WSL: Arsenal face Chelsea challenge
PUBLISHED: 13:30 06 January 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal return to WSL action with a trip to Spring Series champions and currently unbeaten Chelsea on Sunday.
There is much to play for as second plays third, with the Blues looking to keep pace with leaders Manchester City while the Gunners can go level with their London rivals with victory at the Kingsmeadow Stadium.
Chelsea have been nearly perfect this season so far, the only game they have not won being a draw with Reading back in November.
They are also into the Champions League quarter-finals, the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup semi-finals, having downed Liverpool in ruthless fashion just before Christmas, and the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
The Gunners, meanwhile, have hit the ground running under new boss Joe Montemurro, downing Sunderland before Christmas.
They have only lost two games all season, to league leaders Man City at the start of the season and to Reading in the Continental Tyres Cup back in November.
Last year in the Spring Series the London rivals played out a dramatic 2-2 draw that saw both sides score in stoppage time.
But it was Arsenal who claimed the bragging rights in their biggest meeting in 2016, Danielle Carter’s strike winning them the FA Cup final at Wembley at Chelsea’s expense.
Fran Kirby notched a hat-trick in Chelsea’s last game before the Christmas break as they comfortably saw off Liverpool in the Continental Tyres Cup quarter-finals.
And with competition for places in the Chelsea starting XI so strong, the England forward knows she will need to continue that sort of form to be sure of her place. Kirby has five goals in her last two games and will take some stopping on Sunday.
Arsenal midfielder Leah Williamson said: “As far as the table is, this weekend’s result will determine where we are going forwards. We haven’t had the best of starts in the league, it’s not been the Arsenal standard we expect.
“Chelsea are a great attacking team so our defensive game has to be spot on.
“There will be so much talent going forward in both teams so we will both be looking to push each other back a bit.
“They have been proving week in, week out, that they can score goals so we know what they are capable of if we don’t perform.
“For us it’s a case that you don’t have to pick yourself up until you’re down. We’ve been working hard to now hopefully it’s really going to start to come together.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Joe (Montemurro) since he has come in. He’s been giving us a lot of information and has fitted in really well.”
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