Surprise! The season is over, except it isn’t!
Due to the way COVID-19 restrictions played out in the UK, the Women’s FA Cup had to be paused as many sides in the lower divisions weren’t allowed to compete. With those restrictions now lifted, the Cup is back on! It will follow the same pattern as last year’s competition and be played to completion during the first months of the 2021-22 season.
Given how Emma Hayes is quite good at pushing all the right buttons — evidenced again by players’ social media posts echoing the sentiment that the loss is only a part of their journey — I expect the manager to have the team well prepared to exorcise some demons and to end the season on a high note. Everton aren’t Barcelona (and that’s a good thing), but they’ll do.
After the way the Women’s Champions League final turned out, we can all be thankful for another opportunity to watch this team play before the offseason, and not have our last kick of an otherwise excellent season be a most painful loss.
Date / Time: Thursday, May 20, 2021, 19.00 BST; 2:00pm EDT; 11:30pm IST
Forecast: Rain, of course
On TV: None
Streaming: BBC Red Button (UK); ESPN+ (US); FA Player (International)
Chelsea team news: Health-wise, we are in pretty good shape. The only injury on any official injury report would be Maren Mjelde (MCL).
Pride-wise however, we are undoubtedly wounded. Though there’s no shame in losing to Barcelona, there is the embarrassment in how it happened, it being a Final with the eyes of the world watching. Much of that world had only been introduced to Chelsea, completely unaware that yes, even on paper, Barcelona were the stronger side. But that’s in the past now...
And it’s not all about taking out frustrations centered around Barcelona. The Blues also have some revenge to get against Everton, specifically in this competition. It were Everton who knocked us out of last year’s competition, in the early days of the 2020-21 season before Chelsea transformed into Champions League-finalists Chelsea.
In order to keep the dream of a three-trophy season alive, a buffet of revenge and catharsis awaits.
Everton team news: On the final day of the WSL season Everton were beaten 2-0 by a tired and grumpy Manchester United, who had thrown away their shot at a top-three finish that would’ve qualified them for the Champions League. After being one of the surprises of the season in its early months, Everton finished fifth, which isn’t a terrible finish if you stop reading there, but it’s a disappointing 15 points behind fourth.
One of the primary reasons for their drop-off was the injury to forward Valérie Gauvin. In fact, it was Gauvin who scored the goal that knocked Chelsea out last year. Gauvin came off the bench in the final match of their season, and with ten days between matches, could be fit enough for the starting lineup.
Previously: Though Everton got the better of Chelsea in that FA Cup match, the Blues haven’t had any trouble with them in the league. In November they were dispatched 4-0 and in the last meeting, in March, Chelsea won 3-0.
A highlight of the latter victory, and a highlight of the season, was this King Cobra-esque attack featuring a perfectly weighted through ball by Sam Kerr from just inside Chelsea’s half.