A terrific 30 minutes sealed the deal at Walton Park as Emma Hayes’s side stayed 2 points behind Arsenal with a game in hand in a dominant display. A hugely impressive strike from Erin Cuthbert was the pick of the bunch as it ended Everton 0-3 Chelsea in cold, wet Merseyside.
After the dramatic late winner against Aston Villa, Chelsea welcomed back Pernille Harder as Emma Hayes made several changes for a 3-5-2. The defence was not altered: Zecira Musovic in nets with Jess Carter, Aniek Nouwen and captain Millie Bright. Sophie Ingle screened the defence with Erin Cuthbert and Jessie Fleming given free roaming midfield roles. Guro Reiten and Niamh Charles occupied the wingback spots, whilst Harder was partnered by Sam Kerr up top.
The Blues were on top from the first minute as they looked to close the gap on London rivals. After just 7 minutes, Kerr glanced a header wide from a Reiten cross, but Fleming picked up the pieces. She pulled back for Ingle and the Welshwoman’s clip was diverted into the net by Sam Kerr’s stooping header.
Everton struggled massively to deal with the intensity of the Chelsea press, and just 15 minutes in the contest was decided. Good pressure from Jessie Fleming won the ball back just outside the box and she teed up Guro Reiten. The wingback unleashed a left-foot howitzer that took a slight deflection and arrowed past Courtney Brosnan in the Toffees’ net.
Kerr headed an effort straight at Brosnan as the Blues continued to press, before Niamh Charles could only find the side-netting with her own header. However, the relentless attacking once again bore fruit on the 29th minute.
Again Fleming was involved as this time she laid off for Cuthbert. The Scot unleashed a first-time right foot rocket into the top corner, despite Brosnan’s best efforts.
Everton 0-3 Chelsea did not flatter the away side at all.
A bizarre extended half-time period saw referee James Bell replaced due to injury. This disruption didn’t help either side on a cold night.
With the game already won, Emma Hayes set about rotating as much as possible to avoid any injuries of her own, and to keep fitness and sharpness. The Blues made five changes in total. Firstly, they welcomed back club captain Magda Eriksson after 61 minutes, as she replaced Charles. Spence also replaced the impressive Cuthbert.
The second batch saw the brilliant Reiten and Harder replaced by Alsu Abdullina and Bethany England. Finally, the Blues also welcomed back Maren Mjelde on the 82nd minute, as the Norwegian defender replaced the again rock-solid Aniek Nouwen. Everton had late long range efforts through Graham and Duggan but Musovic was untroubled.
No more goals meant it ended Everton 0-3 Chelsea but another clean sheet and the Blues remain in control of their destiny.
Full Time: Everton 0-3 Chelsea
Final Thought: Everton 0-3 Chelsea
Destiny is in Chelsea’s own hands. If they win their next WSL match, they will go top of the league for the first time this season. In an ironic twist, it’s Arsenal’s own rivals Tottenham Hotspur – UWCL outsiders themselves – standing in their way.
Before that, there is more Women’s FA Cup action, with a home Quarter Final against Birmingham City.