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Women’s Super League Title Contenders Manchester City And Chelsea Go Head-To-Head

Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City side welcome last year’s league winners Chelsea to the Joie Stadium in WSL’s second matchday of the 2023/24 season.

Both teams come into this clash after wins in Matchday One as City won 2-0 away at West Ham and Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

City had a slow start with a goalless first-half, but shortly after half-time, Lauren Hemp broke the deadlock with a beautiful shot from the edge of the box that curled over Mackenzie Arnold and into the top left corner.

Jill Roord netted another goal not long after in her debut for the club, and despite being reduced to 10 players after Leila Ouahabi was sent off in the 71st minute, City showed a strong defensive display to keep them in the game and claim the three points. 

Up there as favourites to win the league, Chelsea came out looking somewhat shaky against Spurs, and at times, they looked out of control and lacked the discipline in defence that we are so used to seeing there.

Nevertheless, Emma Hayes’ side found a way to win, scoring 28 minutes in, when American forward Mia Fishel scored from a cross into the box from Niamh Charles.

Another Charles assist generated Chelsea’s second goal when Lauren James slotted the ball home with a close-range volley. Martha Thomas halved the deficit 10 minutes later as she capitalised on a spilt ball from Chelsea’s goalkeeper Zećira Mušović, however, the hosts held on to get the win.

Both teams will be looking for a more comprehensive performance this weekend, but if last year is anything to go by, this game really could go either way.

Looking back at the two teams’ most recent meeting in last year’s WSL, it was City that came away with the win and they were one of only two teams to beat Chelsea last season.

The Citizens put on an impressive performance in front of a home crowd with goals coming from Swedish international Filippa Angeldahl and England’s young talent Lauren Hemp.

On the other hand, Chelsea looked tired and disconnected in their passes and in their organisation defensively. They will be looking to rectify that this year whilst City will want to continue their winning streak against the Blues.  

Gareth Taylor has the unique perspective in that he knows how to win against the top side and he will no doubt employ similar tactics this time around.

Despite not having many changes to his side this year, the addition of Roord in midfield will certainly pose Chelsea some challenges, especially when she links up with Hemp and Chloe Kelly as they are a fast trio who can all shoot from range.

Defensively, City will be without left-back Leila Ouahabi who received a red card in their match against West Ham. However, City do have plenty of talent they can bring off the bench and slot into defence. One big name is Steph Houghton who has a wealth of experience in high-stakes matches.

Chelsea do have some hidden weapons that could bolster this week’s squad with Hayes suggesting that we could see the return of both Sam Kerr and Erin Cuthbert to the matchday squad.

While Chelsea didn’t have a bad game last weekend, the quality that these two players bring is undeniable. They are both so calm on the ball, creative in their passes and real goal-scoring threats.

At the back, the new addition of Ashley Lawrence is promising and her and Millie Bright’s connection will only grow stronger as the season progresses as the pair will need to be strong in stopping City’s strong attacking force.

This will be a historic match for another reason as City play their first home game in the newly named Joie Stadium. Last month, Manchester City Women became the first club in the Barclays Women’s Super League to secure a commercial agreement for its stadium naming rights. What was previously known as the Academy Stadium will now be named Joie Stadium after the baby gear brand joined a multi-year partnership with the club.

The match will be shown on BBC Two on October 8th at 12:30 so make sure to tune in to what is one of the biggest matches of the season between two title contenders.  

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