Chelsea Women face Birmingham at the weekend, determined to keep up the pressure at the top of the table, writes Jane Grove. And it's the stability of the current team that is the bedrock on which current form has been built. The latest Opta stats, just released, show that the Blues have made only two changes
Chelsea Women face Birmingham at the weekend, determined to keep up the pressure at the top of the table, writes Jane Grove.
And it’s the stability of the current team that is the bedrock on which current form has been built.
The latest Opta stats, just released, show that the Blues have made only two changes to their starting XI in the last four games, after making 23 in the previous eight games.
Manager Emma Hayes’ rotation policy still applies to the cups, to give as many squad members as possible a crack of the whip, but increasingly her league selection is following a settled pattern, allowing the players to build instinct and understanding of their team-mates’ play.
Despite losing two of their last three WSL matches, Birmingham City Women are fourth in the table after a blistering first half of the season, playing well above expectations.
The Brummies strengthened their squad by signing 22-year-old Everton striker Claudia Walker on loan yesterday, on transfer deadline day for women’s football. Walker could play a role in Sunday’s tie.
Meanwhile, Opta statistics show that club captain Karen Carney needs only one more assist to become the first player to reach 30 in WSL history.
Chelsea have conceded only six goals in 13 games this season, all to Arsenal, although the WSL record for fewest goals conceded remains four (by Manchester City in 2016).
Arsenal star Vivianne Miedma’s goal in Arsenal’s defeat to Chelsea last time out means she has equalled the WSL record for most goals in a single season (15, level with Ellen White last season).
Those attending Sunday’s 2pm kick-off match against Birmingham at Kingsmeadow (and tickets can be bought at the stadium up until 12.30pm on the day) will be paying close attention to the fourth official’s board to see if history repeats. Birmingham’s Emma Follis is – according to Opta – the most substituted player in the WSL this season, after being taken off no fewer than 11 times!