With a seventh Women’s Super League trophy now in our cabinet, we look back on how Chelsea claimed a fifth consecutive title. This is Part Two of the story of our 2023/24 season…

Ahead of the resumption of competitive action when the Blues would play five matches across three different competitions in January, we headed to Morocco for a warm weather camp.

Three days into the camp, we suffered a huge blow as star striker Sam Kerr suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and would subsequently be ruled out for the rest of the season.

We added defensive and attacking reinforcements during the transfer window, with Nathalie Bjorn being our first signing of 2024.

The Swedish defender was brought in to bolster our backline, joining from fellow WSL side Everton, while moves were made quickly to add more goal threat to the squad following Kerr’s injury.

In late January, Colombian forward Mayra Ramirez put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half year deal, making the move from Levante. The 25-year-old moved to London having scored 32 goals in 95 games in La Liga since joining the Spanish club in 2022.

‘I am very honoured to be a part of Chelsea,' said Ramirez after completing her transfer. 'To be part of such a huge club is a dream come true and one I’ve had since I was a little girl.’

Back to business

We returned to WSL duty for 2024, like we had done to kick off the campaign, at Stamford Bridge. This time, we hosted Manchester United. There was another hat-trick at the Bridge for Lauren James as we prevailed 3-1 winners. A perfect way to start the new calendar year.

Back-to-back 3-0 wins followed – away to Brighton and at home to Everton – as we remained three points clear at the top of the WSL table ahead of a clash with Manchester City in mid-February.

It was against City where our 22-game winning streak at Kingsmeadow came to an end as we fell to a 1-0 defeat. Bunny Shaw scored the only goal of the game as the visitors moved level on points and goal difference with the Blues.

There was now another international break and it was during her time away with the United States that Mia Fishel suffered an ACL injury. A devastating end to a debut campaign in Blue.

Leicester were our next opponents and we returned to winning ways in style, putting four past the foxes with no reply at the King Power Stadium.

It was a day to remember for Ramirez and Bjorn, who both netted their debut WSL goals for Chelsea, and for Catarina Macario, who made her long-awaited debut after 21 months out with an ACL injury. Our American forward not only made her first appearance but scored her first goal, netting our fourth six minutes after coming on as a substitute.

LJ lights up the Bridge... again

Sitting top of the table, level on points but with a three-goal advantage over Manchester City in second, we hosted Arsenal at the Bridge. James set us on our way, before a Sjoeke Nusken brace after only 32 minutes helped us to a 3-1 win, which played out in front of a record crowd for a WSL game at our stadium.

After scoring her seventh WSL goal at the Bridge - and her 14th across all competitions up to this point – manager Emma Hayes heaped praise on our prolific No10.

‘It is a playground for her out there,’ she said. ‘Lauren is a maverick, not always perfect, not always consistent, but I understand that person and I know when we get to Stamford Bridge, she will 1,000 per cent perform for the team here.’

Aggie Beever-Jones’ eighth goal of the season opened the scoring in our next outing at West Ham, before Erin Cuthbert smashed home our second to secure a 2-0 win. That match took place on 24 March and it would be 17 April until we played again in the league, with Continental Cup, FA Cup and Champions League duties filling up our schedule.

When we finally returned to league action almost a month later, we welcomed Aston Villa to Kingsmeadow for a midweek fixture.

In what was Hayes’ 200th WSL game as Chelsea manager, we bounced back from consecutive cup defeats with a 3-0 win. It was a match of debut goals as Maika Hamano and Kadeisha Buchanan scored their first for the club, with Beever-Jones the other name on the scoresheet.

We finished Wednesday evening at the top of the table due to goal difference, but with Manchester City beating West Ham later that weekend, we now sat second with our title rivals having played one game more.

Second chance at title needed

Following our Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona, we had a quick turnaround as we travelled to Prenton Park to play Liverpool. A seven-goal thriller ended in a 4-3 defeat for the Blues as we lost ground in the title race. It was now advantage City as we trailed Gareth Taylor’s side by six points, with Chelsea having three games left to play compared to their two.

If there was any positive to the defeat to Liverpool, it was the return of our captain Millie Bright to the starting XI following five months out with a knee injury.

We had to hope City slipped up in their final two matches. Before we kicked off our last home game of the season against Bristol City, the league leaders suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Arsenal that afternoon. A win – and an emphatic one at that – would put the Blues right back in contention for a fifth consecutive title.

We made the most of our second chance, beating Bristol 8-0 on our turf to move us three behind City – who we had a game in hand over – and give us a one-goal advantage. There was a Guro Reiten masterclass on show as our Norwegian scored four terrific goals, with Beever-Jones netting a brace, while Niamh Charles and Nusken also found the back of the net. What a team effort!

It was the perfect way to say goodbye to Kingsmeadow for this season – and for a final time for the outgoing Hayes and club legends Fran Kirby and Maren Mjelde, who were to leave the club at the end of campaign. All three Blues icons were celebrated at full-time by players, staff and fans alike.

‘They never gave up and had belief amongst them,’ said Hayes after her final game at Kingsmeadow.

‘They maintained the drive and the determination no matter the setbacks. They wanted to make sure that Kingsmeadow gave Fran and Maren, and yes, me the send-off that was fitting for what 12 years is all about.

‘I learned so much from the players today. I really did. I learned a lot about the importance of belief, the importance of don't write Chelsea off - and the players have driven that. They were exceptional, especially during the second half. Tonight will be a memory for me forever.’

The final week

We made up our game in hand on the Wednesday night of the final week of the season with a clash against Tottenham at Brisbane Road. A win would send us top going into the last day, and we got the job done with a 1-0 victory. Hamano’s second goal of the season in the first half was enough to send us top of the table once again, now level on points and with a two-goal advantage over Manchester City.

All roads led to Old Trafford and Villa Park on the final day as we faced Manchester United and City came up against Aston Villa.

And, within two minutes, Ramirez set the Blues on our way to the trophy, scoring with her head to make it 1-0.

It was a sign of what was to come from our forward, who put in a title-worthy performance, scoring once more and assisting two as we won 6-0 in a stunning team display. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Nusken, Melanie Leupolz, and Kirby were the other names on the scoresheet. And what a fitting end it was for Super Fran as she celebrated with the Blues fans one final time.

Job done. A rollercoaster season, with highs and lows, culminated in a fifth consecutive WSL title. Our seventh in total, all won during Hayes' 12-tenure, which came to an end in the Chelsea way, winning.