Now that the calendar reads March, the serious business portion of Chelsea’s schedule is about to begin. The month includes league matches against Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as Champions League ties with last year’s champions, Lyon. But first! The month starts with a League Cup final versus our league and London rivals Arsenal.
Unfortunately and annoyingly, this will be our second straight match versus Arsenal. Last week, Chelsea knocked them out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win. The Gunners are struggling to score and certainly seem to have a mental block when it comes to facing Chelsea; beating the Blues in a cup final would be a major boost.
Emma Hayes and Chelsea need to make the necessary tweaks to dominate what will surely be a tougher match. If Chelsea win, they’ll lift the League Cup trophy for the third time in four seasons.
Date / Time: Sunday, March 5, 2023, 15.00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Selhurst Park, London, UK
Referee: Kirsty Dowle
Forecast: 42°F/5°C; Mostly cloudy
On TV: BBC Sport
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK); The FA Player (everywhere else)
3 things to watch
Don’t expect to see Fran Kirby — Prior to the international break, Fran Kirby went down with a knee injury in the middle of a 7-0 stomping of West Ham. The injury forced Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman to call up Jordan Nobbs instead for the Arnold Clark Cup. We had hoped the international break would allow Kirby to receive treatment and recover, but Hayes has recently reported that her star will be out — maybe indefinitely. Chelsea’s squad is deep, but the team rarely hit peak revs without Kirby on the pitch.
Lauren James is in God Mode — James has started every game versus Arsenal in 2023 and the Gunners defense still has no idea what to do with her. They’re not alone; her performances have skyrocketed her toward superstardom and earned her plenty of time with the Lionesses, where she continues to excel. James gives Hayes an advantage over opposing coaches. Letting her face up 1v1 throughout a match is a good way to get your defenders embarrassed and, with James improving her final product, concede goals. Doubling up on James leaves space for Chelsea’s other devastating talents.
Sam Kerr loves playing Arsenal — As any Chelsea striker should, Sam Kerr delights in scoring against Arsenal. She scores against everybody, but she has a knack for coming up with goals to break Arsenal hearts. Kerr’s very first goal for Chelsea was against Arsenal, and so far in 2023, Chelsea have played Arsenal twice and scored three goals, with two from Kerr. Derbies are always tense affairs, the team with a superstar striker who relishes breaking your rivals’ hearts has an instant edge.