It feels somewhat rude that Chelsea have to quickly come down from the high of the dramatic 4-2 win versus Manchester United that secured our third consecutive league title, but life, fast, etc. Luckily, the next opponents are Manchester City, the club who got in the way of this being a chance at yet another domestic treble.
City defeated Chelsea 3-1 in the League Cup final in early March. Chelsea rarely need an invitation to pull out our best, but as seen versus United, when pressed, we respond, and emphatically. City’s victory is a sore one, as the (correct shade of) Blues were in a bit of an injury crisis and fielded a rare 4-4-2 to try to cope with City’s wide players.
The (correct shade of) Blues scored first, but City counterpunched in the second half with three unanswered. This time around, Chelsea are in much better shape injury-wise, but also tactically. Over the past month or so, Emma Hayes has fielded successful and periodically dominant forms of 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations, plus two four-back variations.
One half of Manchester have already seen what a determined Chelsea and in-form Sam Kerr are capable of, let’s show the other half shall we?
Date / Time: Sunday, May 15, 2022, 14.30 BST; 9:30am EDT; 7:00pm IST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Referee: Kirsty Dowle
Forecast: Lightly cloudy; 21°C/70°F
Chelsea team news: If you haven’t already heard, I am about to make your day scientifically 9014.8% better. Speaking with media ahead of the final, head coach Emma Hayes said Fran Kirby will be available for selection.
[insert custom celebration break here]
I know, I feel the same way too. Of course, don’t get too excited about Kirby starting and having an impact; we surely do not want to push her too far too fast. However, Hayes has also stated that Kirby seems to be doing that thing she does where she returns from a lengthy absence and is somehow immediately in the form of her life.
“She looked like she hadn’t even been away, she looked that good in training. It was nice to see a smile on her face and she’s participated in everything. She’s been in training all week so I’m over the moon to be honest.”
-Emma Hayes; source: ChelseaFC
One a sad note, this will be the final Chelsea match for Jonna Andersson, Drew Spence and Ji So-yun. The latter stepped on the pitch after halftime against United and was instrumental in setting up Guro Reiten’s go-ahead goal, and will surely have similar chances against City, as I can’t imagine Emma attempts a final XI without her.
Manchester City team news: Perhaps as equally important to Manchester City has been the return of Chloe Kelly. The winger has taken part in City’s previous five matches across all competitions, with three starts and one full 90 played. In that time Kelly has one goal and three assists, which is shades of her outrageous first season with City in 2020-21 in which she posted double digits in goals and assists.
Luckily for us, even though Bunny Shaw’s league per90 goals (1.02/.30) and expected goals (.77/.41) numbers are twice that of Ellen White’s (in 426 fewer minutes), Gareth Taylor still doesn’t know who his best striker is. Though Shaw has started their last three and scored five across them, don’t be surprised to see him call on Ellen White to start the final.
Previously: Continental (League) Cup Final; 1-3