Chelsea Women start their build-up to the new Women’s Super League season this weekend with a friendly against Roma at Kingsmeadow, where (above) scarf sellers are further testament to growth in the women’s game. OK, schools are still on holiday, so it’s even possible for youngsters to come to an evening match… but who in
Chelsea Women start their build-up to the new Women’s Super League season this weekend with a friendly against Roma at Kingsmeadow, where (above) scarf sellers are further testament to growth in the women’s game.
OK, schools are still on holiday, so it’s even possible for youngsters to come to an evening match… but who in their right mind chose 8pm on a Sunday for the game?
Turns out the Roma women are just flying in from Italy earlier in the day (air traffic control permitting), so it was decided to push the start back from the customary 7pm women’s evening time.
With many World Cup participants still enjoying a welcome break, it will be a partly unfamiliar Blues line-up for the game (tickets from £4).
Fans will have an early chance to assess new Yankee striker Mia Fishel, who has signed until the summer of 2026. Gaffer Emma Hayes has high hopes for the 22-year-old, but most eyes will be on returning forward Fran Kirby, now back in training after a long, long injury lay-off.
Also expected to play a part on Sunday evening will be new keeper Nicky Evrard. Chelsea now have an embarrassment of top-class goalies, with Ann-Katrin Berger, World Cup star Zecira Musovic and Hannah Hampton to choose from too.
Newcomers Catarina Macario, who has bagged the centre forward’s No9 shirt, and midfielder Sjoeke Nusken, wearing No6, have gone straight into training, and should also feature on Sunday night.
There’ll also be starting roles for Erin Cuthbert and Sophie Ingle, who had a relatively relaxed summer away from the World Cup drama.
Hayes is champing at the bit to get going with the new season (although the first game still seems a lifetime away on 1 October). “We’re still adjusting to life without Magda Eriksson,” she admitted, following the influential captain’s decision to leave for Germany alongside teammate and soulmate Pernille Harder.
“Magda was our captain and a big part of what we’ve achieved in recent years, but changes happen and I think the team will evolve to a different place this year.”
And that remains a thinly veiled code for ‘We’re determined to get our hands on that Champions League trophy’.
Because of their European involvement, Chelsea Women will only enter the League Cup at the quarter-final stage.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s men had a tough, but ultimately successful, Carabao Cup clash with Wimbledon at a boisterous Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, emerging 2-1 winners after falling behind to a first-half penalty.
The irrepressible Noni Madueke was the most influential player on the pitch. His mazy run into the Wombles’ defence just before the break earned another penalty, which he converted.
Sub Enzo scored from range after a fluff from the otherwise solid Wimbledon keeper Alex Bass to earn Chelsea a place in the next round.
- Chelsea’s Sunday night friendly against Roma at Kingsmeadow will make history as the first time VAR has been trialled at an English WSL stadium. Matchday ref Abi Byrne and her assistants Georgia Ball, Nicoleta Bria and Mel Burgin will be backed by video assistant referees Emily Heaslip and Chloe-Ann Small, operating remotely. It’s something Emma Hayes has long called for. VAR will clear up ‘clear and obvious errors’ or ‘serious missed incidents’ over goals, penalties, straight reds or mistaken identity.