Chelsea continued their unbeaten start to the season by thumping Aston Villa away from home. The Blues have now set a league record for 34 league matches without a loss, two years to the date since Chelsea tasted defeat.
It was a quickfire double around halfway through the second half for Chelsea that secured the win for Emma Hayes’ side. The first was particularly disappointing for new Villa boss Marcus Bignot as it came from yet another unforced defensive error. Anita Asante somewhat sullied her improved performance by softly placing a clearance at the feet of Guro Reiten. The Norwegian cut back to Pernille Harder who fired a tamed shot into the bottom corner from just outside the area.
Reiten was the provider once again just two minutes later as her free kick was floated into the back post and stabbed home by captain Magdalena Eriksson. Overall, it was a dominant and controlling performance from the visitors as they charge towards another Women’s Super League title.
- Story of the match
It was a lightning fast start to the game as Aston Villa’s poor run with early goals continuing. A weak defensive header away fell to the feet of Sam Kerr who rifled home a first time effort into the top right-hand corner. This came in just the third minute, being the third consecutive game Villa have conceded by that point.
Following Kerr’s opener, the game devolved into a rhythmic, dull affair as both sides cancelled each other out. Chelsea’s record signing Pernille Harder saw much of the ball and put in a good shift in midfield, but Villa’s Asante displayed some much needed improved form to cancel out much of Chelsea’s attacking threat.
Chelsea came close to doubling their lead after 15 minutes with a long range effort from Niamh Charles that rattled the crossbar, and this is where much of Chelsea’s threat came from. The three centre backs of Asante, Elisha N’Dow and Nat Haigh prevented Chelsea from simply running straight through them, but they struggled defending balls in from midfield and out wide.
The second goal came from one of the balls out wide. Sam Kerr turned from scorer into provider as she fizzed in a beautifully weighted ball from the right wing and Beth England rose like a phoenix to head home. The visitors came close from range again before half time, this time through Harder. The midfielder was shepherded into midfield by makeshift left back Shania Hayles, but she responded with an exquisitely hit shot from 30 yards that clipped the crossbar before going over.
There were encouraging signs from the hosts going forward for Villa, with Asmita Ale driving Villa forward from defence. When Villa shifted to a 4-4-2 halfway through the first half, the academy graduate was given more freedom to link up with Stine Larsen and Sophie Haywood down the right wing, though they couldn’t carve out a chance for the hosts.
It was a brighter start to the second half for the hosts. Ale continued her bright work from right back to frustrate Chelsea’s forward line and transition play from defence to attack much quicker. They carved out their first real chance of the game shortly after the restart, with a quick ball across goal just evading Nadine Hanssen. Larsen continued to use her power and aggression to force mistakes from the defenders, but was unable to create anything for herself.
Takeaways from the match
Chelsea are the best they have ever been
This win was Chelsea's 32nd consecutive WSL game unbeaten, setting a new record. This run contained a massive 25 wins, 105 goals and 60 different scorers. This form is a clear signal that the current Blues side is not only the best in the club's history, but one of the best sides in WSL history.
Aston Villa are their own worst enemy
Despite Chelsea dominating much of the ball, they struggled to break Villa down for much of the game. Their new system with three centre backs contained Chelsea well, but all of the goals came from poor defensive errors. The Villans are still adapting to life in the top tier, but their new boss must make stamping out cheap errors a priority.
Stars of the match
Picking a star for Villa is easy. Danish forward Stine Larsen put in a great shift up front despite being isolated for much of the game. All of Villa's positive play went through her, with her strength and hold-up play being Villa's only real out-ball.
In contrast, it's difficult to pick just one star, but the strongest candidate is Sam Kerr. The Australian striker put in another five-star performance up front for the Blues and drove her side forward in the first half.