While Manchester City’s early bad form in the previous season made it so the Women’s Super League championship battle would boil down to Chelsea Women and Arsenal, this has not been the case for the Citizens this season. Still one of the strongest teams in the country, they were clearly relishing a chance to take Chelsea down a peg in the current title race.
The home side did dominate early as they got really close to opening the score only three minutes into the match via Chloe Kelly, with Jess Carter intervening to save us from disaster. However Chelsea did get quite close to scoring thanks to Sam Kerr twice, who had a great chance wrongly deemed offside and then mishit her second attempt; followed by Sophie Ingle, forcing a good save from Ellie Roebuck.
City were shaken up by Chelsea’s menace, but quickly regained their footing. Their opening then came by with Lauren Hemp setting up Filippa Angeldahl for her first ever club goal.
It would be difficult for Chelsea to recover given the difference in energy levels itself. City did not have to play a midweek match and on top of that, were able to force the Blues into playing with their backs against the wall thanks to good possession and counter-pressing work.
When faced against this kind of pressure throughout this season, Chelsea often faltered. They did so again as Lauren Hemp got herself a goal, assisted by Laura Coombs.
Changes were needed and manager Emma Hayes answered in the first half already, taking out Sophie Ingle and Lauren James for Niamh Charles and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd. Neither were able to really impact the match as City continued to dominate the pitch until the whistle blew to mark the end of the first 45 minutes.
The second half showing could have given us some hope that the Blues would be able to learn from their mistakes of present and past and at least equalize. Instead what we saw was a Chelsea team really struggling to consistently mount attacks that could lead to a goal, as City who were more than comfortable with sitting back and let the Blues play lateral passes were the ones who got closer to scoring in the second half.
- Little change from the starting eleven that faced Lyon last week besides Maren Mjelde and Magda Eriksson, with the former filling in for the injured Millie Bright in defence.
- Subs are Niamh Charles for Sophie Ingle, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd for Lauren James, Jelena Cankovic for Maren Mjelde, Jessie Fleming for Erin Cuthbert
- A first half showing to keep in mind and work to improve upon.
- The early changes seemed to be more a matter of containing the harm already done rather than finding a way out of the hole Chelsea dug themselves into.
- WSL refereeing is already as joke as is. Without VAR, it’s beyond laughter.
- Taking James off for Kaneryd, who has yet to show why we invested on her, was a really baffling decision from Emma. Same goes for taking so long to get Cankovic on the pitch, with the Serbian international entering the field only at the 67th minute.
- The squad depth that was one of our strengths/highlights at the start of the season has been depleted by injuries. It shows how the medical department problems we have had really go beyond the men’s team.
- Erin Cuthbert goes out injured. Another one takes the toll.
- This result makes our league encounter with Arsenal at Kingsmeadow in May all the more important. That is, if we manage to win every other WSL match in our schedule until then.
- Next up: Lyon at home for the Women’s Champions League quarter-final second leg.