WSL Preview: Chelsea

It is that time of year again that strikes fear into the  heart of every football fan. That’s right folks the transfer window is open! Well actually it has been open for a while but now the World Cup is over we can get excited about it, or run and head under the bed in dread. However you wish to deal with it.

Transfer Window definition. Noun: a period of time where your club can get rid of deadwood and bring in fresh new talent.

Actual definition: your club makes some dicey new signings in a panic on the final day and you pray they don’t get rid of the players who name is on your new £80 shirt. (standard practice for West Ham’s men’s team until recently).

In the Women’s league, it can be a little less dramatic, though ask any Birmingham City fans if their window has been smooth sailing. The response may result in you getting hit in the face with a pikelet. {Pikelet -Noun: – A crumpet or crumpet-like bread in areas of Great Britain}

Unlike in the male leagues, our players in our league don’t move around for the big bucks. Spoiler alert, it’s because there isn’t any. Players move for other prized aspects of the game instead: Game time, fellow teammates, playing for the club you’ve always supported or the prestige of playing European football.

The point of this post is to run down what the In’s and Outs, and how all this is going to shake up the league. Next up is the turn of Emma HayesChelsea.

‘Chelsea Chelsea, you ain’t got no history…’ I shall finish that fairly offensive chant there. Typical West Ham, if you have nothing nice to say, create a chant for fifty thousand to sing instead.

After having one of the most ridiculous and talked-about transfer windows back in January with “Goalkeeper-Gate”, where they appeared to be hoarding multiple international goalkeepers, just so no one else could. I mean, what team needs four premium goalkeepers in one squad? Well, Chelsea apparently… Carly Telford (England keeper), Lizzie Durack (England under 21s keeper), Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden keeper) and Ann-Katrin Berger (German keeper).

So after the busy last window, it’s been a little quieter down at Kingsmeadow. With only one transfer in and about seven out, it appears the coffers are closed for the West London team. I can only speculate that it’s because of the number of goalkeeper gloves they have to buy!

The only new face to grace the pensioners (genuine nickname, not me being mean) is Guro Reiten, a Norwegian International who was a prolific goal scorer for LSK Kvinner with 51 goals in 53 appearances. She is also a switch-hitter and could play in the central midfield or could be pushed forward to aid Fran Kirby in her traditional number 10 position.

On the outs were two unexpected retirements. Karen Carney and Lizzie Durack announced that they had each played their last game of football. After a slightly disappointing World Cup run, the Chelsea captain Carney decided to hang up the boots. Known as the wizard (or lizard if you are Claire Rafferty) for her unbelievable footwork, she had been a mainstay of the Chelsea line-up since her move from Birmingham in 2015. Kaz was one of those players you thought would play for forever. As she was one of the more prominent players when I was getting into the game, news of her retirement made me very sad. I don’t even want to know what I will be like when Ellen White calls it a day.

The second retirement is that of young goalkeeper Lizzie Durack. After not really being utilised at Chelsea (remember they had four) she has left to pursue a career in finance, which even in this economic climate is still a more stable career than Women’s football.

A more controversial move from the club was Hedvig Lindahl, the former Chelsea number one. It is still not clear if she jumped or if she was pushed. The story Chelsea are selling is she wanted to return home to her native Sweden, retire possibly, to spend quality time with her Missus.

A very sarcastic interview in the Swedish press and a move to Wolfsburg (spoiler: not in Sweden) has very much put paid to that. Her cards were marked with the transfer of Berger in January, now Chelsea are down to the standard issue number of goalkeepers.

The next shock departure was Ali Riley to Bayern Munich. The New Zealand captain had only recently moved to Chelsea and had only made nine appearances for the Blues, but it appears a new challenge and first-team football is needed. This is the problem I feel Chelsea are going to face; they are going to attract top-class players because they are Chelsea, however when you have enough players to fill two or even three squads you cannot expect to keep them all. No-one is going to sign to sit on a bench. (Unless you are Rob Green, then fair play to you).

Two players have gone over to the dark side. Well, Merseyside. Jade Bailey after a loan spell at Reading has made the jump to Liverpool and Molly Pike has moved over to Everton. Neither could really break into the Chelsea side on a regular basis, but hopefully with youth on their side a long prosperous career awaits them.

League Prediction: Winners

It pains me to say it. Like, it physically pains me. Emma Hayes admits she dropped the ball last season and screwed the start of their season up, I doubt she will make those mistakes again.

Though I do take great pleasure in the fact it was West Ham who put the nail in their automatic qualification to the Champions League last season.  Chelsea this season will amp everything up, and without the distraction of international football, Hayes will be able to put her all into the league. After all, many say that’s how Arsenal did it last year, and when you have enough players to field two to three squads then you should be able to get the rotation right. Failing that, just have Drew Spence break your opponents’ legs, both options work.