The Christmas break is upon us and Chelsea Ladies reach the halfway point of their season in fantastic shape. Unbeaten in domestic competition, Chelsea find themselves in 2nd place in WSL 1 with four wins out of five. The Blues also are through the semi-finals of the Continental Tyres Cup, comfortably topping their group and navigating their way through the quarter-finals into the semis. The team has also managed to go further than they have ever been in the Champions League. The second half of the season promises to be something special.
Chelsea Ladies began the season in new surroundings having finally moved to their newly owned stadium at Kingsmeadow in Kingston in the south of London and they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. They beat Bristol City 6-0 with five different goal scorers. They then went on to win their next league fixture away at Sunderland Ladies by the same dominant scoreline, again with five different scorers. The third fixture saw a change, but only in the scoreline, Chelsea squeezed past Liverpool Ladies 1-0 but could and should have scored more. Normal service was resumed in the next matchday as Chelsea won 6-0 for the third time in four games against Yeovil Ladies. The only blemish on Chelsea’s league record came in their fifth league game; Chelsea could only come away from a match with Reading Women with one point and their first concession of goals in the league after a last-gasp equaliser from Reading via a Magdalena Eriksson own goal. That draw meant Chelsea were displaced from top spot by Manchester City who have a 100% record. The showdown between the top two would have happened before Christmas, unfortunately the match was postponed due to poor weather conditions. Chelsea have began their league campaign in scintillating form and are only denied being first by City’s continued brilliance, the title will definitely come down to who comes out on top in the matches between the clubs.
Continental Tyres Cup
Chelsea were drawn into a group that contained Brighton & Hove Albion Women, Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, Bristol City Women and Yeovil Town; the latter two being teams Chelsea had already beaten in the league. Chelsea advanced from the group in a convincing fashion as they finished top of the group. They won all four of their fixtures scoring 17 goals and conceding 2. Their most eye-catching win being the 8-0 demolition of Yeovil Town where Drew Spence and Erin Cuthbert both grabbed a couple of goals. The quarter-finals of the cup pitted Chelsea against another familiar foe in Liverpool Ladies. On this occasion, Chelsea found it a lot easier to bypass Liverpool’s backline and won the match 5-1. The semi-final will take place after Christmas and Chelsea have been drawn at home against Manchester City who will have the chance to stop Chelsea winning two domestic trophies this year.
The Blues have gone further in the Champions League as they have ever been in their history after making it through to the quarter-finals stage. Emma Hayes will be looking to go even deeper in the tournament and possibly even win it based on the team’s form so far this season. In the round of 32, Chelsea were handed a tough test in being put against Bayern Munich, a team they had failed to beat before. The first leg in London was a tight affair but Chelsea managed to come out on top with Drew Spence getting the only goal. The second leg in Munich was an even more tense affair with Chelsea in fact losing the battle 2-1 but winning the war as a result of Fran Kirby’s away goal. The round of 16 proved to be a lot more of a comfort for Chelsea. They were drawn against Swedish club Rosengard and professionally took the tie away from them by beating them 3-0 in Kingston. The second leg was a non event as Chelsea strolled to a 1-0 victory. The Champions League returns in March where Chelsea will play Montpellier, the second leg being at Kingsmeadow could well be a decisive factor.
Goal of the Season So Far
Fran Kirby’s away goal in Munich had already proved to be absolutely vital as it was the goal that allowed the team to qualify for the next round. Lost in all the emotion of it was how beautiful the goal was; after being set free one on one with Bayern’s keeper, Kirby’s first touch had actually taken her away from the goal but in devastating fashion, she arched a clinical finish into the top corner.
Game of the Season So Far
The opening game of the season at a new stadium will always be special for a home team especially if they win, but to win 6-0 and instantly feel comfortable at Kingsmeadow was a pleasant surprise. That win has formed the foundation of Chelsea’s strong home record in which so far they have won 8 on the bounce.
Player of the Season So Far
Fran Kirby’s 12 goals in all competitions at this point have been vital in Chelsea’s dominance. Kirby’s clever runs in behind the defence and the unerring accuracy of her finishes mean she is always a threat. This looks like it will be her best goalscoring season to date.