A dramatic day for the Blues ended in an important victory as they moved within 5 points of Arsenal, with 2 games in hand. After Government sanctions were imposed on Roman Abramovich, Emma Hayes’s side responded in style with a blistering first half as it ended West Ham 1-4 Chelsea.
Hayes made two changes after the disappointing weekend Continental Cup Final loss to Manchester City. The Blues reverted to a 3-5-2 formation, with Zecira Musovic replaced Ann-Katrin Berger in goal. Aniek Nouwen, Jess Carter and captain Millie Bright were in the back 3, with Niamh Charles and Jonna Andersson at wingback. Sophie Ingle and Ji So-Yun started in the centre of the park. Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr were joined by Bethany England in attack.
Despite the difficulties off the pitch, Chelsea started with intensity and vigour. Pernille Harder nearly opened the scoring after just 90 seconds, but her header from Andersson’s corner crashed back off the post. Despite this, they quickly took a deserved lead just 21 minutes in. Again it was the same combination, as the Swede found the Dane, she stepped inside and curled a brilliant finish past Mackenzie Arnold.Embed from Getty Images
The lead was doubled minutes later in sensational fashion. Again Harder was involved. Her perfectly cushioned knock-down encouraged Niamh Charles to unleash a rocket with her left-foot that screamed into the net. Eight minutes later, and the contest was practically over. Sam Kerr burst down the right on the 32nd minute, and although her route to goal was blocked, she found Ji. The South Korean delivered a mercurial chipped pass around the West Ham defence that Harder simply had to nod into the net.Embed from Getty Images
Crisis at Chelsea? It certainly didn’t seem that way on the pitch!
West Ham had been a dogged test under Ollie Harder for a number of sides and they came out with real intensity. This was rightly rewarded on the 48th minute as they found a possible route back into the game. Good combination play from Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Kate Longhurst saw the latter’s cross neatly volleyed home by the Icelandic international. It was also the first ever WSL goal Musovic had conceded.
Katerina Svitkova and Claudia Walker both had chances to really put pressure on Chelsea by reducing the lead further, but a defensive lapse put pay to any hopes. A swift break from Chelsea saw Harder try and release Jonna Andersson. Although the pass was cut out, some penalty box pinball eventually saw the ball land at Sam Kerr’s feet. She wasn’t missing from 6 yards out to make it West Ham 1-4 Chelsea.Embed from Getty Images
A raft of Chelsea changes including appearances for Lauren James, Alsu Abdullina, Drew Spence and Guro Reiten failed to impact the scoreline further, but West Ham 1-4 Chelsea keeps the WSL destiny firmly in the Blues’ own hands.
Full Time: West Ham 1-4 ChelseaEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: West Ham 1-4 Chelsea
A difficult day for Chelsea ends in triumph. Emma Hayes spoke about the uncertainty ahead off the field. However, on the field, the mission is clear. Just keep winning, and the Women’s Super League crown will be retained. It’s easier said than done, however. As a result, the Blues will need to be ready for a fight. Starting with Aston Villa this weekend.