Chelsea Women: Mid-season review

This weekend’s round of matches signalled the halfway point of the 2020/21 FAWSL season. Every team should have played 10 matches, with 10 more to go after they return in January. However, Covid events have conspired to warp the matches played column of the table. Chelsea sit third, undefeated, and having played two fewer games than league leaders Manchester United.

Nevertheless, the girls are still getting the extended break over Christmas and New Year. Which is the perfect opportunity to look at how they’ve been going.

Goalkeepers

Ann-Katrin Berger – 7 Starts, 4 Clean Sheets, 0.571 Save%.

Carly Telford – 1 Start, 0.500 Save%.

Chelsea’s goalkeepers haven’t had a great deal to do so far this season. In fact, the only time Ann-Katrin Berger has made more than one save in a match was the 3-2 win against West Ham.

The goalkeepers’ performace so far this season is difficult to gauge. The small number of shots on Chelsea’s goal leaves the combined save percentage at a league low 0.556. But at the same time, the four clean sheet is the equal most.

In addition to Berger and Telford, manager Emma Hayes has brought in 24 year-old Swedish stopper Zećira Mušović. Mušović will join the squad in January.

Defenders

Maren Mjelde – 8 Starts, 38.5% Tackle Success, 4 Interceptions, 2 Goals, 1 Assist.

Magdalena Eriksson – 8 Starts, 60% Tackle Success, 2 Interceptions

Millie Bright – 7 Starts, 33.3% Tackle Success, 14 Interceptions, 1 Goal, 1 Assist.

Jonna Andersson – 7 Starts, 71.4% Tackle Success, 4 Interceptions, 1 Assist.

Hannah Blundell – 1 Start.

Maria Thorisdottir – 1 Start.

Jessica Carter – 2 Appearances.

The back four has been settled from the start of the season and they’ve conceded a league low five goals from the eight matches. Seeing the teamsheet with Maren Mjelde at right back, Jonna Andersson on the left and Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Bright in the middle every week is somewhat comforting.

While Mjelde pushes forward and Bright looks to cut off passes, the Swedish pair of Eriksson and Andersson have proved particularly impressive defensively.

Millie Bright has formed a formidable partnership with Magdalena Eriksson. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: FOOTBALL.LONDON

Midfielders

Melanie Leupolz – 8 Starts, 82.5% Pass Completion, 7 Interceptions, 1 Goal, 1 Assist.

Ji So-Yun – 7 Starts, 83.2% Pass Completion, 8 Interceptions, 1 Goal.

Erin Cuthbert – 6 Starts, 76.9% Pass Completion, 5 Interceptions, 1 Goal, 3 Assists.

Sophie Ingle – 4 Starts. 78.7% Pass Completion, 2 Interceptions.

Niamh Charles – 4 Appearances, 72.7% Pass Completion, 1 Goal, 1 Assist.

Jessie Fleming – 3 Appearances.

Drew Spence – 1 Appearance.

The midfield has been notably more unsettled than the defence. This is the result of a bit a reshuffle after the first few matches. Melanie Leupolz came straight in and made the holding midfield spot her own, while Ji So-Yun has slotted back alongside her. Ji’s move to a more defensive role has shifted Sophie Ingle out of the starting lineup with Erin Cuthbert taking the attacking midfielder position formerly held by Ji.

Niamh Charles has proven to be a handy weapon off the bench. Her four substitute appearances have only totalled 72 minutes, yet she still has a goal and an assist to her name.

21 year-old midfielder Niamh Charles is growing into the team nicely. More of the same in the second half of the season would be grand. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: WE AIN’T GOT NO HISTORY

Forwards

Fran Kirby – 6 Starts, 3 Goals, 4 Assists.

Sam Kerr – 5 Starts, 7 Goals.

Bethany England – 5 Starts, 3 Goals, 2 Assists.

Pernille Harder – 5 Starts, 1 Goal, 3 Assists.

Guro Reiten – 2 Starts.

It has taken a little while for the forward line to gel, and for Hayes to settle on her preferred lineup. Fran Kirby has returned from her season long absence as if she was never away. Pernille Harder started strong, but has fallen away slightly. While Bethany England and Sam Kerr have found some form late in the year. Kerr’s form highlighted by her hat-trick against West Ham.

Crucially in all eight matches so far, the team has not been held scoreless.

Fran Kirby is the same as before she had to stop playing. Lively, energetic and – most importantly – productive. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: SINCE 71

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