Chelsea’s womens’ team set a new record for not losing a match in 32 league games when they defeated Aston Villa 4-0. They then backed it up with another 4-0 win over Tottenham to make it 33. The win takes them to the top of the table, level on 32 points with Manchester United but with a game in hand.
This achievement becomes even more impressive when you take into account the improvement in the standard across the league, the influx of foreign talent, and the effects of Covid and postponements.
In December, we did a mid-season review of the players. But there is much more to the success of the squad.
Emma Hayes joined Chelsea in 2012 and has since led them to three FA WSL titles, two FA Cups and a League Cup. Though last season – and into this season – is where the team has really come together. The last time Chelsea lost a league match was on the 29th of January, 2019. Something to be said about having patience with a manager.
As well this season, Chelsea have been competing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Their last matchup was an 8-0 aggregate win against Benfica. The draw for their Round of 16 opponents will take place on February 16.
The 44 year-old’s achievements at Chelsea have not gone unnoticed. EFL League One club AFC Wimbledon were reportedly interested in making Hayes the first ever woman to manage a professional, English men’s team. Hayes however turned the role down, electing to stay with Chelsea.
Chelsea have a deep squad. The back four is settled, with Maren Mjelde, Magdalena Eriksson, Millie Bright and Jonna Andersson forming an almost permanent line. But the midfield and up front have been rotated, and rotated well.
In attack, Australian Sam Kerr has led the line from the start nine times out of 12 matches. And Fran Kirby has been back to her best out wide. Aside from those two, Hayes has been able to turn to Pernille Harder, Beth England, Guro Reiten and Niamh Charles.
Even in the unlikely and unfortunate event that there is no Leupolz and Kerr, there is still plenty of quality in the squad.
The matches keep coming. Perhaps this could be considered a challenge, but it has certainly benefitted Chelsea. Between the FA WSL, the Continental Cup and the UEFA Womens Champions League Chelsea have played 18 matches since the start of the season in September. There is also the Vitality Women’s FA Cup coming up, which Chelsea will join in from the 4th round.
This consistent stream of matches allows the squad to develop together and really show of their strengths in depth and energy.