UPDATE: The match has been postponed due to adverse weather conditions.
Ahead of both prior matches with Manchester United this season I have used this space to caution you: to tell you that United’s women’s team may be new (est. 2018) but that they were formidable. That they deploy a defensively frustrating brand of football that makes the top sides thankful to eke out wins against them. So as we approach a third match with the Red Devils, and having won our two previous, I think it’s fair to say that…
We should be cautious, United are formidable, and we would head back south with a sigh of relief should we eke out another win against opposition this annoying. (You all should know me by now — if my skepticism works, who am I to question its power?)
Chelsea, however, are (so far) managing this spell without Ji So-yun and Sam Kerr rather brilliantly. Erin Cuthbert has sprung into life after a disappointing first half of the season, and seemingly everyone on the pitch believes they can stick the ball in the net. Since Ji and Kerr left to help their national teams qualify for the Summer Olympics, seven (7!) different Chelsea players have placed their names on the scoresheet.
It will take a similar effort to make this match more comfortable than the two Maren Mjelde goals that have given us our two wins over United.
Date / Time: Sunday, February 9, 2020; 16.30 GMT; 11:30am EST; 10:00pm IST
Venue: Leigh Sports Village Stadium
Forecast: Rain/Wind, 55°F/13°C
How to watch: The FA Player is the only thing you need to watch every FA WSL match for free — yes, FREE — barring any applicable local broadcast rights. Did I mention it’s free? It’s super free. Sign up on the FA Player website, bookmark the site, save Chelsea Women FC’s fixture schedule, and keep checking WAGNH.
Chelsea team news: No Ji and no Kerr again. The good news is that both are scoring for their national teams, but they’re still — at best — the better part of two weeks away from returning to Cobham.
Of course, Chelsea are still the deepest squad in the FA WSL so there will again be no excuses. Beth England is still scoring (because, as you might have heard, she scores when she wants) and Erin Cuthbert has found the magic in her boots again.
We’ll need those two in their current runs of form so that this time we won’t have to rely on another second-half goal from Maren Mjelde — who is the only Blue to have scored against Manchester United this season — to beat this pesky team.
Manchester United team news: Lauren James is the big star for the Reds. Her dribbling caused multiple problems for the Blues in our first matchup, as no one could get the ball off her, and she routinely weaved herself into dangerous areas to shoot or cross. The second matchup was much better, Chelsea pressed her with numbers to get her to give up the ball earlier than she wanted to. That tactic will either have to be replicated or adjusted to make sure she remains quiet for another 90 minutes.
Previously: Chelsea topped United in a tight Continental League Cup Semi-final, 1-0. In the 72nd minute, Maren Mjelde used a pair of sublime touches to corral a bouncing pass into the box from Erin Cuthbert and turn it into an assist. Turn the volume up on this one, the commentary is like music.
Sauce Moment of the Week: Erin Cuthbert is officially BACK. She assisted Mjelde’s winner against United in the League Cup, then notched a goal and two assists against West Ham. For her goal she clipped the ball across the defender with her right then smashed into the far corner with a brilliant half-volley with her left.