After having to postpone their last game before the break due to an outbreak of Covid-19 within and around their squad, reigning champions Chelsea are ready to try to minimize the gap of points to Arsenal and Manchester United at the top of the table.
The first hurdle the London team have to manage is Reading FC, one of five teams that have had the luck to play all scheduled fixtures as planned so far.
The game kicks off at Madjeski Stadium at 14:00 GMT.
The Royals ended up with a comfortable 3-1 win against Brighton before the break. That left Reading placed in the middle of the table and head coach Kelly Chambers said;
“I'm pleased for the girls. The performances have been magnificent, they've just not been able to turn them into wins. It's been a transition year for us in terms of the players, we've been bedding in and improving. We want to step into 2021 and turn good performances into wins."
Chelsea, have had time to recover from an outbreak of Covid-19 during the Christmas break, are ready to fight to keep their 29 league games in a row without a loss intact. Sunday's game can give the Blues their 30th WSL victory in a row.
When the Blues welcomed Benfica to Kingsmeadow for the second leg in the UEFA Women’s Champions League on December 15th, we saw the first start of the season for long-term injured fullback Hannah Blundell, who made her first start of the season.
Ahead of this game Emma Hayes’ made it clear that her team is ready to play again after this break, that turned longer than expected. Talking to the Chelsea website Hayes said:
“I have huge respect for Kelly Chambers and her staff and they’ve got quality throughout their ranks and good experience. They finished 2020 with a win against Brighton and they were unfortunate in the game before against Manchester United to not come away with something. They have found a formula which is working for them and it shows in recent performances.”
Leine, Cooper, Bartrip, Woodham
James, Fishlock, Williams, Harding
Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson
Kirby, Harder, Reiten
Ones to watch
Jess Fishlock is definitely one to keep an eye on in Reading’s line up. In the Royal’s win against Brighton in the last round she netted twice. The midfielder has a huge impact on Reading’s way to attack and if she doesn’t create danger with her own shots on target she’ll find ways to set up her teammates in good opportunities that can cause Chelsea’s backline trouble.
After a rough start according to the critics, Australia international and Matilda’s captain, Sam Kerr, has found her form. Out of Chelsea’s eight played league games the Aussie has scored 7 goals. Sam Kerr has definitely found her feet and together with Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder, there seem to be a lot more to come from the trio’s collaboration on the pitch.
When these two were up against each last time around in the WSL on January 5th, Sam Kerr made her debut and got her first win together with the Blues. It was an eventful clash with the Aussie being tackled with bad timing when goalkeeper Grace Moloney tried to clear the ball in front of Reading’s penalty area after Fara Williams having put the Royal’s into an early lead. That incident, however unfortunately for the guests, ended up in a red card for Moloney. The game ended 3-1 to Chelsea with goals being scored by Beth England, Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert.
How to watch
This match, being the only WSL game this weekend, will be broadcasted in several countries across the world:
UK - BBC Red Button
Italy and Germany - Atafootball.com
Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland - ViaPlay 14:55 CET
The US - NBCS
New Zealand - SparkSport
Australia - Optus Sport
The rest of the world will be able to watch on the FA Player.