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Manchester City vs. Chelsea, Women’s FA Cup Semifinal: Preview, team news, how to watch

We meet again...

Manchester City v Chelsea - FA Women’s Continental League Cup Quarter Final Photo by Harriet Lander - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

The women’s international break is, mercifully, over, and Chelsea are straight back into it, as we now face Manchester City (again) at their Academy Stadium (again) in the FA Cup (again).

This is technically still last season’s FA Cup, which was postponed due to COVID-19-related issues. That makes it a rare chance to add to the previous season’s trophy cabinet, which is already home to the 2020-21 WSL Championship and 2020-21 League Cup honors.

To do so, first the Blues will need to get by a wounded, physically and likely emotionally, Manchester City. Their efforts to figure out life without Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle (who returned to the NWSL) as well as Chloe Kelly and Lucy Bronze (both recovering from injury: Kelly — ACL; Bronze — knee surgery), aren’t going very smoothly.

City’s form in the league has been well off the pace that kept them in a tight battle for the league title just a few months ago. Through five league games City sit 9th(!) with just one win, one draw and three losses to Tottenham, West Ham and a 5-0 battering by Arsenal. It’s early, but unless some uncharacteristic, and frankly catastrophic, things happen to Chelsea and Arsenal, City are already our of contention for the league title.

Of course, this is still a big WSL rivalry and Chelsea can expect City to look to turn their season around by putting in an aggressive performance against the Blues. Chelsea will have to match City’s intensity, defend calmly, and convert chances in order to move into the final to face either Arsenal or Brighton at Wembley.

Date / Time: Sunday, October 31, 2021, 12.45 GMT; 8:45am EDT; 6:45pm IST
Venue: Academy Stadium, Manchester, England
Forecast: Showers; 53°F/12°C
How to watch: ESPN+ (USA), BBC One & BBC iPlayer (UK & Ireland), Sportsnet (Canada), Star+ & ESPN 2 Brasil (Brazil)

Birmingham City Women v Chelsea Women: Vitality Women’s FA Cup Quarter Final Photo by Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Chelsea team news: The majority of the players were away on various international duties, with Sam Kerr having the longest trip courtesy of two matches against Brazil in Australia. Kerr is used to this sort of travel, but don’t be surprised if she starts on the bench after so much time in the air.

The last time we saw Chelsea, we had shed our new 343 in favor of a more familiar 433, though I don’t expect that to become the norm once again. If the 343 returns, the selection choices to watch will be in defense, where Hayes could opt to give Aniek Nouwen another start in place of Jess Carter. It’s also been a few matches since we’ve seen Niamh Charles at right wing-back, as the position has seemingly been claimed by Erin Cuthbert.

Hayes did note that this match is probably still too soon for new signing Lauren James, who has yet to feature since joining Chelsea in the summer.

Manchester City team news: Though City are still dealing with a handful of crucial injuries, they received a boost with new signings Vicky Losada and Hayley Raso coming back to training. City’s defense will likely still be makeshift however. They’ve resorted to playing Jill Scott (a defensive midfielder) at center back, and forwards Georgia Stanway and Janine Beckie have both spent time at fullback.

City are also facing somewhat of a goalkeeper crisis as their usual No.1, Ellie Roebuck is recovering from a calf injury and backup goalkeeper Khiara Keating suffered a fractured elbow on international duty.

Previously: Chelsea triumphed 4-2 in extra-time in last year’s League Cup quarterfinals; enjoy!