The pressure is on Chelsea Women next week, as two matches in four days hold the key to determining whether the Blues can retain the league title and advance to their first Champions League final. On Wednesday 21st, Chelsea travel to Manchester City’s Academy stadium for an evening game which will largely decide the destination
The pressure is on Chelsea Women next week, as two matches in four days hold the key to determining whether the Blues can retain the league title and advance to their first Champions League final.
On Wednesday 21st, Chelsea travel to Manchester City’s Academy stadium for an evening game which will largely decide the destination of the Women’s Super League trophy, as first in the table play second.
Then on Sunday 25th the Blues face Bayern Munich in Germany in the critical away leg of the European semi-final, with manager Emma Hayes buoyed by the performances of Naimh Charles and Jess Carter as stand-in right backs for the recovering Maren Mjelde.
Mjelde, 31, affectionately nicknamed ‘The Machine’ by former teammate and fellow Norwegian Maria Thorisdottir, is recovering at home from the left-knee ACL tear sustained in the Conti Cup final, when she twisted on her standing leg and had to be stretchered off.
With her cockapoo Cody for company, she is on the mend following surgery on March 18, and was well enough to cheer on her teammates from the stand during Chelsea’s recent demolition of Birmingham.
“She’s doing well,” confirmed manager Emma Hayes of Mjelde, who signed a contract extension in January, keeping her at Kingsmeadow until June 2022, with an option until the summer of 2023.
Mjelde will be encouraged by the appearance of a huge new banner (pictured below) at the back of the main stand at the Kingsmeadow stadium, urging the rest of the squad to succeed, as a way of supporting their recovering colleague.
While targeting a return to gentle pre-season training as early as this June, Mjelde is using her wisdom and influence to help her team in the challenging days ahead. Hayes values that input. “If Maren speaks, everyone listens,” she said recently.
Although Mjede was moving gingerly on crutches at Kingsmeadow as she watched the 6-0 thrashing of Birmingham, she was able to make it on to the pitch for Hayes to present a framed shirt to mark the Scandinavian defender’s 100 appearances for Chelsea.
It isn’t just the Blues that are missing her. Norway (for whom she plays at centre back) is now without its captain too.
“The good news is that my knee injury isn’t as bad as it might have seemed,” said Maren, reassuringly, in a message to fans. “If everything goes to plan I will be back with the team in the summer.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea Women face London City Lionesses in the FA Cup this Friday evening (April 16). Victory in that 4th round tie would set up a clash with either Everton or Durham.