It’s a rare Chelsea Doubleheader Saturday! Get your Chelsea Day started early by tuning in for Chelsea Women’s match versus Aston Villa ahead of Chelsea men taking on Burnley.
Chelsea’s international break ended earlier than Aston Villa’s, as the Blues had to go to Manchester and beat City for a berth in the 2020-21 FA Cup Final. Aston Villa have not only had the benefit of an additional week of rest, but they are likely delighted to see the month of October end. Theirs began with a 4-0 loss to Arsenal followed by a 3-0 loss to Reading, and in the League Cup group stages they lost to Championship side Liverpool on penalties.
One thing Chelsea haven’t quite figured out in our shiny new 343 formation is how to attack teams that bunker in and around their own box, a tactic I expect Aston Villa will deploy. They’re not in a terrible position in the league (7th), but this match kicks off an intense run for them in the league where picking up unexpected points could help them maintain a midtable position.
With the only thing separating Chelsea and Arsenal being the three points the Gunners grabbed over Chelsea in the first game of the season, Chelsea need to pick up three points every time they’re available.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 6, 2021, 12.30 GMT; 8:30am EDT; 6:00pm IST
Venue: Bescot Stadium, Walsall, UK
Forecast: Cloudy; 53°F/12°C
How to watch: The FA Player (free; just create a login using an email address, sign in, and enjoy)
Chelsea team news: Pernille Harder and Ji So-yun were the only regular starters to miss out during last weekend’s FA Cup semifinal win away at Manchester City. Emma Hayes noted that Harder picked up a hip injury while playing for Denmark and they decided to give it more time to heal, while Ji was still recovering from an international trip to the States to face the U.S. Women’s National Team with South Korea. Both, presumably, will be available for selection.
Maren Mjelde and Lauren James participated in an Academy match this past Wednesday to test their fitness and build up match readiness. No major concerns have been reported from the match, but don’t expect to see either get into this match, as it will likely be a bit longer before Hayes feels comfortable in given them some minutes, even as substitutes.
The other major note is Aniek Nouwen seems to have impressed Hayes enough to earn starts in the center of the back three. It’s too soon to be able to tell if she’s supplanted Carter in that role in the preferred XI, but another start would certainly indicate that she’s on her way to securing that spot.
Aston Villa team news: Villa manager Carla Ward has been searching for some consistency in her team. They started decently enough, beating newly promoted Leicester, drawing with West Ham, and taking three points from Brighton, whose only other loss was to Chelsea.
But their awful October has made them an unpredictable team to face, particularly as they’ve had three weeks to prepare. Though Arsenal still won easily, 4-0, at the start of the month, Ward attempted to keep them at bay by starting in a 541. It made things nervy enough for the Gunners to go into the half at 0-0, and keep it at just a narrow 1-0 advantage going into the final ten minutes. Don’t be surprised if Ward deploys a similar tactic versus Chelsea.
(The Blues will also be lining up against a familiar face in former Blue, Anita Asante!)
Previously: Chelsea defeated Aston Villa 2-0 courtesy of a brace by none other than Sam Kerr!