant Ashley Lawrence, Chelsea finally stabilized their defence and got to hold the ball back in Tottenham’s half until the final whistle.
- Mia Fishel starts as centre-forward since Sam Kerr is still recovering from injury after the World Cup.
- Subs are Fran Kirby (!!!) for Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Melanie Leupolz for Sjoeke Nüsken, Jessie Fleming for Guro Reiten, Ashley Lawrence for Lauren James, and Jelena Cankovic for Maren Mjelde.
- A debut goal for Fishel!
- Sjoeke Nüsken already starting in central midfield and clearly trying to do too many things all at once. This did almost lead to a debut goal in the first half so it isn’t all bad.
- There might not be another Chelsea player in any squad who’s more deserving of the captain’s armbrace than Millie Bright. It just fits her so well!
- Kirby back on the pitch after so many months.
- Not a good game from veteran Maren Mjelde today at the back. Given her performances last season and during the World Cup, Ève Périsset will most likely lock that right-back position down if Mjelde doesn’t upgrade her playing level.
- ...and then comes Ashley Lawrence to substitute Maren and give Chelsea the stability they need at the right flank to close out the game. A good headscratcher for Emma Hayes!
- Next up: Manchester City away for the Women’s Super League.