Ladies preview: Championship point
news Tue 15 May 2018
By the end of this evening, Chelsea Ladies could have won the Double.
We have all the info needed ahead of the game, which is away to Bristol City Women and kicks off at 7pm. It is live on BT Sport…
Consecutive 2-1 home wins in the space of four days have put Chelsea Ladies on the brink of the WSL1 title as we have gone six points clear of Manchester City with two games to play. In the first of those victories, a last-minute effort from Erin Cuthbert defeated Birmingham City, after the other Blues had cancelled out a stunning Fran Kirby strike.
After that match, the striker added to the PFA and FWA awards she has won this term with a pair of awards at Chelsea’s Player of the Year dinner, and she followed that up with her 25th goal of the season to open the scoring against Sunderland on Saturday. Eniola Aluko was on target in the second half to double our lead and that goal proved crucial as Sunderland pulled one back late on to ensure a nervy conclusion.
Bristol have won three of their past five matches, beating Yeovil, Everton and Sunderland to push themselves up to seventh, but all of those victories were away from home. They are without a victory at Stoke Gifford since the opening match of 2018, when they defeated the Toffees. In their last outing in front of their own fans, they lost 6-1 to Manchester City.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
One point will be enough to secure the WSL1 title for the Blues. Should we fail to pick it up this evening, we travel to Liverpool on Sunday for the final match of the season. That fixture takes place at Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers, and kicks off at 12.30pm. Travel to the game is available. Manchester City, the only side who can overhaul us at the top, face home games against Yeovil and Everton after back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Assistant manager Paul Green will be taking charge of the team this evening in the absence of Emma Hayes, who has been advised against travelling as she nears the end of her pregnancy, and he wants the squad to get the job done at the first attempt.
‘I'm sure the girls will want to do it for Emma as well as themselves,’ he said. ‘It will be a real case of everyone pulling together, working as hard as we can to get over the line. We're all looking forward to it, but it's not done yet.
‘We need a professional performance. Bristol have got some good young players and Willie Kirk has done a good job there over the past couple of years. They've got the PFA Young Player of the Year, Lauren Hemp, who is regularly on the scoresheet, so we know we've got to go there and do the business.
‘It won't be easy, but we're confident in our squad that whoever plays tonight will deliver a performance. The squad depth has been there for all to see and I think if we complete the Double it will show it's a real squad effort. You can't keep playing the same team, we've had to rotate at the right times, and I think so far we've got that right.
‘I think the depth has made the difference. If you're successful in all the competitions, the games come thick and fast and you can't just play the same players, you need a big squad. That's stood us in good stead and will help us get over the line, I hope.’
In our two WSL1 meetings against Bristol in 2017 we scored 10 times without reply. We met the Vixens in our penultimate Spring Series match, securing a 4-0 away win. After Millie Bright's downward header gave us a first-half lead, Fran Kirby added a brace after the break and Ramona Bachmann netted our fourth. They were then our opponents in our first game of the 2017/18 season, which also happened to be our maiden game at Kingsmeadow. A 6-0 victory followed as Drew Spence netted the first Chelsea Ladies goal at our new home, Maren Mjelde bagged a brace and Fran Kirby, Magda Eriksson and Gilly Flaherty were also on target.
We already have won victory in Stoke Gifford to our name this year, when Karen Carney’s last-minute penalty secured a 2-1 win over Bristol in the Continental Tyres Cup group stage. The Blues haven’t lost away to the Vixens since May 2013.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Although she scored her 25th goal of the season against Sunderland on Saturday, Fran Kirby only has eyes for team honours.
'We still need to go to Bristol and Liverpool, two difficult places to visit, so we need to stay switched on,' said Kirby. 'We had a lapse of concentration conceding late on against Sunderland, putting a bit of pressure on ourselves, so we need to tighten up with that. But everyone is really excited and hopefully we can do it.
'We need to keep enjoying it. It has been an amazing season and I don't think it could have gone much better for me personally, apart from winning the league. That's my sole focus now and any individual awards are just a bonus.'