After an international break that saw Emma Hayes sign a new three-year deal, the Blues showed just how well-deserved and well-placed that trust is with another slew of goals, this time against Yeovil Town, as Chelsea dismantled their opposition with persistent pressure and attacking precision. With three 6-0 victories in their first four league games, Chelsea have demonstrated the massive gap between the top of the table and everyone else.
The starting lineup saw several changes from the last eleven that Hayes used before the break. Carly Telford deputized for Hedvig Lindahl in goal, and kept the club’s domestic clean sheet streak intact. Crystal Dunn took up a spot on the wing, and her pace and free movement were devastating for Yeovil Town. Erin Cuthbert also grabbed a start, complementing the considerable attacking talents of Eni Aluko, Karen Carney, and Ji So-Yun.
From the moment the first whistle rang out, it was clear that the Blues had come to play. Cuthbert directed a close-range header wide within the first two minutes, and Yeovil Town never really got off their heels for the rest of the match. A free kick won by Aluko led to a long range attempt from Carney, who didn’t do enough to really get the opposing keeper, Megan Walsh, sweating, but the night was young. Within the next few minutes, both Carney and Aluko had fired in a couple more shots against the proverbial parked bus of Yeovil.
The visitors’ resistance was undone in the 8th minute however, when fancy footwork along the goal line and a precise cross from Cuthbert found Dunn for her first goal of the season. Dunn, Aluko, and Cuthbert each had opportunities in the next ten minutes to double the lead, but every chance went begging, Aluko’s the most grievous. For the briefest of instants, it seemed like the game would go a bit stale, but the second breakthrough came, once again from the brilliant feet of Cuthbert, who sliced through the defense and released Aluko, who made no mistake this time and found the back of the net with a powerful finish.
A two-goal lead became three in the blink of an eye. Crystal Dunn was back in the middle of things again, this time using space on the wing to gather her first assist. An excellent ball propelled with pace and precision was met by the head of Karen Carney, who had weaved through the traffic in the box to find herself the perfect position for an easy finish. The game wasn’t over, but the contest was.
Just as quickly as two had turned into three, the three turned into four with some spectacular team play. Hannah Blundell drove inside from her position at right wing-back and found Aluko, who turned the ball around the corner for Cuthbert, who was in acres of space on the right and behind the back line by the time she got onto the ball. A deft cut back from Cuthbert exposed the Yeovil defense and led to a great opening for Ji, but the keeper was there. However, Walsh was only able to parry the ball into the path of an onrushing Dunn, who smashed it home for her second.
The Blues let off the gas a little bit, just as Yeovil became just desperate enough to be dangerous, and Telford was called into action to stop the opposition’s first shot on target. The game got a bit too open for about ten minutes, but nothing was really generated by the visitors, and Chelsea were able to get control again before the half’s end. A hailstorm poured down on the Yeovil Town goal, as Carney, Cuthbert, and especially Aluko looked to add to the Blues tally. When the half time whistle came, the Blues could be remarkably disappointed to only be 4-0 up.
Perhaps Hayes’ team talk at the break included some semblance of that sentiment, because the Ladies came out of the dressing room raring for more in the second. The Blues managed six more attempts before the clock had struck seven minutes into the half, although the game began to get a bit more choppy and open. Chelsea still had moments of pinning them back, but the visitors were sticking to the task of defending quite well, so it took a belter from Karen Carney to add to the scoreline. Her sweetly-struck shot from about thirty yards careened into the right side netting, giving Walsh more material for her nightmares.
They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but at 5-0 up, Hayes was probably thinking about conserving energy for her regular starters when she brought on her first subs in the 65th and 66th minutes. The sublime Blundell gave way to Gemma Davison, and Claire Rafferty saw her first minutes of the season, coming on to give Magdalena Eriksson a rest.
Again, the Ladies turned their dominance into results, and again, Carney and Aluko were involved. Carney’s curling free kick found the striker, who had made a good run to the near post. The finish was tidy, a neat volley into the top corner; the perfect placement gave Walsh no chance.
I’m sure the Blues felt confident of finishing out the final twenty minutes with all three points, but they really didn’t let off much. In fact, Emma Hayes brought on Ramona Bachmann for Katie Chapman in an extremely attacking substitution, and the side had another eight attempted shots as the clock wound down. It was an absolutely commanding performance from a clearly superior side.
The floodgates have been opened this season, and Chelsea look to be the most dominant force in women’s football on the English mainland. The Ladies will be looking forward to traveling to Brighton & Hove Albion, where another deluge of goals could be on the menu.
Chelsea Ladies Line-up:
- 28 - Telford
- 16 - Eriksson (Rafferty, 65’)
- 4 - Bright (Booked at 68mins)
- 5 - Flaherty
- 17 - Chapman (Bachmann, 76’)
- 19 - Dunn
- 22 - Cuthbert
- 3 - Blundell (Davison, 66’)
- 8 - Carney
- 9 - Aluko
- 10 - Ji
For those wondering, this took the form of something like a 3-1-4-2, with Chapman shielding the back three, Dunn and Blundell providing width, and Carney and Ji fluidly supporting the striking duo of Cuthbert and Aluko. It was utter chaos, and a treat to watch.