West Ham boss, Rehanne Skinner admits her team will face a difficult game against Emma Hayes’ Chelsea, but she is confident they will rise to the occasion in front of over 30,000 fans, and will look to build on their impressive home record. The Hammers enter the game in 11th place in the standings, one place and six points ahead of Bristol City, who presently occupy the single relegation slot. Since a thrilling victory against Arsenal at the start of February, the Hammers have played three games in the WSL without taking all three points. 

As for the visitors, Chelsea, led by their experienced manager Emma Hayes, have maintained their reputation as one of the top contenders in the league. With a squad brimming with talent and depth in every department, they come into the game off the back of a professional, mature 3-1 win against Champions League opponents Ajax in Amsterdam on Tuesday night. Following the February international break, the Blues have been in excellent form, winning five games in a row across four tournaments. And with 40 points from 16 league matches, the defending WSL winners enter the weekend in pole position thanks to a modest goal difference edge over second-placed Manchester City. 

The two teams have already played twice this season, with the Blues coming out on top both times despite strong performances from West Ham. With Hayes acknowledging that “they [West Ham] took us to 120 minutes in the cup, they beat Arsenal at home. They’ve competed well against top teams. They’re difficult and direct in their transitions,” adding, “I think she [Rehanne Skinner] is doing a good job.”

TEAM NEWS

WEST HAM

As for the Hammers team news, Rehanne Skinner announced that Kristie Mewis won’t be available this weekend. Stating, “When she came to us, she had recovered well from a tendon issue, but it’s had a bit of a setback, and, whilst she got some minutes when she first came to the club, it’s been a little bit of a challenge as of late.”

West Ham are also expected to be without midfielder Abbey-Leigh Stringer due to injury issues. However, Jess Ziu, the Republic of Ireland international, may return to the starting lineup after being dropped to the bench in the defeat to Liverpool. 

CHELSEA

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes named an unchanged side to face Ajax in the first leg of the Champions League. However, they have an extended list of injuries this late on in the season, which is understandable considering they are the only WSL team left in all four competitions this year. 

Mia Fishel and Sam Kerr are sidelined with ACL injuries, while a late decision on whether Nathalie Bjorn and Mayra Ramierz will be available. Hayes announced in her pre-match press conference that Ramirez and Bjorn had attended the training session, but only for “30 minutes,"  adding, “I don’t know [if they’ll be ready]. They will be in tomorrow, and we’ll assess from there.”

ONES TO WATCH

WEST HAM - Jess Ziu

Ziu is a versatile player who can play full-back, wing-back, or further up the pitch. She has previously represented her country at youth level, was voted FAI U16 Women’s International Player of the Year in 2018, before making her senior debut in a FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

However after a promising start to the 2022–23 season, she sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Conti Cup match against London City Lionesses in early October. But since then, 13 months later, she appeared against Bristol City in January, adding an assist to the sheet, with Skinner stating this week: “She’s a fantastic talent, and we’ve been really patient with the turnaround coming back from injury and the period of time she was out.”

Adding “I think she is going to go from strength to strength and is a young player with a lot of different attributes, and, with the confidence she gains within what we are trying to do and the way she can play, the better she will become.”


CHELSEA - Sjoke Nusken

One player who is expected to play a pivotal role for Chelsea is their dynamic women of the moment, Sjoke Nusken. The young German international, who arrived in the summer, has been a standout performer for the Blues recently, showcasing her versailtiy and creativity up and down the pitch. Nusken’s ability to control the tempo of the game, break up opposition attacks, and initiate attacking moves makes her a key player, scoring two vital goals in the last two games as an attacking player after previously playing at centre-back and contributing to a clean sheet in both. 

Chelsea boss, Emma Hayes payed tribute to the star in her pre-match press conference, assessing where she originally saw the player fit within her squad: “We saw her originally coming in as a six, Germany saw her as a centre-back, they made that very clear to me. I recruited her as an eight because I thought she had too much about her going forward.” Nusken is also known for cycling to training and home games with Hayes adding, “she’s really humble and hardworking. She cycles to work every day and in fact I nearly killed her at Kingsmeadow the other week with the way she flies around!”


 

LIKELY LINEUPS



WEST HAM

Arnold, Cissoko, Tysiak, Zadorsky, Shimiziu, Hayashi, Gorry, Smith, Snerle, Asseyi, Ueki.

CHELSEA

Hampton, Perisset, Carter, Buchanan, Charles, Cuthbert, Leupolz, Nusken, James, Reiten, Kaneryd.


 

HOW TO WATCH THE GAME

The game will be streamed live on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, and Sky Showcase. 

You can also follow the game via Chelsea Women’s social media channels. There will be live commentary on their Twitter page (@ChelseaFCW) and regular updates on Facebook and Instagram.