For the third time in the last eleven matches, Chelsea will face off against wannabe London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Though Chelsea have scored three in each previous matchup and conceded just one across both, Spurs enjoyed a relatively bright first twenty minutes in their last meeting.
However, this is typically how these contests go. Spurs are desperate to prove something and fly about the pitch for the first bit of the match, then Chelsea settle and take over.
Of course, the more any competition is faced, the more chances they have to dissect tendencies and weaknesses exploited. If Spurs can find a way to extend, or capitalize, on their infrequent periods of domination, things could get worrisome for Chelsea. Last match, though Chelsea are acutely familiar with Bethany England’s game, she created multiple dangerous situations with wide runs into the channels.
Chelsea must continue collecting three points if they want a chance at collecting their fourth consecutive league title. Manchester United (who will be facing off with Everton at the same time) currently sit top on goal difference thanks to last month’s 6-0 hammering of Liverpool. Arsenal are three points from a game in hand away from matching United and Chelsea’s points total, and three goals away from the Blues in the differential column.
While facing Spurs again in such a short time isn’t ideal, three points are necessary, and a piling up of goals could get the Blues back to the top of the table before dinner.
Date / Time: Sunday, February 5, 12.30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6:00pm IST
Venue: Brisbane Road, London, UK
Referee: Abigail Byrne
Forecast: 46°F/8°C; Mostly cloudy
On TV: BBC Two (UK); elsewhere
Streaming: Paramount+ (US); BBC iPlayer (UK) elsewhere
3 things to watch
Position battles — Suddenly, there are quite a few position battles in the Chelsea XI to keep an eye on. At right back, Niamh Charles and summer signing Ève Périsset have been juggled by Hayes. Goalkeeper Zećira Mušović has seemed the recent preferred starter to Ann-Katrin Berger, and Jess Carter has been deputizing at left back, dropping captain Magdalena Eriksson to the bench. Back in WSL action and against an upstart rival, Hayes’ XI should give us a hint as to who’s won pole position in these battles.
Kerrby BACK — After terrorizing the WSL throughout the 2020/21 season and into the 20221/22, the Fran Kirby/Sam Kerr partnership (ingeniously dubbed Kerrby) hadn’t connected for a goal in over a year. That changed last match as Fran Kirby assisted Sam Kerr for the second goal of the latter’s hat-trick performance. Their connection was telepathic, unreal and supremely devastating, and if they’re clicking again history teaches us that the goals will come in bunches.
Is it Jelena Čanković time? — After Čanković’s outrageous forty yard assist to Sam Kerr to level the mid-January tie with Arsenal in the 89th minute, Hayes attempted to reward her with a start in the very next match. However, due to a dangerous and frozen pitch, that start only lasted six minutes. Hayes kept Čanković in the XI for the next match, which was a 3-1 win over Spurs. The following match, Fran Kirby functioned as the #10 and Čanković was an unused sub. Čanković is an exciting prospect whose dribbling, vision and passing range offers a unique wrinkle Chelsea haven’t had since Ji So-yun in 2019/20.