After a two-week break, Chelsea Ladies are back with three games in eight days, including two FA WSL Cup group games and a massive showdown next Sunday against Manchester City.
First up, WSL 2 champions Yeovil Town in the FA WSL Cup.
Date/Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 18:00 GMT (1pm EST)
Venue: Kingsmeadow, Kingston-upon-Thames, England
Forecast: Partly cloudy, cold, 6°C (43°F), Wind speed: 2 m/s E, Humidity: 86%. There will be a slight (roughly 20%) chance of rain in the morning before kickoff.
Team News and Expected lineup: Chelsea scored six unanswered goals back at the end of October against Yeovil Town and the fact that today’s match is part of a cup competition instead of a league seems rather unlikely to change the outcome much. Perhaps Yeovil will be more intent on defending, but the odds that they will be able to keep a clean sheet against the Blues, who have not been shut out once in their eleven matches so far this season, seem very low.
Meanwhile, Yeovil are facing a crucial moment in their history. Whether or not they are able to continue in the top division (WSL 1) will not come down only to their ability on the pitch, but also to their ability to raise funding. To that end, they have a crowd-sourcing campaign going; if you’d like to check that out, and maybe even contribute.
Both squads have players returning from time away during the international break, which can make for a few hiccups as the teams get resettled. Chelsea’s Fran Kirby and Millie Bright earned starts for England against Bosnia, with the former coming on to inspire the late hammering of Kazakhstan in the second match as well. The national team remains perfect in World Cup qualifying thus far.
As for injuries, only long-term absentees remain out, which includes Jade Bailey and Deanna Cooper for the Blues. I expect Emma Hayes to put out an extremely attacking side, favoring Crystal Dunn and Gemma Davison for the wings. With Kirby and Ramona Bachmann having played significant roles for their national teams, it may mean a start for Erin Cuthbert, especially as Chelsea have a more difficult cup tie against Tottenham on Wednesday, for which both Bachmann and Kirby should be called upon.
Finally, given that Katie Chapman has looked a bit out of sorts lately, I’m hoping Hayes experiments with the other options available to her in midfield, perhaps going with a 3-5-2 that has Eni Aluko supporting Cuthbert. This could mean Drew Spence comes in to play a more central role, but with the creative potential available in Karen Carney and Ji So-Yun and the consistently stellar play of Maren Mjelde, it may be hard for Spence to find a spot for herself.
Prediction: Yeovil have taken zero points from their five league matches this season, and only a slow start from Chelsea could give this the appearance of a contest for any length of time. Blues to rout Yeovil Town Ladies 5-0.