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MATCH INFO:

Chelsea vs Everton

Kingsmeadow, London, United Kingdom

Kickoff: November 8th, 2020, at 7:00 a.m. EST

WHERE TO WATCH: The FA Player

The WSL is back this weekend after a cracking FA Cup final, and the continuation of the Conti Cup group stages earlier in the week. While many eyes will be watching whether Manchester United can break league leaders Arsenal’s perfect streak of five wins out of five, Everton taking on Chelsea at home is a match with the potential to shake up the top of the league.

Chelsea currently sits in fourth place having played just four matches. They’ve won three and drawn once, tying 1-1 with Manchester United. Any other team might be satisfied with fourth at this point in the season, but for Chelsea, the perennial expectations are to be at the top of the league. Since Emma Hayes came in as manager back in 2012, they have won the league three times, including last season. The high profile additions of Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder have only heightened the sense that it’s championship-or-bust for Chelsea. Given that every team above them in the table has played an additional fifth match, a win against Everton would go a long way in squarely putting the club in the thick of the title chase.

Everton’s season, in contrast, has already exceeded expectations. They currently sit in second place, with five matches played, four wins, and one draw. Their 13 points are tied with Manchester United, but they lead on goal difference.

Willie Kirk, who has been in charge since 2018, has molded his side into a competitive team that have a chance of breaking the dominance that Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City have over the league. The last time a team outside of the three won a league title was back in 2014, when Liverpool won their second title. Although they lost the FA Cup final against Manchester City, Everton pushed the defending champions to extra time, and they will use this upcoming match against Chelsea as an opportunity to show that her hot start has been anything but a fluke.

A big blow for Chelsea will be the loss of Fran Kirby. Hayes announced before Chelsea’s match against Tottenham Hotspur in the Conti Cup that Kirby would be out for weeks following an ankle injury during a training match with England. So far this season, Kirby has been the most creative player in the league, along with her Chelsea teammate Sam Kerr and Arsenal forward Beth Mead, all of whom have created seven chances created thus far.

Not only is she a massive creator for her team, but Kirby also carries a significant defensive load. Chelsea managed to comfortably beat Tottenham 2-0 without Kirby, but Everton will likely be a more formidable opponent. Despite having depth, Hayes now has a tough decision to make in regards to who she sees is best fit to play in her front three and get the better of Everton’s backline.

Chelsea isn’t the only team with injury concerns, as Kirk confirmed in his pre-match press conference that both Valerie Gauvin and Lucy Graham will sit out against Chelsea due to injuries they sustained during the FA Cup Final.

Gauvin will be a massive miss for Everton; she is the epitome of a poacher in front of the net, having scored three goals in five WSL matches, including Everton’s lone goal in the FA Cup Final.

A positive for Everton has to be the exceptional performances of Sandy MacIver thus far this season. Despite being on the losing team in the FA Cup Final, the goalkeeper was named Player of the Match after an exceptional outing between the posts. MacIver has also been a force in league play, facing 16 shots on target, yet only conceding three goals so far. Her excellent form will be crucial if Everton wants to hang with Chelsea at Kingsmeadow.

A lot is riding on this game for both teams, with much of it depending on the results of the Manchester United match against Arsenal. Chelsea has a chance to slot into third and a crucial Champions League spot. On the other hand, Everton has the opportunity to claim the top spot in the league ahead of Arsenal, delivering a statement to rest of the WSL as to their ambitions for the season.

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE FA WSL:

 

November 14th 

Manchester United vs Manchester City @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Aston Villa vs Birmingham City @ 9:30 a.m. EST

Everton vs Reading FC @ 11:30 a.m. EST

Bristol City vs Tottenham @ 1:30 p.m. EST

November 15th

West Ham vs Brighton & Hove Albion @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs Chelsea @ 9:30 a.m. EST

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