Chelsea Women host Everton at Kingsmeadow in a special WSL match today which kicks off at 2pm.
All tickets were made free as a thank you for the support the team has received. Those tickets have all been taken and there is a special half-time lucky seat draw for fans in attendance at the game.
Here is the background to the fixture…
The Blues have not played since our win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday 12 December, with the women’s game in this country embarking on a winter break. While the rest will be looked upon favourably when we hit the business end of the season, the timing was not the best for Emma Hayes’s side, who put together a wonderful run to close out 2018.
Our 5-0 triumph over Spurs was an eighth consecutive win on the bounce, each of which has been achieved with a clean sheet. Deanna Cooper and Ali Riley both netted their first goals for the club, while Bethany England scored a brace for the third match running, which included a 4-0 win at Brighton in our most recent WSL fixture. Magda Eriksson and Ji So-Yun were also on target on the South Coast.
Everton are third from bottom in the English top flight, two points clear of Yeovil in last place, but there was an upturn in fortunes for the Toffees at the end of the year following the appointment of Willie Kirk as their new manager. They recorded their first WSL win of the campaign by beating Liverpool at the start of December, which was followed up by a Continental Tyres League Cup victory over their neighbours to end the year.
This will be our second game against Everton in the 2018/19 season, with the Blues held to a goalless draw when we met on Merseyside at the end of September. Spence hit the crossbar late on and Fran Kirby also fired wide as we failed to make the breakthrough for the third straight WSL game to begin our defence of the title.
A tight match was simply in keeping with our recent meetings with the Toffees, with both of last season’s games resulting in narrow victories for Hayes’s squad. When we met at Kingsmeadow this time last year it was the first time the two teams had squared off in a competitive fixture in almost four years, and it took until the closing stages of the game for us to seal a 1-0 victory. The match-winner was Jonna Andersson, whose brilliant late goal was the first of five vital strikes contributed by our left wing-back in the second half of the season after her arrival at the turn of the year.
It was another Swede who settled the contest when we travelled to the North-West in April, although on this occasion it was a case of getting our noses in front early on and holding on for a vital win. Eriksson’s glanced header from a Ramona Bachmann free-kick went in off the bar and we kept the Toffees out to secure a crucial win on our way to lifting the title.
Prior to that you have to go back to October 2014 for our last competitive match against Everton. On that occasion the Blues ran out 5-2 winners at Wheatsheaf Park thanks to a brace apiece from Eni Aluko and Rachel Williams, with Hannah Blundell also on target. England international Nikita Parris was on target for the Toffees.
It was a high-scoring affair in the previous season, too, although not for the right reasons as far as Chelsea were concerned. A hat-trick from Toni Duggan helped the Toffees to a 4-1 victory; Helen Ward scored a late consolation for the Blues.
There was another treble when the sides met in May 2012, this time scored by a Chelsea player as Ward struck all three of our goals in a 3-1 victory, and the centre-forward was also on target in a home game against Everton in the maiden season of the WSL.
Don’t forget we’re in action at home this midweek when Reading visit in the Continental Tyres League Cup. A place in the semi-finals of the competition is up for grabs and you can still buy tickets for that game, which kicks off at 7.30pm on Wednesday.