A sizeable crowd took to Stamford Bridge this Sunday to watch Chelsea Women face Manchester United in their return to Women’s Super League football after the winter break. And the Blues were clearly energized by the positivity coming from the stands.
It only took 20 seconds for Chelsea to get their first corner kick of the match. Three minutes later Lauren James, who had been booed by United fans every time she got close to the ball, would open the scoreline for the Blues.
It was great to get the lead so early into the game but oftentimes this leads to complacency from the winning team. This Chelsea team however is built differently, and they didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal as they continued to hound United in the final third.
Interestingly, the goal didn’t come from Chelsea’s high lines but from United’s instead. New signing Natalie Björn sent a beautiful deep pass from defence to Lauren in the attacking third, and the attacker did it again.
Left-back Niamh Charles, who captained the Blues today, got really close to adding a third before defence went to sleep at the final 15 minutes of the match. During their nap United pulled one back via Hayley Ladd as Geyse Ferreira was invited into our box to assist the midfielder.
The first half didn’t end well for Chelsea. The second half would start in a very similar way with Hannah Hampton forced into a couple of key interventions to stop United from tying the game.
Chelsea were seemingly unable to get anything surmounting to midfield control, and the visitors grew out of this situation. The decision to take Mia Fishel out for Sjoeke Nüsken, with Lauren now playing as no.9, led us to the same situation as last game’s where the Blues didn’t have a focal point in attack to create chances for.
Luckily United were getting tired themselves, and their defence began faltering in our attacking forays. A single slip made it so Lauren got herself again on a 1v1 against Mary Earps that she handily won.
- Big Fish and Hannah Hampton start! And Niamh Charles gets the captain’s armband.
- Lauren James netting a first half brace right in front of Manchester United’s fans.
- Far from great defending at the end of the first half. The goal was bound to come from this collective nap we took.
- Hannah showing why she got the starting nod with great distribution and shot-stopping.
- Gotta trust Emma in her clear attempt at turning Lauren into a centre-forward. She has all the physical and technical attributes, but you have to wonder whether she will develop the positional sense of someone like Sam Kerr to make this work.
- Next up: Real Madrid at home in the Women’s Champions League group stage.