Chelsea vs Arsenal: Emma Hayes says title race is ‘far from over’ as she downplays the importance of London derby11 Feb, 2022
A crucial London derby between reigning champions Chelsea and league leaders Arsenal takes place in the Women’s Super League tomorrow.
The game is set to attract a bumper crowd to Kingsmeadow and many have been calling it a title decider already.
However Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has downplayed the importance of the fixture when it comes to deciding who lifts the trophy.
Speaking ahead of the game she said: “Even after this weekend it’s still going to be a tight race until the end because there’s so many top opponents.
“It’s very difficult to call an outcome on what an end result will be, this is what we want for the league. We don’t want a situation where it’s just a two horse race and it isn’t.”
The last time the two sides faced each other in the league was on the opening day.
Arsenal clinched a 3-2 victory in that game so the Blues will be hoping to get their revenge and have the chance to move top with a win.
Ji So-yun returns to the Chelsea squad following the conclusion of the Asian Cup and will hope to bring her international form with her.
She was described as an ‘instrumental’ player by Hayes who seemed delighted to have her back.
Blues captain Magdelena Eriksson is still out through injury but Hayes said her presence was still felt in the team.
“While she’s going through a difficult moment personally with her injury she’s still playing an important role as captain behind the scenes.”
Arsenal’s Kate McCabe will serve her one match suspension after being sent off against Manchester United.
Stina Blackstenius could also start for the first time in the WSL after impressing and scoring the equaliser last time out.
Chelsea Women possible starting lineup:
Berger; Nouwen, Bright, Carter; Reiten, Andersson, Ingle, Cuthbert; Harder, Kerr, Kirby
Arsenal Women possible starting lineup:
Zinsberger; Catley, Williamson, Beattie, Maritz; Maanum, Walti, Little; Blackstenius, Miedema, Mead
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Arsenal