Chelsea FC Women – The Season’s Story So Far

Chelsea FC Women – The Current Season

Still unbeaten, Chelsea FC Women find themselves in third place in the WSL table when the second half of the season is about to kick off next weekend. With two games less played, the Blues stand on 20 points right behind Manchester United with 26 points and Arsenal with 22. 

Chelsea FC Women Lineup against Everton in the FA Cup.
Chelsea FC Women’s ‘interesting’ 3rd kit… Image Credit: Mia Eriksson

We’ll take a look at the players in the Blues and what they have accomplished during the fall. 

Chelsea FC Women – The Keepers

Ann-Katrin Berger – Goalkeeper

The German keeper, also known as Chelsea’s number one, has had a great first half of the season. After her brilliant performance in the Continental Cup win just before last season brutally ended due to Covid-19, Ann-Katrin Berger, has been the natural choice for Hayes above Carly Telford, the first half of the season. 

The communication with the Chelsea defence has improved a lot and it shows in Berger’s confidence. This has also earned her the first appearance in Germany’s national team and there will be no surprise if there is more to come in that department for the Blues keeper. 

AKB has been brilliant for Chelsea FC Women
AKB has emerged as one of the WSL’s top keepers. Image Credit: Zuma Press Inc.

Carly Telford – Goalkeeper

Keeper Carly Telford, remains as one of Chelsea’s tried and tested players. Although she has made a limited number of appearances this season, Telford is ever reliable every time she dons a pair of gloves. Yet, a change of pace may be on its way for Telford, as player rotation may be likely with Chelsea’s relentless upcoming schedule. Internationally, Telford’s most recent minutes for the Lionesses came during their competitive fixtures at the SheBelieves Cup way back in February. Telford impressed across the whole tournament with her unwavering alertness, ability to consistently recover in quick succession, and her utter confidence between the posts. Telford has also been called up to every England training camp this year, her experienced head charged with steering the youth at Chelsea FC Women.

Zecira Musovic – Goalkeeper 

Before the winter break Chelsea announced the signing of Sweden international and former FC Rosengård goalkeeper Zecira Musovic. For eight years, the 24 year-old has been a part of the successful Swedish side Rosengård and with them she has won the Swedish league no less than four times.

The 2020 season she played all 22 league games for Rosengård and after the round of 32 in Champions league she declared her departure from Sweden and revealed her next stop; Chelsea FC Women. Exciting times ahead. 

Chelsea FC Women – The Defence

Maren Mjelde – Defender 

Norway’s captain has yet again proven to be essential in the Blues’ defence. Mjelde, who is a hard-working and solid footballer both on and off the pitch, celebrated 150 appearances for her country back in October when Norway managed to qualify for the Women’s European Championship 2022, after a 1-0 win against Wales. 

The Norweigan is known to step up in the big games and during the first half of the season she once again put herself in the score-sheet.  Maren Mjelde made the first goal on a penalty when Chelsea beat Manchester City with 3-1 at Kingsmeadow on October 11th. 

Maria Thorisdottir – Defender 

Thorisdottir is a clear defender in Norway’s starting formations and is a huge reason to Norway’s recent success internationally. Even so, she has had a hard time to become a natural part of Emma Hayes’ line ups the recent year. 

Maria Thorisdottir is a centre-back in Martin Sjögren’s national team but in Chelsea FC Women, we have mostly seen the Norweigan play in the midfield or like most recently, on the right-hand side back position. It was a joy to watch Thorisdottir when she took part of the starting formation in the Blues’ game against Arsenal in the Continental Cup group stage when Chelsea managed to get a solid 4-1 win. 

Magdalena Eriksson – Defender

The captain of Chelsea’s boat has had a brilliant and a massive year, both individually and as a player in the Blues’. Not only did she make her 100th appearance for Chelsea when she led her side out in the team’s Champion league comeback but she was also rewarded as Sweden’s “Player of the Year” for the first time in her career. Magda has had an unbelievable development as a football player, a leader and as a defender since she signed with the Blues. 

It also looks like she finally has cementated her spot in Sweden’s backline as a centre-back after having been used as a left back from head coach Peter Gerhardsson until recently. It would not be surprise if Chelsea’s skipper also will wear the armband for her country in the future. 

Captain Magda Eriksson marshalls for the Blues.
Magda Eriksson has captained the Blues to multiple trophies. Image Credit: Harriet Lander via Chelsea FC Women/Getty Images.

Jonna Andersson – Defender

A player that this world-class stacked squad that almost never gets enough credit for her efforts is Swedish defender Jonna Andersson. Aimlessly and quietly she works harder than one ever can imagine on Chelsea’s left-hand side. She’s explosive while going forward, physically strong while defending and her collaboration with Magdalena Eriksson has developed into something Chelsea can’t manage without while going up against the league’s other top teams. 

Jonna has also played a great part in Sweden’s successful year, which ended with them manage to win their European Qualification group and going through to the Euros in England 2022. 

Millie Bright – Defender

Steadfast centre back, Millie Bright has once again been a rock in the Blues’ ranks, her stout performances rarely fluctuating below anything short of faultless. Bright’s maturating leadership from the back, alongside her established partnership with captain Magdalena Eriksson, mean that the duo are one of the most formidable defensive pairings in the league. On the international scene, Bright has been called up to all of the Lionesses training camps and played every game of the SheBelieves Cup earlier in the year, alluding to her importance to both club and country.

Hannah Blundell – Defender

Fullback Hannah Blundell, is one of those rare treasures that is able play equally well on either side of the pitch. Blundell is agile and technical, with a deft touch that has led to her netting a fair few screamers in her time. Blundell has started once for the Blues this season, yet it is likely that more game time is to follow. Having been at the club since 2013, Blundell has more than played her part in Chelsea’s successes over the years, and has proven herself as a fine asset to the team.

Jess Carter – Defender

23-year-old Jess Carter, has been an excellent addition to Chelsea’s squad since joining in 2018. Typically playing as a fullback, Carter also has the skillset to adopt a more central role. Carter approaches games with a solid defensive mindset, halting oppositions with opportune challenges and blocks. Carter has not yet made a significant number of appearances this season, yet each time she is on the field she displays a growing maturity and confidence which looks set to continue.  

Chelsea FC Women – The Midfield

Guro Reiten – Midfielder

Chelsea’s youngest Norweigan, Guro Reiten, has done nothing but to prove why she is worthy to be a blue, since she arrived ahead of last season. Reiten knows how to score and how to assist her teammates. 

Guro Reiten is a what you could call a gold-mind and it would be a total lie if we said that we didn’t want to see more of the Norweigan in the second part of this on-going season. Reiten’s crosses, her free-kicks, her way to take care of corner kicks and her ability to score from outside the box will be an essential part of Chelsea’s way to become one of the big teams in Europe the next few years to come. 

Melanie Leupolz – Midfielder

Former captain for Bayern München, Melanie Leupolz has quickly established herself in the WSL. To see the similarities with Sophie Ingle is not hard and it is the German international that has been in the Blues starting formation most games since she joined. Her German discipline and working moral on the field is easy to notice and although Chelsea are stacked in the midfield with class, Leupolz’s style of playing has come to match the English style perfectly. Her experience from European top football will definitely come in handy when the Blues will go up against tougher opponents in the Champions League.

Melanie Leupolz joined Chelsea FC Women on a free transfer.
Leupolz has impressed since joining last year. Image Credit: Lynne Cameron/The FA.

Jessie Fleming – MIdfielder

Young Canadian talent Jessie Fleming earned herself debut in Canada’s senior national team at the age of 15 and is an established playmaker for her country already. Fleming was in the starting formation for Chelsea’s second leg against Benfica in the Champions League at home in Kingsmeadow and was a great part in the many chances the Blues created in the first 45 minutes. Together with Niamh Charles and Erin Cuthbert she is an exciting part of young, promising players that will most definitely get chances to prove herself for the future while she will have a great opportunity to learn from more experienced players within the team. 

Ji So-Yun – Midfielder

Technically skilled with the ball at her feet, Ji has been and is the heart of Chelsea’s offensive and defensive play. It has been obvious that Pernille Harder’s arrival has given Emma Hayes some headache, and the South Korean playmaker has been moved down back to play in front of the backline together with Melanie Leupolz. 

Ji is a hard working player and one of the things she really contributes with is that she naturally links the defensive midfield together with the defence. Even so, Ji has also showed that she can score as we won’t forget that it was her that initiated the goal scoring when Everton came for a visit to Kingsmeadow and the Blues had a nice revenge for the loss in the FA Cup quarter final back in September. 

Ji So-Yun is one of the most recognisable WSL superstars.
Ji So-Yun has been consistently excellent for Chelsea FC Women for many seasons. Image Credit: Catherine Ivill via Getty Images.

Sophie Ingle – Midfielder

Wales captain Sophie Ingle, has often been considered by Emma Hayes as one of Chelsea’s most significant players, Hayes even suggesting that the upcoming Olympic team should be built around her. Indeed, she is a strong presence, an added physical deterrent reinforcing Chelsea’s back four. Further than this, Ingle is able to coolly and comfortably dictate flows of play, often acting as a springboard for developing attacks. Internationally, Ingle recently led Wales in their 2022 European qualifying matches and earned her 100th cap for her country in September.

Niamh Charles – Midfielder

Since joining Chelsea in June, 21-year-old Niamh Charles, has made quite the impression. The midfielder boasts a fine light-footed dribbling ability that is topped off with visionary passing. Her natural attacking flair and creative positioning bolsters the Blues forward line taking their offensive ranks that little bit further. Charles’ consistently excellent performances have not gone unnoticed further afield, and she received her first senior call-up for England in September.  

Charlotte Fleming – Midfielder

Youngster Charlotte Fleming, signed her first professional contract with the Blues this season. The 18-year-old has been with Chelsea since the age of ten and follows in the footsteps of Drew Spence and Hannah Blundell in graduating from the Academy. Although Fleming typically leans towards an attacking midfield role, she is also a willing participant in defensive duties, demonstrating her versatility across the middle third. Since signing on the dotted line, Fleming has paused her academic studies and is using the opportunity to “soak up as much as possible”. Who can blame her? Playing alongside some of the world’s best is not an opportunity that comes knocking very often.

Drew Spence – Midfielder

Long serving player Drew Spence, became the first player of the modern Chelsea Women era to reach 200 appearances for the club earlier this season. Spence has been with Chelsea through thick and thin, which inherently makes her a truly important member of the squad. Spence has had limited game time so far this season, yet, on and off the pitch, her experience in the Chelsea ranks and the influence she imparts upon means she is held in the highest regard, notably by boss, Emma Hayes. The 28-year-old is a consistent resolute midfielder that has a knack of finding the back of the net every so often.  

Chelsea FC Women – The Attack

Fran Kirby – Forward

A debilitating illness and a global pandemic might have seen some ease their way back onto the pitch, yet Fran Kirby has returned not with a whimper, but with a bang. After missing the majority of the 2019/20 season being diagnosed with pericarditis, Kirby’s recovery has seen her come back fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever for Chelsea FC Women. Kirby has already netted three goals in six appearances, as well as claiming several assists, demonstrating the utter danger she brings in and around the area. Kirby also scored two goals in Chelsea’s UWCL victory over Benfica taking her to a total of 70 goals, meaning she is now the Blues all time top goalscorer.

Fran Kirby - the record goalscorer for Chelsea FC Women.
Fran Kirby became the record goalscorer for Chelsea FC Women against Benfica Women in the UWCL. Image Credit: Getty Images.

Erin Cuthbert – Forward

Chelsea’s resident “permanent pest” continues to wreak havoc up and down the wings of each football pitch she steps on to. Erin Cuthbert harbours an untameable energy that can tie oppositions in knots and is never afraid to get stuck in and do the dirty work. The 22-year-old is an impactful player for Chelsea FC Women and her presence is quickly felt whether she starts a game or is brought on from the bench and she has already exhibited this tenfold this season.

As a Scotland international, Cuthbert most recently played for her country in their campaign to qualify for the Euro’s 2022.

Beth England – Forward

Striker Beth England, ended the previous two seasons as Chelsea’s top scorer and this outstanding form has since not faltered. England is a daring forward, asserting herself in positions that are, more often than not, problematic for defenders and goalkeepers alike. Yet, a key aspect of England’s game is building partnerships with her forward counterparts, relationships that are now ticking along nicely.

A recognised integral figure in Chelsea’s recent successes, England was named as Chelsea’s Women’s Player of the Year, was featured in the WSL Team of the Season and was voted as PFA’s Players Player of the Year for her performances in the 2019/20 season. It should therefore come as no surprise that England has also been called up to each of the Lionesses camps and competitions this year. England for England. We love to see it. 

Sam Kerr – Forward

When Sam Kerr joined Chelsea there were a lot of people that expectated her to be a contender for the Golden boot straight away after her success in the NWSL and Chigaco Red Stars. The Australian striker struggled visibly in the beginning, missing chances that she, with her capacity, normally would excute in her sleep. 

When Chelsea travelled to Manchester and Leigh Sports Village for the first game this WSL season and Kerr ended up on the score-sheet, many of her critics were silenced. Since then, Kerr has found the back of net, no less than seven times in the league, and seem to enjoy her collaboration with Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby who both have assisted the Aussie nicely more times than one. 

Pernille Harder – Forward

Denmark captain and superstar Pernille Harder has been a true joy to watch during 2020 even though  Covid-19 has been raging all over the world. Chelsea’s record signing joined the London team after an almost otherworldly season with her former team, Vfl Wolfburg, in the Frauen Bundesliga. 

The name Pernille Harder doesn’t need a closer presentation, but let’s just say that she already has proven herself in the Blue jersey, after scoring two league goals (three if we count her deflected equaliser in the draw vs Arsenal) and one Champions League goal. She has assisted her new teammates directly and indirectly with her presence and we can’t wait to see more of her link ups with Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby and Bethany England during 2021. 

Chelsea FC Women – Summary

Currently laying third in the table with two games in hand, Chelsea FC Women have been unbeaten in the first half of the season, a feat that is only matched by current leaders, Manchester United. Yet, with a number of high-profile summer signings, it was perhaps expected that the Blues would hit the ground running. But, as with all best laid plans, this was perhaps not quite the case. New players need time to adjust, to adapt into the role the team needs them to take, and this has been seen perhaps most notably with Sam Kerr. The expectations for such players can often be far too high to begin with and it is somewhat unwise to assume a player planted in the middle of an unfamiliar team will perform as they usually would.

The WSL 2019-20 Champions!
Can Chelsea defend their WSL title again? Image Credit: Chelsea FC Women via Getty Images.

Players need time to gel as a unit, and fortunately, Chelsea are working far more cohesively as we approach the second half of the season. The forward partnerships of Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder and Beth England are beginning to take flight and we have seen glimpses of this in the last couple of games. At the back, the same can be said for the Blues typically solid back four consisting of Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson and Jonna Andersson. The additions of Melanie Leupolz and Niamh Charles into the midfield have also taken effect, with both impressing immensely thus far for Chelsea FC Women.

Chelsea FC Women – The Future?

Looking ahead at Chelsea’s tightly packed schedule, one would expect a fair amount of rotation, which should be no problem as Chelsea’s squad boast an extensive depth.

In terms of the WSL, Chelsea look likely to continue their unbeaten run, yet it may be a tightly contested race for the title which makes the league all the more exciting. As for the FA Cup, Chelsea have drawn Manchester City in the quarter-final round. City have settled into a rhythm of late and so it will be interesting to see how each team performs. Whichever way it goes, the winning team stands a good chance of becoming the eventual winners of the tournament.

With the Champions League, Chelsea FC Women have had a wonderful start, yet there is plenty more work to be done. The Blues have an enormously talented squad, a careful balance of experience and youth, a squad that is certainly capable of making their mark in Europe. We’ll give you our views on what lineups and formations we both think could be good options for our star-stacked squad in the upcoming, important weeks ahead to maintain in the top of the league and to progress in the Champions League.

Charlotte’s Chelsea FC Women XI:

4 – 5 – 1

Ann-Katrin Berger

Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson

Sophie Ingle

Fran Kirby, Erin Cuthbert

Ji So-Yun, Pernille Harder

Beth England

Mia’s Chelsea FC Women XI:

4-2-3-1

Zecira Musovic

Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magda Eriksson, Jonna Andersson

Melanie Leupolz, Sophie Ingle

Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, Guro Reiten

Sam Kerr

Written by Charlotte Stacey (@CharlotteS1206) and Mia Eriksson (@mia_eriksson)

Edited by Rob Pratley


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