Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United: Champions Three In A Row!

A stunning Kingsmeadow comeback ensured Emma Hayes’s Blues won their third WSL title in a row. In a carnival atmosphere, the defending champions twice battled back from losing positions against Marc Skinner’s side who were determined to spoil the title party. However, a stunning brace from Sam Kerr ensured it finished Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United. This meant that once again, Chelsea end the season top of the table.

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Team News

The hard-fought win away at Birmingham City ensured destiny was in Chelsea’s hands. Emma Hayes started a familiar 3-4-3 line-up to finish the season. Ann-Katrin Berger continued in goal. Jess Carter, Millie Bright and Magda Eriksson were in the back 3. Niamh Charles was at right-wingback, whilst Jonna Andersson made her final Kingsmeadow appearance at left-wingback. Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert were the midfield steel. Completing the lineup: the fearsome front three of Pernille Harder and Guro Reiten supported Sam Kerr. The Australian was chasing her second Golden Boot in a row.

On the bench, Chelsea named Ji So-Yun and Drew Spence, who were both also potentially going to make final Kingsmeadow appearances. Defensive options included Zecira Musovic, Alsu Abdullina, Aniek Nouwen and Maren Mjelde. Attacking options included Bethany England, Lauren James and Jessie Fleming.

First Half

Chelsea knew a win guaranteed the title regardless of whatever Arsenal did. In contrast, Manchester United needed a win and favours from elsewhere to ensure they qualified for the UWCL. A racous atmosphere was matched by a frenetic start. It didn’t go according to plan early on. With 14 minutes on the clock, Katie Zelem’s perfect free-kick caused havoc in the Blues’ box. Martha Thomas got between Millie Bright and Jess Carter, subsequently nodding past Berger.

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Parity was achieved minutes later. A long throw from Carter was flicked on by Niamh Charles. Erin Cuthbert pounced on defensive hesitation, resultantly driving low past Earps into the far corner. 1-1. With the game stretched, Chelsea suffered another blow.

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On the 25th minute, former Blue Jackie Groenen broke the lines, playing in Leah Galton. Although she was offside, the flag failed to go up. Still yet, Chelsea failed to deal with the cross. In contrast, Ella Toone remained calm, catching the volley at the far-post. Her powerful effort deflected off Jonna Andersson, wrong-footing Berger and making it 2-1.

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At half-time, Chelsea were not winning the title. The team looked nervous and Emma Hayes had to make changes.

Second Half

Chelsea acted swiftly, making two changes. Jonna Andersson and Sophie Ingle were removed. In their place, Ji So-Yun and Beth England joined the action. Emma Hayes signalled her intent to attack and it paid off just 60 seconds later.

Charles played in England who crossed. Her initial delivery couldn’t find Harder but Kerr laid off to Cuthbert. The Scot’s effort was blocked and the ball bounced into the air. As it came back down, a venomous left-foot volley from Sam Kerr sent it screaming into the net. 2-2 and Kingsmeadow roared again.

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On the 51st minute, the title race swung again, the time in the Blues’ favour. In her final WSL appearance, Ji brilliantly intercepted Thomas’s forward pass. The South Korean played a stunning pass to release Harder, breaking the lines in addition to taking 6 United players out of the equation. The Dane drove into the box and played a simple pass back to Guro Reiten. The Norwegian winger – Chelsea Women Supporters’s Groups Player of the Year – slotted across goal into the corner. 3-2. Suddenly, Blue was the colour on the trophy ribbons again. Hayes looked to bolster the defence after, bringing on Aniek Nouwen for a tired Niamh Charles.

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Jackie Groenen almost spoiled the party with a bizarre cross-shot that clipped the post. In contrast, Sam Kerr ensured the champagne corks could pop early in style in the 66th minute. Pernille Harder pressed Earps into a panicked clearance. The stopper could only find Reiten, who headed onto Sam Kerr. The Australian at the peak of her powers demonstrated currently why she is the WSL’s outstanding player. A superb chest control was followed by another stunning volley. It dipped and curved into the net, embarrassing a stranded, scrambling Earps. Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United.

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A Fond Farewell

Jessie Fleming replaced Harder who in turn became Chief Cheerleader rousing fans on a lap of Kingsmeadow as the minutes ticked down. The most poignant moment came in dying embers. Matchwinner Sam Kerr was replaced to a thunderous standing ovation. Equally loud was the cheer for the player entering. Drew Spence’s 12 years at Chelsea ended in style. 239 appearances, 50 goals. She has seen it all and lived it all.

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The final whistle was greeted with jubilation and celebration. Despite chasing for a lot of the season, Emma Hayes’s Chelsea FC are once again Champions of the WSL. Three titles in a row is an unprecedented achievement.

Full Time: Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United

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Final Thoughts: Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United

254 days ago, Chelsea started their season with a controversial loss to Arsenal. Today, they got one over their North London rivals. Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United was a dramatic, tense and turbulent final match. Only once Sam Kerr’s second stunner nestled in the net, could fans truly relax.

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Emma Hayes deserves tremendous credit for this triumph. She has utilised her squad effectively, rotating to minimise fatigue. So many players can claim to have been integral parts in their title. It was telling that Chelsea could boast five different goalscorers across their last 3 WSL matches. There are threats everywhere across the pitch. Sam Kerr has led the line with distinction and rightly claims the Golden Boot. But Bethany England, Guro Reiten, Pernille Harder, Fran Kirby, Erin Cuthbert and Jessie Fleming also have all chipped in.

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At the other end, Magda Eriksson’s injury mid-season would have de-railed previous campaigns. At times during the first half of Chelsea 4-2 Manchester United she was shaky too. However, the Blues have been able to call on the imperious defensive talents of Jess Carter, Millie Bright and Aniek Nouwen at other times. Jonna Andersson, Niamh Charles, Maren Mjelde have all chipped in too. In goal, both Berger and Musovic have impressed this season.

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The Blues sign off their season next weekend. They have a chance to make it a domestic double, and get revenge against Manchester City Women in the FA Cup Final. Here’s hoping Chelsea Blue is the Colour again.


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