Chelsea Ladies return to action after almost a month of rest, as they take on their most daunting domestic opposition thus far this season in the Women’s Super League.
Date / Time: Sunday, January 7, 2018, 13:30 GMT; 8:30am EST; 7pm IST
Venue: Kingsmeadow Stadium, Kingston-upon-Thames, England
Forecast: Cold, humid, and relatively windy.
On TV/Streaming online: BT Sport (Live broadcast)
Arsenal team news: The Gunners have accumulated ten points thus far this season, which is good enough for fourth place (ed.note: hah!), just three behind Chelsea, and two below Liverpool, who have played already this weekend. Arsenal aren’t the dominant force in women’s football that they once were, failing to keep up with increasingly improved competition much like the men’s team.
This is not to say that they are without exceptionally talented young players. Dutch striker Viviene Miedema joined from Bayern Munich in the summer, and despite being just 21, has two goals in four appearances. Arsenal’s top scorer and the player to watch will be 23 year-old Beth Mead, who has five in ten matches.
Perhaps most notable is the fact that this will be the second match in charge for Arsenal’s new manager, Joe Montemurro. His first was a 3-1 victory over Sunderland shortly after he left his post at Manchester City affiliate Melbourne City, where he fulfilled roles for both the men’s and the women’s teams. Two years prior, he led the women’s team to a perfect season in Australia’s W-League. As Chelsea’s captain Katie Chapman noted, the introduction of Montemurro on the touchline “could lead to a different style of football” played by Arsenal. We shall have to see.
Chelsea team news: Emma Hayes called this a big test in her interview with the club’s website, and noted that she considers Arsenal one of “probably three teams in the league playing at the same level.”
Chelsea have been just about unstoppable this year, dropping points only in a draw against a tough Reading side. Despite having arguably the most talented squad in England, the club have still gone out and acquired two new players in the last month. Anita Asante joins back up with the Blues after spells in the US and Sweden, and will compete for a place in the midfield two. Jonna Andersson joins up from Sweden as well, and will be plying her trade along the left flank. It remains to be seen whether either of these players will step into the squad anytime soon.
“I’m really looking forward to this test. I feel confident. Of course I respect Arsenal and they’ve got a lot of good players but, as I keep reminding everyone, so do we. We’re one of the top teams in Europe and we’ve got to show it again in a game that really matters.”
-Emma Hayes; source: Chelsea FC
Previously: Chelsea and Arsenal last met in the Spring Series last May, with the Gunners stealing a point with an equalizer in stoppage time. Time for a little just deserts.