After a most dramatic ten days that culminated in beyond heart-stopping drama on Thursday, as Chelsea scored with the final kick of extra-time and then eliminated defending Women’s Champions League champions Lyon via a penalty shootout, Emma Hayes’s mentality monsters are back in more mundane league action, away to Aston Villa.
Except it’s not quite as mundane as it should be thanks to the 2-0 defeat last weekend to Manchester City, which restarted a title race that had looked quite set and done. Chelsea enter this game all the way down to fourth, four-points behind the leaders Manchester United, albeit with two games in-hand.
We still control our own destiny, but with just seven games left — and only one against any of the other top three — we probably need to win out. That quest starts now, against an in-form Villa side, who have won six in a row and are unbeaten in eight in all competitions. In fact, they have lost just three times (in 17 games) since losing to Chelsea, 3-1 in late October.
“I don’t think it’s difficult to get people refocused, for me it’s about getting refreshed. There just isn’t a lot of time and back-to-back games makes winning a league for teams that are in the Champions League so much more challenging. The number of games we’ve played in this block compared to Aston Villa means they get the luxury of a full week’s training.
“We must use the confidence from the way we clawed the Champions League game back as a massive motivation. It’s a quick turnaround but we are used to it. We know we are going to be extremely thin and that every player has to step up in a monumental way [and] keep pushing us at a high level.”
-Emma Hayes; source: Chelsea FC
It’s time to forget about Thursday and focus on today. COME ON, CHELSEA!
Aston Villa starting XI:
Hampton, Lehmann, Daly, Dali, Staniforth, Turner (c), Patten, Blindkilde, Hanson, Pacheco, Nobbs
Substitutes from: Leat, Boye-Hlorkah, Gregory, Keitley, Rabjohn, Littlejohn, Shaw
Chelsea starting XI:
Musovic, Ingle, Carter, Reiten, Eriksson (c), Fleming, Kaneryd, Kerr, Charles, Buchanan, Cankovic
Substitutes from: Berger, James, Perisset, Mjelde, Cuthbert, Abdullina
Date / Time: Sunday, April 2, 2023, 18.45 BST; 1:45pm EDT; 11:15pm IST
Venue: Bescot Stadium, Walsall, UK
Referee: Louise Saunders
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none (India); SuperSport Football Plus (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); DStv Now (NGA); The FA Player (USA; everywhere else without local rights/broadcast)
Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!