Man City Women will travel to Kingsmeadow on Sunday for their first game of the new FA WSL season against reigning league holders Chelsea FC Women.
The Blues, who played Emma Hayes’s side four times last season, managed to come away with a win in the Continental Cup semi-final, two draws in the FA WSL and a loss in the FA Cup. City didn’t win any silverware last season and will be looking to get off to a good start in the race to win back the league title.
Hayes, who welcomed son Harry in May, lost several key players including captain Katie Chapman, Gilly Flaherty and Claire Rafferty, who had been at the club for ten years. She wasted no time in signing new players and Everton goalkeeper Lizzie Durack was her first, closely followed by Wales captain Sophie Ingle, both who had played for the London club before; Jess Carter then signed from Birmingham City Women, Ali Riley from FC Rosengård and Adelina Engman from Göteborg.
It wasn’t just new signings the manager was able to secure in the transfer window, star striker Fran Kirby, Scottish youngster Erin Cuthbert and defenders Millie Bright and Magdalena Eriksson all signed new three year contracts.
Emma also won the FA WSL Manager of the Year, Chelsea the WSL Team of the Year and the club had 5 players in the FA WSL 1 Team of the Year. But Hayes wasn’t finished with awards yet, as she was nominated for the FIFA Best Women’s Coach, losing out on the final nomination to Lyon’s Reynald Pedros, Japan head coach Asako Takakura and the Netherlands Euro winning manager; Sarina Wiegman.
Chelsea played three pre-season friendlies against European clubs: Montpellier HSC, FC Barcelona and Juventus Women; losing 3-2 in France, drawing 1-1 with Barcelona and beating Juventus 3-0 at home.
On the international side of things, Chelsea have 20 senior team players with eight different countries represented. Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl broke the record for the most caps won by a keeper for Sweden while Erin Cuthbert was one of the youngest players at last years European Championships. The side boasts eight senior England players, with the next highest representation coming from Sweden, with Lindahl, Eriksson and Jonna Andersson all playing for the Scandinavian country.
In contrast to City, the club have less English players if you include youth team players that play for the first team of the club, however the standard of the team and the strength in depth is something that definitely helped them win silverware last year.
Going into this game, Chelsea have Kirby, Anita Asante and Ali Riley injured while City have almost a full squad available par Megan Campbell, Pauline Bremer and Demi Stokes; as they are the only players recovering from injuries. Both clubs will have welcomed players back to the fold in the past few days ahead of the game this weekend and both team wills be looking to get a head start.
Kick-off is at 2pm at Kingsmeadow.