This is not an error, there is a Chelsea v Manchester City game this weekend, just not in the EPL. Then Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League’s match of the weekend is Chelsea v Manchester City. Over the past couple of years, these two sides have been the powerhouses of English women’s football. Chelsea and Manchester City have won the 3 of the last four league titles. Manchester City has either won the league or been the runner up in the previous four seasons. Chelsea’s only time finishing outside the top 2 the past four years was their third-place finish last season. Whenever two powerhouses of women’s football are on display, I would always suggest trying to catch the game. With the FA Player App, I can watch it for free, so that’s what I am watching Sunday morning (I swear I’m not sponsored, just some random in the US. Seriously, why would I be sponsored) and I would suggest the rest of you tune in.
Chelsea has been the cream of the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League this season. They are the only undefeated team left in the division. While they have played one less game than City and Arsenal (frozen pitch last weekend against Everton), they still sit 3rd in the table. The start of the season has been accomplished without Fran Kirby being 100 percent fit, someone who has been a critical cog for this team over the past three years. Incoming in January is Sam Kerr to reinforce the attack. They have found their legs defensively, and the last real challenge they had in the league was the match against Arsenal. They did look stretched at times, making this the next challenge to their title credentials.
Last time out Chelsea defeated Birmingham City 6-0. The goals were shared around with 4 different scorers. Leading scorer from last season Beth England contributed 2, with Drew Spence chipping in 2 and individuals from Millie Bright and Ji So-Yun. This should continue to grow their confidence in their own ability to find goals when they are needed from multiple fronts. It also gives the oppositions more to worry about when defending.
Last time against Birmingham, Chelsea came out in a 4-3-3. In this formation, it gives Cuthbert, Reiten, and Bachmann the ability to stay wide and support England through the middle. When England is starting, a 4-3-3 helps as she is a better header of the ball. If England and Kirby are both starting, you would almost prefer a 4-2-3-1 as it would allow for Kirby to as a mixture of a supportive striker and creative outlet in the midfield. Chelsea, when starting both Kirby and England go 4-4-2 to have the secondary striker. England and Kirby have seemed to have an excellent understanding of when to interchange sides and make life confusing for the opposition. The different systems that Chelsea can use also showcase their flexibility to adapt throughout a match. It makes life harder for the opposition to prepare for the match.
This is extremely hard to find, but the biggest miss is the possibility of Kirby being out. She has missed the past couple of matches so could be on the shelf again. Outside of that and waiting for Kerr to be eligable, Chelsea seem to be working with a full squad.
Player to Watch
If Kirby plays, I always say she is one of the most important players on the pitch as she can change a match on her own. If she is not, I think Ji So-Yun is the key player. She controls the midfield for Chelsea and everything can run through her. She has the ability to score and create, which against a stingy Manchester City side is going to be key.
Manchester City boasts the best defensive record in the top flight. They have surrendered one goal throughout the entire league campaign, and it cost them their only loss. They have scored as many as a Chelsea has this season but not with as many spurts. They rebounded from their loss to Arsenal with three consecutive wins. So they should be full of considered walking into Kingsmeadow. Last time out, they squeaked by bottom feeders Liverpool, in a 1-0 win. While they did control possession, they were not clinical with their shots having 4 of 13 be on target. That could cost them in this match against Chelsea.
Against Liverpool, Manchester City debuted a 4-2-2-2 formation. It is an unusual formation to think of conceptually. While the backline is traditional, having the three banks of 2 players makes it feel like multiple layers of balanced attack and defense. It is also something that most people do not come up against in play. Until teams adapt to the new system, it makes sense to keep working with it. They have been playing a 4-4-1-1 most of the season, with the second striker given a bit more freedom to roam. The 4-2-2-2 can convert back into a 4-4-1-1 pretty seamlessly. It can also become a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, which again allows for multiple tactical options throughout the match.
Again, finding it hard to find injury news, so whoops, no team news……
Player to Watch
Elli Roebuck is going to have a busier day than what she is used to behind her backline. I think she is going to need to have a standout performance to keep her team in the match. Yes, Chelsea has as many goals and Manchester City, but they have plaid one less game. They almost put Arsenal to the sword but did not due to fantastic goalkeeping. This might end up in a similar situation.
These two teams typically play close affairs. I expect it to be the same but I think the extra rest gives Chelsea an advantage and am going for a 3-1 victory to continue their undefeated start to the season.
Well I will be up in less than 6 hours to ensure I won’t miss any of this match….why not join.