Chelsea’s penultimate match of the calendar year, and the last WSL match before the month-long winter break, sees us travel to Bristol to take on league newcomers Bristol City, who currently sit second from bottom, one point above West Ham.
We could certainly use a nice win in this one, after the shock 4-1 defeat last weekend at Arsenal, and the disappointing 0-0 draw against BK Häcken midweek. Arsenal have thrown away that advantage by losing to Spurs yesterday, which means that we can head into the second half of the season three-points clear of the Gunners, and the rest of the chasing pack, in what’s threatening to become quite a title race.
Date / Time: Sunday, December 17, 2023, 14.00 GMT; 9am EST
Venue: Ashton Gate, Bristol, England
Referee: Amy Fearn
Forecast: breezy and cool
On TV: Optus Sport (Australia); none (everywhere else)
Streaming: The FA Player (everywhere except Australia)
Bristol City team news: The Robins earned promotion back to the WSL by winning the second division last season, but have found it rather tough going in the top flight, with just one win and five points total thus far. However, all five have been picked up in their last five matches, after starting the season with four straight defeats, so perhaps things are improving slowly.
They do lead the league in goals conceded and have one of the worst attacks, though summer signing Amalie Thestrup does have five league goals to her name, which is more than any player not named Lauren James has for Chelsea.
Chelsea team news: Thursday’s 0-0 draw was the first scoreless match in 22 months for the Blues, with Emma Hayes putting that down to poor execution and a lack of conviction in the final third — which we’re unlikely to repeat, if she has any say in that.
The return from injury of Guro Reiten in that match was a welcome sight; but we’re still waiting on the likes of Millie Bright, Jelena Čanković, Catarina Macario and Kateřina Svitková. In better news, Melanie Leupolz and Ashley Lawrence are expected to be available for selection once again, while youngster Maika Hamano, having completed her loan at Swedish champions Hammarby, could make her debut. (Hammarby won the 2023 title over familiar foes BK Häcken on goal difference, by 1!)
Aggie Beever-Jones, who did not feature against either Arsenal last weekend, has a five-match scoring streak going in the WSL.
Previously: We last faced Bristol City in the final of 2021 Conti Cup, with Chelsea winning easily, 6-0, which was just about par for the course. In fact, our last six wins against them have been by an aggregate score of 36 to 1.