UDPATE: The lineups are out. Here we go.
Chelsea starting lineup (3-4-3):
Spencer | Eriksson, Flaherty, Bright | Davison, Chapman (c), Mjelde, Dunn | Cuthbert, Carney, Ji
COME ON, CHELSEA!
League leaders Chelsea LFC’s busy schedule over the FIFA-mandated international break for the men’s leagues continues with a home tie against strong domestic opposition in Liverpool on Matchday 3 of the Women’s Super League 1.
Chelsea may have won the last two meetings between the two sides by a combined 13-3 scoreline, and Chelsea may have won the first two games of the league season by a combined 12-0 scoreline, but that doesn’t mean the Reds should be taken lightly.
Date / Time: Saturday, October 7 at 12:30 BST (7:30am EST)
Venue: Kingsmeadow Stadium, Kingston upon Thames, England
Forecast: A decent chance of some light rain around kick-off, with a nippy 58°F/14°C accompanying wind speeds of 7 m/s ENE and humidity hovering around 78% throughout the afternoon.
On TV / Streaming: As the marquee match of the week, this one will be broadcast BT Sport 1 and streamed live on BT Sport Live.
Notable Team News: After a great opening weekend against Everton, Liverpool sank to a disappointing 3-0 home loss to Reading. The Reds have several former Chelsea players among their ranks*, and also one current loanee in Beth England who is thus ineligble to face her parent club. All others should be available for the Reds.
As for Chelsea, Deanna Cooper and Jade Bailey continue their road to recovery and will not be included in the matchday squad, but all others are cleared to play.
*Not unlike the men’s side: Sturridge, Salah, and Solanke. If your surname starts with an S, is it in your contract that you have to leave for Liverpool?
Expected Lineup and Prediction: With six points and a plus-twelve goal differential atop the table, Chelsea are unlikely to change much about their approach going into this one. However, given that the Blues are coming off of a difficult match against Bayern on Wednesday and have the away leg to look forward to this coming Wednesday, Emma Hayes will likely rotate back to the more aggressive attacking side she picked for the match against Sunderland last weekend. Liverpool are no shrinking violets, but Chelsea have proven they have what it takes to beat them with finesse rather than power, and Hayes will need her physical battlers for the midweek European matchup.
As such, I expect to see Ramona Bachmann, Drew Spence, and Maria Thorisdottir drop to the bench, despite their excellent performances against the German team. My guess is that we see returns for Karen Carney, Gemma Davison, and Ji So-Yun in those attacking roles. It’s also possible that Katie Chapman or Maren Mjelde get a rest, so if Erin Cuthbert does not find her way into the starting lineup, expect her to be an early substitute for one of that midfield duo, especially if things are going according to plan. Though this will likely be a much more spirited contest than the Spring Series meeting, when Chelsea ran out 7-0 winners, I expect Chelsea to leave the pitch with three points and plenty in the tank for Bayern.
Predicted Scoreline: 4-1