Our first match without Sam Kerr didn’t go as smoothly as we might have wished, but Chelsea still managed to find the solutions necessary midweek to advance past West Ham in the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory in extra-time.
There won’t be that many additional minutes to get a win tomorrow at Stamford Bridge, so we’re going to have to do a bit better against one of the toughest teams in the WSL.
Date / Time: Sunday, January 21, 2024, 12.30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6:00pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6, UK
Referee: Abi Byrne
Forecast: Light cloud and a moderate breeze
On TV: BBC Two (UK); none (US); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK); Paramount+ (US)
Chelsea team news: Emma Hayes chose to start Lauren James as centre forward against West Ham and while she still posed a major threat, she was not nearly as effective as she could have been in her natural attacking midfield role. When Mia Fishel, an actual No.9 got to the pitch, she scored the game-tying goal that got us to extra time.
There’s no guarantee Fishel will therefore start in this one; however she’s the most experienced striker in the squad right now. Neither Maika Hamano, nor Aggie Beever-Jones have as many matches under their belts as Big Fish.
As far as other injuries go. Aniek Nouwen is also out long-term alongside Kerr, Captain Millie Bright is only expected to return after the next international break in January, and we haven’t had many updates on Kateřina Svitková since her knee surgery back in February. In the meantime Catarina Macario is working on getting back to fitness, but we have no definitive idea when she might be ready for some actual minutes.
Manchester United team news: Unlike Chelsea, Manchester United had little trouble in brushing aside their FA Cup opponents, Newcastle United last weekend: Nikita Parris led the attacking line with two goals in their 5-0 win.
In the league, United sit in fourth place, level on points with Liverpool with 18, from 10 played. Liverpool beat United in their final game before the winter break, 2-1.
We can complain a lot when it comes to injuries, but United might be in a bigger hole in this regard. While midfielder Lisa Naalsund is expected to return this weekend, they will still be without defenders Gabby George, Aoife Mannion and Evie Rabjohn, midfielder Emma Watson, and forward Hinata Miyazawa.
Previously: This is our first meeting since last year’s FA Cup final, which Chelsea won (for the the third straight year) thanks to a goal from, of course, Sam Kerr. Chelsea have won seven in a row against United in all competitions, and have never lost against them (ed.note: Manchester United WFC were established only in 2018).