Chelsea Women battled from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Manchester City Women on Sunday. Despite rescuing a point, the result will probably work best for Arsenal Women. The draw leaves the Gunners just two points behind FAWSL leaders City with two games in hand. Chelsea remain in third, five points off the top two.
Chelsea went into this game with confidence, however. From the off, the FAWSL champions looked to show why they were champions. This was seen very early on as Chelsea’s game plan was clear. They aimed to press the hosts high up the pitch and force problems.
Despite City proving they are quite comfortable in playing out from the back under pressure, they were forced into a few mistakes. If anything, the opening exchanges were more encouraging for Chelsea as seen below.
Here we saw an example of Chelsea’s press at its best. Their forward players pressed as a unit and it made a difference. In this sequence, we can see Chelsea ended up committing four players which allowed them to stop City’s attack before it started.
It was a difficult game plan to execute but it was done well for the most part on Sunday. Even when City were able to keep the ball, it was hard for them to break Chelsea down.
Man City on the counter
Instead, City’s big chances came from turnovers in possession. Chelsea really imposed themselves on the game, both off the ball as shown above and on it, as they had 60% of possession across the game. However, being so imposing left space in behind for City to exploit on the counter. Both of City’s first-half goals came from Chelsea losing possession in their own half rather than fashioned chances.
This was also the case for City’s second goal. The ball was lost in midfield and they were able to turn Chelsea around before running what looked like a set pattern of play.
🤩 What’s better?
The hold-up play from @JillScottJS8
Chelsea ride their luck
In the second half, Chelsea continued to play a high line against City’s front three of Wulleart, Stanway and Parris. Although this allowed them to get back into the game, it could have lost them the game too. Chelsea’s approach was incredibly dangerous for the backline as City’s attacking trio were very fluid throughout the game.
As seen above they were more than happy to rotate around each other in attack. This made it incredibly hard for them to be picked up and with Chelsea playing a high line, they almost took advantage in the second half, both times through Nikita Parris.
She missed almost a carbon copy shortly after which hugely let Chelsea off the hook. It wasn’t just City spurning chances that kept Chelsea in the game though. Their goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl also pulled off some massively important saves. This was the pick of the bunch.
— The FA Women’s Super League (@FAWSL) February 11, 2019
Along with a bit of luck from Parris’ misses and skill from Lindahl, Chelsea’s constant pressure is what saw them rescue the game. They began the second half as they started the first, pressing from the front. England showed her intent throughout and this resulted in Chelsea’s first goal of the day.
Over the course of the game, Chelsea’s plan was very effective. They were able to stamp their authority on the match and if it hadn’t been for silly mistakes, they could have won. Thankfully for them, Ji stepped up again late on.
— The FA Women’s Super League (@FAWSL) February 10, 2019
As much of an encouragement as this game would have been for Chelsea, there’s no escaping the fact it would encourage Arsenal too. Chelsea’s performance showed that City can be dominated.
Having to play them in the Continental Cup final and the league, this could give Arsenal a great deal of confidence going into those games. However, with their next game against Chelsea this Sunday in the FA Cup, Joe Montemurro will have to prepare Arsenal for what can be a physically and mentally draining task.
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