Ladies preview: League leaders back in action

After knocking Bayern out and a break in games, Chelsea Ladies return to Kingsmeadow today where they take on Yeovil…



Although Chelsea went into the recent international break on the back of a defeat, it was a game in which manager Emma Hayes felt her side took 'the biggest step' in her time as manager after they eliminated Bayern Munich from the Champions League. A 2-1 loss on the night resulted in progress on the away goals rule thanks to Fran Kirby's strike in Germany; Drew Spence had previously scored the only goal of the first leg at Kingsmeadow.

In the WSL1, Chelsea are yet to drop a point or concede a goal. Consecutive 6-0 wins over Bristol City and Sunderland were followed by a 1-0 home victory against Liverpool that was far more comfortable than the scoreline suggested. Maren Mjelde was on target in that game to take her tally for the season to three, which is the joint-highest in the Blues camp alongside Kirby, and Spence and Gemma Davison have netted two apiece.

Yeovil have started the season with three WSL1 defeats on the bounce, losing at home to Manchester City and Sunderland either side of an away reverse at the hands of Bristol City. They failed to score in any of those games, but netted twice in the Continental Cup against Brighton in midweek. However, both goals could be firmly filed in the 'consolation' category as they came in stoppage time with the Glovers trailing 4-0. Incidentally, Brighton, who are managed by former England boss Hope Powell, had four former Blues players in their line-up: Dani Buet, Jenna Legg, Sophie Perry and Laura Rafferty.



The Blues' longest-serving player is Claire Rafferty, who celebrated her 10th anniversary at the club this summer. The left-back has seen the club transformed from one which struggled at the bottom of the league to a side expected to win virtually every game, but she knows nothing in football can be taken for granted, even in a game which sees top hosting bottom.

'We’re expected to win against Yeovil, but you still have to approach the game in the proper way,' said Rafferty. 'We've been very good this year at keeping clean sheets and that is our aim before every game. It feels a lot better when you’re winning games with a clean sheet, rather than 4-3 and 5-2 or whatever. That’s something we’re really strong on – Emma reiterates it all the time. She always says, "Goals win games, clean sheets win championships." Kaz Carney insists that’s her quote and Emma stole it off her, but even if she has Kaz has definitely taken it from someone else!'

 Claire Rafferty in action in pre-season


The first, and so far only, WSL game between the two sides was the opening match of the Spring Series at the end of April, with the Blues running out 6-0 winners at Wheatsheaf Park. Ji So-Yun scored the opener, curling home a delightful free-kick to get the ball rolling on the stroke of half-time, and she added another moments later at the end of an opening half the Blues dominated. Drew Spence had earlier struck woodwork and it was she who made it 3-0 early in the second half before Erin Cuthbert scored the fourth. The hugely impressive Crystal Dunn and substitute Ramona Bachmann were the other scorers against the WSL1 newcomers from the West Country.

- Chelsea Ladies v Yeovil Town Ladies at Kingsmeadow in Kingston, Surrey, kicks off at 2pm (don't forget the clocks have gone back to GMT).

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