Chelsea FCW return to Kingsmeadow to take on an Aston Villa WFC side who find themselves fighting for WSL survival. The Villans are part of a four-team group at the bottom of the table separated by only four points. They are just one point ahead of currently relegation-bound West Ham United, and have a match in hand. With the end of the league season coming into view in the distance, the visitors will be desperate for any and any and every point.
Of course, the Blues are also desperate for each and every point as we look to defend our title. Rivals Manchester City nearly gave that a big boost by dropping points against Reading this weekend, but Lauren Hemp’s late goal keeps the pressure on the leaders.
Sandwiched between two titanic matches against Wolfsburg, can Chelsea take care of business?
Date / Time: Sunday, March 28th, 2020, 14.30 BST; 9:30am EDT; 7:00pm IST
Referee: Sarah Garratt
Forecast: Mild, Cloudy
Chelsea FCW team news: Following the huge 2-1 Champions League quarterfinal first leg victory of VfL Wolfsburg, the Blues may look to rotate ahead of the return leg on Wednesday. Still, Manchester City are directly in the rear view mirror and we can’t afford to drop any points.
Bethany England and Maren Mjelde won’t be included, as England continues to recover from a concussion and Mjelde is at the beginning stages of recovering from knee surgery. Niamh Charles has stepped into Mjelde’s role at right back in the previous two matches, and has done so impressively. It would be nice for her to get another match at the position, especially as she’s suspended for the second leg.
Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr’s connection continues to grow and is bordering on telepathy at this point. Their most recent combination proved Kirby has eyes in the back of her head as she found Kerr for Chelsea’s first goal against Wolfsburg — though Emma Hayes could give either or both a break between the Champions League ties. Guro Reiten, Jessie Fleming, and Erin Cuthbert are all fresh options for the starting XI. Ann-Katrin Berger was an absolute brick wall against Wolfsburg and may need to re-charge her superhuman abilities Sunday while Carly Telford capably fills the void.
Aston Villa WFC team news: January’s league match against Chelsea was manager Marcus Bignot’s first match in charge; a fairly rude way to welcome someone to the WSL. With a couple months now under his belt, Bignot has more experience with his team, though good results have been hard to come by. Aston Villa haven’t won a match or scored a goal since they beat Tottenham 1-0 in early February.
The strength of the team, relatively speaking, has been the defense. Recent meetings against Manchester City and Arsenal saw the Villains lose by “only” a combined 7-0. Goalkeeper Lisa Weiß and defenders Anita Asante and Natalie Haigh lead the team in minutes played and have been at the keys to their defense all season.
Goals, however, have been tough to come by. Aston Villa have only scored more than one goal on a single occasion since the beginning of 2021. Mana Iwabuchi arrived in January ahead of the first meeting against Chelsea, and has been the most consistent threat in attack. Ramona Petzelberger leads the team in WSL scoring and captain Marisa Ewers provides veteran experience. They’ll all need to be at their very best against Chelsea to give Aston Villa a fighting chance.
Previously: The Blues came away 4-0 winners back in January to set the all-time unbeaten streak of 32 matches in the WSL.