Women’s preview: Gunning for the leaders

There is a chance today for Chelsea Women to close the gap on WSL leaders Arsenal when take them on away at 12.30pm…


Chelsea Women are on our best-ever run in the WSL era, recording 10 victories in a row and keeping 12 clean sheets on the bounce. Indeed, we have not conceded since our last meeting with Arsenal in mid-October, which is also the only league game in which our net has been breached.

In our two matches in 2019 we have recorded handsome wins over Everton in the WSL and Reading in the Continental Tyres Cup, with an early goal in each aiding our cause. Bethany England opened the scoring against the Toffees, followed by second-half goals by Drew Spence and Hannah Blundell. Then, on Wednesday night, it was the returning Fran Kirby with the early strike. She added another late on, while Anita Asante, with her first for Chelsea, and Ali Riley also found the back of the net.

Anita Asante notched her first Chelsea goal midweek

Arsenal are two points clear at the top of the table – and five ahead of the Blues – with a game in hand, despite losing their last WSL match of 2018 against Manchester City. That is the only league match they have failed to win as they look to win a first title in seven years, and a 4-2 win against West Ham kicked off the new year. The Gunners also continued their defence of the Continental Tyres League Cup, coming from behind to beat Birmingham City in midweek.

- Click for news of the Continental Tyres Cup semi-final draw



BT Sport will be showing the game live, with their coverage beginning at 12.15pm. As always, you can follow the action via our social media channels too. There will be live text commentary on our Twitter page, regular updates on Facebook and for behind-the-scenes footage, make sure you check out our matchday Instagram Story. Simply search 'ChelseaFCW' on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


There’s no doubt this is the standout fixture in the top flight today, but there are four other matches taking place in the WSL. Birmingham City, who are level on points with us, host Bristol City Women; Everton, our fourth-round opponents in the FA Cup, travel to Brighton & Hove Albion; West Ham United meet Manchester City at 3pm; and bottom of the table Yeovil Town welcome Liverpool to the South-West.


The Blues have regularly found ourselves lining up against the Gunners, particularly since the WSL era, with both clubs founder members of the rebranded English top flight.

The less said of our most recent match against Arsenal, a 5-0 defeat at Kingsmeadow in October, the better – but it shouldn’t be forgotten that a few months before that match we beat them 3-1 at Wembley Stadium to lift the FA Cup in front of more than 45,000 fans. Ramona Bachmann, with a brace, and Kirby were on target that day.

FA Women's Cup Final 17/18

A few weeks before that game we’d met at Borehamwood, our first away trip against the Gunners since 2016. Kirby put us in front just past the half-hour mark, as Bachmann took advantage of a poor clearance from Sari Van Veenendaal to play in our No14, who took her tally for the season to 20 with a composed finish. Had we managed to take that lead into the half-time break it could have been an altogether different story, but a fine goal by Beth Mead on the stroke of the interval drew the Gunners level.

After struggling away to Arsenal in the early WSL years, we boast a decent record there since turning a corner in 2014, when goals from Yuki Ogimi, Ji So-Yun and Jackie Groenen gave us a 3-2 victory. The following year we recorded a vital pair of away wins over Arsenal. Former Gunners skipper Katie Chapman and another ex-Arsenal player, Gemma Davison, were on target in a 2-1 win in the Women's FA Cup quarter-final and the latter scored there in the league, too. The victories helped us to win our first major silverware as we finished the campaign as league and cup winners.

Then, in 2016, Kirby netted a brace in a 2-0 win. She also scored a stunning goal for Reading against the Gunners, so the England centre-forward’s return to both action and the scoresheet in midweek could not have come at a better time.


Magdalena Eriksson is nominated for the December PFA Women’s Super League Player of the Month Awards.  She can be voted for here

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