With last week’s Chelsea veruss Arsenal match ending in a 1-1 stalemate, the title challenge remains as you were. This means that any slip against other opposition is what the other will be waiting for. Arsenal, then, will be paying close attention to Chelsea’s second meeting with Liverpool, since the first was a shock season-opening win by the Reds.
However, since that match, Liverpool have reverted to standard expectations of a newly promoted side. They sit ninth, have only won one other match, lost six and drawn two. Last weekend they were pummeled by Manchester United, whose six goals on the day helped them overtake Chelsea in the goal differential column, by one.
Chelsea will no doubt be looking for revenge, and despite Arsenal’s best hopes, the Blues are not expected to struggle — particularly with the added motivation of having lost to them once already this season.
Date / Time: Sunday, January 22, 12.30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6:00pm IST
Venue: Kingsmeadow, Kingston Upon Thames, UK
Referee: Paul Howard
Forecast: 31°F/-1°C; Mostly cloudy
3 things to watch
1) Emma Hayes’ revenge – Liverpool stunned the champions by winning a three-penalty contest, 2-1 at the start of the season. Emma Hayes was forced to make a last-minute lineup change, swapping Pernille Harder for Sophie Ingle, and readjust her tactical approach on the fly. It didn’t go over particularly well and the Blues labored for the entirety of the match. Hayes and Chelsea have since steadied the ship and have looked as champions should; so this match will be a great chance to remind Liverpool why we’re in the hunt for our fourth consecutive league title.
2) Liverpool ‘s bevy of fresh faces — Though Liverpool sit ninth, they’ve been able to put a buffer between them and the relegation fight. In the WSL only one team get relegated, and Leicester look the likeliest even though they picked up their first three points of the season last weekend. To ensure survival, Liverpool have been on a signing spree this winter window. They’ve brought over midfielders Miri Taylor (Angel City FC) and Fuka Nagano (North Carolina Courage) from the NWSL, as well as 20-year-old midfield starlet Sofie Lundgaard.
3) Key players returning for both sides — Pernille Harder’s hamstring injury will keep her out for a few more weeks, but Fran Kirby was fit for a substitute appearance against Arsenal, and should be ready from the start now. Katie Stengel, Liverpool striker and emotional leader, missed the thumping by Manchester United with an injury but has trained this week without complication. Both players are vital to the way their teams play. Last week versus Arsenal, a lot of good work from Lauren James was wasted without Kirby to connect play. And on the other side, Stengel lifts the intensity for Liverpool, and she scored both penalties against Chelsea in the opener.