The Blues of Everton welcome the Blues of Chelsea to Walton Hall Park for our third meeting of the season, though just second officially.
The Toffees came away narrow 2-1 winners back in September, in the continuation of last season’s postponed FA Cup tournament. When the teams met again in November, this time in the league, Chelsea reasserted the expected dominance with a 4-0 victory at Kingsmeadow.
For this matchup, Chelsea will be heavy favorites, but Everton have shown they’re certainly capable of a surprise.
Date / Time: Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 19.00 GMT; 3pm EDT; 12:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Walton Hall Park
Referee: Emily Heaslip
Forecast: Mild, Dry
On TV: none
Streaming: The FA Player
Everton team news: Everton find themselves slightly adrift in fifth. While they probably won’t catch the four teams above them, they seem equally unlikely to drop below their current position.
Manager Willie Kirk oversees a well-rounded side, starting with reliable goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, who recently signed a new deal with the club. Fortunately for us, she’ll be unavailable for the match, so Tinja-Riikka Korpela will be called on in her absence. The Toffees will also be without Danielle Turner who has been an important part of their defense.
Other key defenders Megan Finnegan and Ingrid Moe Wold are available, and they have played nearly every WSL minute this season. Izzy Christiansen and Lucy Graham are the heart of the team in midfield. Both players have been key to their transitions, combining for 15 goals and assists in the league this season. Graham was a particular nuisance in Everton’s win back in November, providing both a crucial goal-line clearance and a game-winning goal. Valérie Gauvin leads the team in goals, but Hayley Ruso, Simone Magill, and Claire Emslie have all proven capable scorers as well.
Sadly, Walton Hall Park was vandalized last week, including a fire being set to a portion of the ground. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and the pitch and the changing areas were unaffected.
Terrible news being reported by the Liverpool Echo tonight that a fire was started deliberately at Everton Women’s Walton Hall Park Stadium. Extent of the damage not yet known. #EFC https://t.co/Bvldc9dOIS— Emma Sanders (@em_sandy) March 12, 2021
Chelsea FCW team news: The good news of Magda Eriksson’s return to the starting lineup against Bristol City was dampened by the terrible news of a season-ending injury to Maren Mjelde. Hannah Blundell is often used behind Mjelde on the depth chart, but Emma Hayes has additional options, including Niamh Charles. Charles has most often played higher up the pitch, but against most teams, Chelsea’s fullbacks spend more time attacking than defending anyway. We may see Sophie Ingle slide into the back four, a task she was assigned in Eriksson’s absence. With a massive Champions League matchup against Wolfsburg a week away, Chelsea will need to fill Mjelde’s boots in a hurry.
At the other end of the pitch, Bethany England missed Sunday’s match with a concussion and is unlikely to feature. Back-flippin’ Sam Kerr will likely lead the line, joined by her partner in goals, Fran Kirby. Pernille Harder is fresh after being unused against Bristol City and will be expected to start. Jessie Fleming handled herself well in the Continental Cup final, providing constant pressing and quick passing from midfield. If Sophie Ingle is asked to play more time in defense, Fleming has shown she can be counted on in midfield. Ji So-yun was rested in the cup final and is likely to be part of the starting XI here.
This could be a very tricky matchup. Everton made Chelsea look very average in our FA Cup meeting, something that’s next to impossible to do. Chelsea looked much better in the second meeting, but with one eye on next week’s match against Wolfsburg, we will need to be vigilant to avoid any letdown.
Previously: Chelsea got revenge for our FA Cup loss by beating Everton 4-0 back in November. Bethany England scored two goals in three minutes to pull away in the second half.