For the first time in ages, Chelsea FC Women welcome (700) fans back to Kingsmeadow.
Emma Hayes, and many of the players have stately repeatedly the challenge of playing without fans. Chelsea may be heavily favored against West Ham, but the return of fans should give that bit of extra boost still.
Date / Time: Sunday, December 6, 2020, 12:30pm BST; 7:30am EDT; 6:00pm IST
Referee: Rebecca Welch
Forecast: Chilly, Dry
Chelsea FCW team news: After playing infrequently over the past several months, Sunday’s match against West Ham begins an important run of matches for the Blues. With an eye on a return to Champions League action midweek Emma Hayes may choose to use Sunday to shake off any rustiness for key players. Alternatively, she may prefer saving some of her “big guns” for Benfica on Wednesday.
Fran Kirby has indicated she is ready to return to action following the international layoff and the ankle injury that caused her to miss several matches recently. Also returning to the squad is Hannah Blundell, though she may ready for only limited action after a lengthy spell out.
Many of the Blues were in action over the international break, but one performance of note was Ann-Katrin Berger who earned a well deserved first ever cap for Germany. Sweden’s Jonna Andersson also picked up an international first, scoring her first goal for country against Slovakia.
West Ham United Women team news: The Irons have had a difficult start to the WSL campaign, currently siting in 9th place. They hold the second worst goal differential and have also conceded the second most goals in league play (20). That is a potential recipe for disaster against a Chelsea squad known for scoring early and often. West Ham did keep a clean sheet in their last outing, back in November, beating second division side Charlton Athletic 4-0 in a Continental Cup matchup.
The day following that victory, Matt Beard stepped down from his head coaching role by mutual consent. Until a permanent replacement is named, club coaches Billy Stewart and Paul McHugh have been placed in charge. Manager changes often bring at least a temporary boost to form and The Irons will hope that begins against Chelsea.
West Ham have enough talent in their squad to be dangerous. Rachel Daly has yet to have the desired impact when she was brought in on loan from Houston. Still, the Blues know her talent and will look to keep her from exploding to life. Emily van Egmond, international teammate of Sam Kerr, has found her shooting boots of late, scoring four goals in her past five matches. Fellow Aussie Mackenzie Arnold has played every minute of league play between the posts and will no doubt be tested frequently.
Previously: The Blues hammered the Irons to the tune of 8-0 in February. Maren Mjelde and Bethany England each recorded a brace in the rout.