The Blues returned to 2nd as they overcame their East London rivals. Goals from British duo Beth England and Erin Cuthbert were enough to end Emma Hayes’ side’s barren WSL run, and also end their opponent’s five-game unbeaten league run as it ended Chelsea 2-0 West Ham.
Despite the frustrating stalemate against Brighton, Emma Hayes was only able to make two changes due to injuries, COVID-19 and the Asia Cup. Ann-Katrin Berger started in the net with Jonna Andersson, Aniek Nouwen and Millie Bright once again with the armband.
Niamh Charles and Guro Reiten took up their familiar wingback roles with Erin Cuthbert and Sophie Ingle in the pivot. Jessie Fleming and Fran Kirby supported Pernille Harder in the attack. Beth England surprisingly started on the bench, despite Sam Kerr’s absence at the Asia Cup.
Having already gone 180 minutes without scoring the WSL, it was no surprise to see Chelsea start hesitantly. They struggled to create clear chances and get the ball flowing. Sophie Ingle’s mishit cross nearly broke the spell but it came back off the top of the bar to sum up recent performances.
Pernille Harder had the closest effort of the half, as she latched onto Fleming’s pass. However, like against Brighton, a goalkeeper in inspired form – this time Anna Leat – saved brilliantly. Reiten curled a free kick over to ensure it remained goalless at half-time.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea had failed to score in 225 minutes of WSL football and besides the Conti Cup victory against the Hammers, had failed to score in 5 of the last 6 matches.
Hayes reacted at half-time, bringing on centre-forward England for Reiten at half-time. This change looked inspired barely 6 minutes in. The outstanding Erin Cuthbert cut inside and drove a low-effort that Leat could only parry. Beth England gleefully seized the loose ball and dispatched it. Her first goal for several months was met with jubilant celebrations.Embed from Getty Images
With the monkey off the back, Chelsea loosened up and controlled the game. Fran Kirby first turned and clipped an effort straight at Leat. The playmaker then teed up Erin Cuthbert on the 82’ minute and her brilliant banana shot sailed into the bottom corner. It was the goal her performance deserved and it ensured the scoreline had a more realistic reflection, ending Chelsea 2-0 West Ham.
Full Time: Chelsea 2-0 West HamEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: Chelsea 2-0 West Ham
The Blues are back to 2nd in the WSL, just one point behind Arsenal after their surprising loss to bottom of the league Birmingham City. The goal-drought is over and hopefully, Chelsea can kick on to defend their WSL crown after all. Before that, however, it’s time to start defending our Women’s FA Cup away at Aston Villa.