For Chelsea Women this year has easily been one of their most successful seasons. Winners of the Women’s Super League and Continental Cup, UEFA Women’s Champions League runner ups. With two out of three trophies already in the bag for them, it is a season to remember.
The Moments “Mentality Monsters” were born
Against Manchester City at the Academy Stadium, the quarter-final of the Continental Cup. Chelsea were 1-0 up at half-time in fixture known for its caginess. During the second half, City found their rhythm and in no time got an equalizer.
In the 82nd minute, Lauren Hemp scored the goal that everyone assumed was taking them to the semi-final. The team kept pushing till the very final whistle and just seconds from full-time. The equalizer came from Niamh Charles (London Football Awards and Chelsea Women Supporters Group 2021 Young Player of the Year). The game moved into extra time, a goal from Guro Reiten and a Worldie from Sophie Ingle took Chelsea to the semi-final in a competition they went on to win.
Mentality Monster’s First Real Test
Against Atletico Madrid at Kingsmeadow – Champions League Round of 16 First Leg. One of the few games where all four of Chelsea’s attacking threats started: Bethany England, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder. The initial attacking game plan had to become a defensive one when Sophie Ingle was shown a red card. She was playing at the back to fill in for Skipper Magda Ericsson who sustained a knock to the head in training.
Chelsea down to 10 players and Rasheedat Ajibade has just given her team a penalty. Ann-Katrin Berger steps up for the team by saving the penalty. Millie Bright who wore the captain’s armband was seen tapping her head in what could be interpreted as “stay focused” and they did.
In the second half, Sam Kerr’s speed and relentless nature gave the blues their penalty which was scored by Maren Mjelde. A goal from Kirby six minutes later put the blues in the driver’s seat of the tie even with a man down. But Berger was the star of the show after conceding a penalty from a late challenge. She made her second penalty save of the tie.
Mentality Monsters Face the Wolves in one of the pivotal moments
Against VFL Wolfsburg at Ferenc Szusza Stadium, quarter-final of the UWCL. During the first leg, many believed Chelsea were outplayed and only won because they were lucky. 22 shots and eight on target for Wolfsburg as opposed to six shots and three on target for the Blues.
From stats like that it is not absurd to say the Blues got lucky, but saves from Berger and a goal line clearance from Jonna Andersson played a major role. When Chelsea came out for the second leg at the same stadium, it was clear they had every intention of making sure the previous win was not a fluke. They matched Wolfsburg play for play which reduced their amount of shots.
Mentality Monsters Got a Second Chance
Against FC Bayern Munich at Kingsmeadow, Semi-Final of the UWCL. After their victory at the FC Bayern Campus Platz 1, Bayern flew to London in full control of the tie. In the 10th minute, a Fran Kirby shot, which she later shared has been perfected from training put the Blues back in the tie. A stunning striking from the edge of the box by Sarah Zadrazil, that can now be appreciated for the wonderful goal it was shook things up. A few minutes before halftime, Ji So-Yun’s free-kick was deflected and she played a low ball through Bayern’s wall.
Clock ticking and extra time looming just around the corner. Jess Carter took a free-kick, Pernille Harder shook off Lineth Beerensteyn – Melanie Leupolz blocked her – giving Harder the space she needs to score. Kirby scored the last goal in a manner we do not get to see too often. Laura Benkarth, the Bayern Goalkeeper was in Chelsea’s half during a corner kick that should have been the last play of the game. The Blues struggled with the ball in their half with Vivian Asseyi almost ending the Champions League journey. Erin Cuthbert latched on to the ball after Drew Spence lost balance from a tackle. Cuthbert played to Kirby and with Benkarth outfield, the post was vacant and the blues booked a place in the UWCL final.
Mentality Monsters Crowned Champions of England
The global pandemic in 2020, saw a premature end to the WSL season. The Blues won the season with City in first and Chelsea in second with a game in hand. The standings were decided on a points per game system. People were not convinced that Chelsea deserved it, with claims of “a game in hand is not three points”.
Their 2020/2021 WSL campaign left no room for doubt with 18 wins, three draws and one loss in 22 matches. City hot on their heels and pushed them till the very end. The WSL victory was topped off when the Golden Boot and Golden Glove was won by Chelsea players. Sam Kerr with the golden boot after scoring 21 goals in 22 games. Ann-Katrin Berger with the golden gloves after keeping 13 clean sheets in 18 games and conceding only seven goals.
Written by Louisa Okolobe (@SolDaro)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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