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Manchester United WFC vs. Chelsea FCW, WSL: Team news, preview, how to watch

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The FA WSL Champions return!

Manchester United v Chelsea FC - FA Women’s Continental League Cup: Semi-Final Photo by Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images

Last weekend, Chelsea dispatched Manchester City to take home the Women’s Community Shield. Never one to play favorites, the Blues will attempt to similarly dispose of the red half of Manchester on Sunday. It won’t be an easy task, as Manchester United gave Chelsea everything we could handle on two different occasions last season. In both cases, Chelsea came out on top 1-0, courtesy each time of a Maren Mjelde winner. After cagey matches last year, both teams will no doubt anticipate a competitive afternoon.

Date / Time: Sunday, September 6, 2020, 14:30 BST; 9:30am EDT; 7pm IST
Venue: Leigh Sports Village, Greater Manchester, England
Forecast: Mild with a chance of rain

On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); none (USA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); The FA Player (countries without TV deals/listings)

Manchester United WFC team news: Established in 2018, Manchester United WFC haven’t taken long to show they have big goals for the future. In their inaugural season, they won the second division to earn promotion to the WSL. They finished last year in 4th place and hope to reach further heights this campaign by challenging the WSL’s traditional “top three”.

Manager Casey Stoney’s quick transition from playing career into management has been impressive, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. We may remember that in 2009, Stoney was named player-manager of the as then-named Chelsea Ladies, following the resignation of manager Steve Jones. Her leadership qualities have had a decade to grow and she knows the challenges of the WSL well.

Summer signings have further revealed United’s intent for the future. They’ve brought in two young, promising talents in Ona Battle and Ivana Fuso. Battle, 21, brings pace and a penchant for attack to the fullback position. She signed from Barcelona and was capped for the first time last year by the Spanish national team. Fuso, a Brazilian born forward who has appeared for Germany’s U19 team, scored 6 goals in 13 appearances last year for Basel. The final signing of the summer, Lucy Staniforth, is a well known quantity, joining her sixth WSL team, having made over 100 league appearances in total. Her experience will come as a valuable addition.

UPDATE: And they’re not done, with USWNT stars Tobin Heath and Christen Press set to join!

The new signings will join established key squad members such as Millie Turner, Jessica Sigsworth, and the captain, Katie Zelem. Turner led the team in minutes last season and is part of a stingy back line which allowed less than a goal per match last season. Leah Galton has looked dangerous in pre-season, particularly in the final tuneup match against Liverpool. And of course another familiar name is Lauren James, sister of Reece James, and still only 18. James has scored 20 goals for the club and is one of four nominees for the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year.

Chelsea FCW team news: As is always the case, the abundant talent available will leave manager Emma Hayes with some decisions to make. Even with new signing, superstar Pernille Harder just settling in to life in London and unlikely to feature, there are plenty of choices available in attack. A strong showing from Fran Kirby last weekend points to her likely inclusion on the right wing. Guro Reiten is expected to take up her usual position on the opposite flank. Up top, Kerr started last weekend but struggled to put away chance after chance. Bethany England, always deserving of her place, may get the nod from manager Emma Hayes.

Ji So-yun is always a creative influence, taking up places all over the pitch and capable of picking a key pass to break down a backline. With Chelsea managing just one goal against United in each of the two games last year, Ji will need to be at her best on Sunday. Melanie Leupolz made an impressive debut for the club last weekend with her pressing and passing. It would be hard to see her being left out of the starting XI.

After scoring the winning goal in both matchups between these clubs last year, Maren Mjelde is sure to draw attention. She isn’t the only Blues defender who can score a goal, as shown by Millie Bright’s howitzer in the Community Shield. Bright and Mjelde are likely to join captain Magda Ericsson and Jonna Anderson in defense, where they are notoriously difficult to break down. After holding Manchester United scoreless twice last year, Chelsea will be looking for their third consecutive clean sheet in the rivalry.

Previously: Winner winner Mjelde goal dinner.