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Chelsea Women v Arsenal: Friday 11 February – A Season Defining Encounter

by Andrew Crawshaw

After our draw last weekend against Manchester United we remain top of the WSL.  Chelsea are second, two points behind us but with a game in hand.  This game is therefore the epitome of a “six pointer”

Here is the current table

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 13 9 3 1 34 8 26 30
2 Chelsea 12 9 1 2 30 6 24 28
3 Man United 13 7 4 2 28 14 14 25
4 Spurs 13 7 3 3 17 11 6 24
5 Reading 12 7 1 4 17 15 2 22
6 Man City 13 6 2 5 29 20 9 20
7 West Ham 12 5 5 3 18 15 3 20
8 Brighton 14 5 1 8 13 22 -9 16
9 Aston Villa 13 4 1 8 9 28 -19 13
10 Everton 12 3 2 7 10 21 -11 11
11 Leicester 14 3 0 11 9 27 -18 9
12 Birmingham 14 1 1 12 9 36 -27 4

The top three teams at the end of the season qualify for next season’s Champions League (the team in third have to play additional games, first goes into the last 16 and second go into the group stage).  The bottom team is relegated being replaced by the winner of the Championship (currently being led by Liverpool).

Here are the remaining games for both teams this season

Chelsea v Arsenal – Fri 11 Feb
Arsenal v Reading – Wed 2 Mar
Arsenal v Birmingham – Sun 6 Mar West Han v Chelsea – Sun 6 Mar
Brighton v Arsenal – Sun 13 Mar Chelsea v Aston Villa – Sun 13 Mar
Everton v Chelsea – Wed 16 Mar
Chelsea v Spurs – Wed 23 Mar
Arsenal v Spurs – Sun 27 Mar Leicester v Chelsea – Sun 27 Mar
Leicester v Arsenal – Sun 3 Apr Chelsea v Reading – Sun 3 April
Everton v Arsenal – Sun 24 April Spurs v Chelsea – Sun 24 Apr
Arsenal v Aston Villa – Sun 1 May Birmingham v Chelsea – Sun 1 May
West Ham v Arsenal – Sun 8 May Chelsea v Man United Sun 8 May

In normal circumstances, I would expect us to win comfortably against all but Chelsea and Spurs.  The Spurs game will present us with a sterner test but one that we should be able to win.  

Chelsea have been the strongest team in the league for some years and probably still are.  We beat them in the opening game of the season where our early start in the Champions League qualifying rounds stood us in good stead in terms of match fitness (plus a slice of good fortune with one of our goals when Beth Mead looked offside but this wasn’t spotted by the Assistant Referee). 

I would normally regard any points against them as being a good result.  Since that game Chelsea have only conceded a further three goals in the league a clear sign of the miserliness of their defence.  They also completely outplayed us in the final of last year’s FA Cup final winning 3 – 0 at a canter.

The potentially difficult games for Chelsea other than Arsenal are home and away against Spurs.  They will probably win the home game but I would like to think that possibly Spurs will be able to get a point in their home match.

As I said in the title the game this Friday evening is a real six-pointer.  In all probability whichever team wins will go on to win the League.  Even a draw for Arsenal will probably not be enough as we would still rely on Chelsea dropping points somewhere.

All of this supposes that we start to reproduce our early season form as our recent games have been well below that level.  Key players have not been fit and some of the backup players seem not to be at a similar level.  Our passing has been ponderous and predictable with the exception of occasional flashes of brilliance ( Miedema’s pass to Blackstenius for the equaliser against Man City was probably the best assist of the season)

Our Head Coach, Jonas Eidevall, says at the moment his sole focus is on the next game and he is not in the least concerned about who is the favourite for the title.  He added that there’ll be changes in how he wants us to approach the game following the Cup Final defeat.  He says that we will be looking to win the game and not be afraid of losing.

With virtually a full squad available (Katie McCabe is suspended following her sending off against United last week) we undoubtedly have the players to hurt Chelsea if we play to our strengths.

Best available starting eleven (assuming everyone if fully fit)

Manuella Zinsberger

Noëlle Maritz, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, Steph Catley

Leah Walti, Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs

Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Stina Blackstenius

Subs

Lydia Williams (GK), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie, Laura Wienrother, Frida Maanum, Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris, Caitlin Foord, Tobin Heath.

The game is at Chelsea’s Kingsmeadow ground and is fully sold out.  Kickoff is 19:45 and it is being shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.  It will also be on the FA Player outside the UK so you should be able to pick it up worldwide.

Despite Jonas’s reluctance to look ahead a win puts us in prime position to win the league this season, anything else hands the advantage to Chelsea.

COYWG

8 comments to Chelsea Women v Arsenal: Friday 11 February – A Season Defining Encounter

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Official lineup pretty much as I had it with one big exception. Miedema almost certainly starting as an attacking midfielder instead of Nobbs and Blackenius up front flanked by Mead and Foord.

    Zinsberger
    Maritz, Williamson, Rafaelle, Catley
    Wälti, Little
    Miedema
    Mead, Blacksenius, Foord

    Subs
    Williams, Beattie, Boye Sørensen, Weinrother,Nobbs, Maanum, Heath, Parris, Iwabuchi

    COYWG

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Full time at Kingsmeadow and the match ended goalless. I could only catch the last 20 minutes on TV but had managed to listen to most of the rest in the car. I’m sure all the pundits will be castigating the referee for not calling a penalty against Williamson in the dying stages of the 8 minutes of extra time. They will overlook the three occasions that Foord should have been awarded penalties earlier in the game which the radio commentators said should have been awarded..

    The title will now be won by whichever of today’s teams loses fewest points in the remaining 9 or 10 matches of the season remembering Chelsea have one game in hand.

  • Mikey

    BBC headline: “Chelsea held by leaders Arsenal”.

    At what point did the “leaders” become the weakest team? Surely the “leaders” were “held” by the lower placed team? Or perhaps the lowest placed team “managed to take a point of the leaders”?

    But no, not for the BBC, apparently the leaders were fortunate not to drop all three points to a team below them in the league! Not like the BBC have an agenda…..

  • Andy Hinchcliffe was the co-commentator for this game. The relentlessness of his anti-Arsenal diktats brought to mind the inane rantings of Clive Tyldesley during the Arsenal-Celtic Champions League match.

    I was quite disappointed by the result given the dominant Arsenal performance in the first half, but all is not yet lost. Chelsea have failed to score in 3 of their last 5 WSL matches.

    BTW, that Miedema pass in the Man. Utd match was a work of art.

  • Mikey

    I just watched the BBC’s post match interview with Arteta on Thursday. One particular question particularly baffled Mikel and whilst perfectly demonstrating the competence of BBC football presenters.

    “Well the games come thick and fast now,” said the presenter, “with Chelsea in just two days time.”

    Arteta clearly didn’t have a clue what was going on…..but then he probably doesn’t focus that much on non-existent fixtures!

    The football media on the ball as ever……….

  • Nitram

    Mikey

    Yes interesting that.

    It got me to thinking, I wonder if Norwich will be ‘held’ by Man City today ?

  • The Daily Mirror’s “Matt C Jones” wrote today of the Wolves match – “…the Gunners clung on to the lead they’d established in the first half thanks to Alexandre Lacazette’s goal.” If anyone needed it, here is proof that they were watching a different game to the one everyone else saw.

    It may be worth keeping an eye on Matt C Jones.

  • Nitram

    seismic

    I have an idea what the C stands for.