Birmingham v Chelsea

A very important win for Birmingham that keep their unbeaten status allow them to climb up the table and join the Champions League battle with Bristol, Liverpool and Chelsea. There are currently 4 teams vying for those positions and with Everton and Arsenal looking for a win this week to join up the race.

3 good goals scored yesterday :
Birmingham scored 12 seconds into the second half as Chelsea were sleeping. The ball went to the right wing to Linnett who passed it on the edge of the area to Christiansen who went round a defender and fired it low past Telford.
Then Potter hit a missile from 30 yards with the strangest build up to the goal : Chelsea were playing from the back with a center back playing to their midfield, the referee with one perfect unvoluntary angled touch put it straight into Potter’s path and took out the whole Chelsea team at the same time. Potter had time and space to unleash a rocket in the top corner.
You won’t see many goals this season that will be better than this one.
Chelsea got one back via FA WSL debutante Hannah Blundell who got a pass from Dani Buet on the corner edge of the penalty area, she managed to beat a defender and had a powerful shot from 15 yards.

Birmingham had the predicted line-up with Harrop replacing the long term injured Unitt at left back with Westwood coming at center back. Up front the 3 youngsters were deployed Linnett, Christiansen and Lawley behind Williams or “Big willy” as she gets called from the touchline.
Hourihan, Weston Bassett Westwood Harrop, Moore Potter, Linnett Christiansen Lawley, Williams.

Chelsea made a few changes with Carly Telford back after her injury problems. A couple of players moved positions or were dropped from the Liverpool game :
Telford, Susi Davies Holtham Vidarsdottir, Gadarsdottir Buet, Bleazard Lander Aluko Jakobssson.
As usual a very attacking line-up from Emma Hayes with 2 wingers and 2 center forward.

In the first half, the two teams were semi-direct to direct in their approach to the game with Birmingham pressing high on the pitch. There were a few half chances and shot but nothing super conclusive as both side defender well enough to keep a clean sheet at half time. Birmingham using the wingers and Williams’ pace to try to run behind Chelsea’s defence. While Chelsea seemed to be playing with a handbrake in term of build up attacking football and relying on 2nd ball wins to find space and opportunities.

All that changed in the 2nd half with the early goal and the game became more open with more commitment going forward on the ball. And when the second goal was scored in curious fashion the game opened totally and it was the classic attack v defense with Birmingham defending deep and hitting on the break.

In term of sub used, Torkildsen replaced the tired Linnett as expected and Wilkinson came on for the injured Williams. Ester came on early in the second half for Gadarsdottir, Spence on Bleazard to give a better balance in the central midfield area and Blundell for Vidarsdottir at left back. The latter move immediately paid dividend with a goal.

It looks like Birmingham has now more or less found a settled starting 11 with the only change in the future being Carney for one of the 3 youngsters. Speaking of Carney, she is still very much a doubt for the Euros with her ankle ligaments injury.

Chelsea still seems to be rotating players in the starting 11 and the best line-up is not there yet. What was noticeable at the game is some players are not really performing well and the attacking duo Ward-Aluko has 2 similar players and it does seem to work well alongside 2 wingers. I wonder why Longhurst does not get a game alongside one of those 2 girls with her different center forward profile. No doubt Ogimi will be starting in the 2nd half of the season (if she is signed).

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