Chelsea Women welcome Manchester United to Kingsmeadow in the Women's Super League on Sunday, in the first ever meeting between the pair.
Chelsea sit top of the pile and are undefeated this season, only dropping points in a draw at Brighton. Their win over reining champions Arsenal in October was a real statement of intent from Emma Hayes' side.
A victory on Sunday will be a real boost to Chelsea's title chances. Their closest title rivals, Manchester City and Arsenal, both recorded narrow wins over United during the opening two rounds of league fixtures. The Blues will be expected to follow suit if they are to be crowned WSL champions this season.
However, taking three points off United will be no easy task. Casey Stoney's side have taken to life in the top tier like a duck to water. After being edged out by Manchester City and Arsenal in their first two league games, they have won five on the bounce in all competitions.
A win on Sunday would take United within one point of league leaders Chelsea. A fantastic fixture awaits as two of the best sides in the country go toe to toe.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Sunday 17 November|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||14:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Kingsmeadow|
|TV Channel/Live Stream||The FA Player|
Chelsea's title bid received a substantial lift this week as they announced the signing of highly rated striker Sam Kerr. However, the Australian international will not be available until January.
Fran Kirby was left out of the recent England squad after Phil Neville judged her to be lacking in fitness and confidence. Similarly, Emma Hayes admitted that Kirby's club and country need to protect her after the 26-year-old has suffered a selection of serious injuries in recent seasons. Whether she is ready to be thrown in from the start on Sunday, remains to be seen.
Manchester United have a fully fit squad, and have the added benefit that very few of their players featured for their national teams over the international break. Kirsty Hanson, Mary Earps and Jackie Groenen were the only first team regulars to play for their country, leaving Casey Stoney with a fit and fresh squad to choose from.
|Chelsea||Berger; Mjelde; Bright; Ericsson; Andersson; Ingle; Cuthbert; Reiten; Ji; Bachmann; England.|
|Manchester United||Earps; A. Turner; McManus; M. Turner; Harris; Ladd; Zelem; Galton; Groenen; Hanson; James.|
Head to Head Record
Manchester United only formed in 2018, and this is their first season in the top flight. United and Chelsea avoided each other in last season's cup competitions, meaning Sunday's clash is the first ever meeting between the two sides.
Both teams go into Sunday's fixture in a rich vein of form. Chelsea are unbeaten in all competitions this season, and have won four out of five in the WSL.
The Blues have scored more goals than anyone else in the league this season, with Ji So Yun, Beth England and Guro Reiten in particularly formidable form. The former's winning goal against West Ham in Chelsea's last WSL outing was absolutely top class.
United haven't lost since their narrow defeat to Arsenal on the second weekend of the season. They have won five on the bounce in all competitions since that loss, scoring 12 and conceding zero.
Casey Stoney's side have quickly found their feet in the WSL, and look capable of challenging the league's top sides despite this being only their second season in existence.
Here's a look at their last five outings.
|Lewes 1-2 Chelsea||Everton 0-3 Man Utd|
|West Ham 1-3 Chelsea||Man Utd 2-0 Reading|
|Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea||Man Utd 2-0 Man City|
|Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal||Tottenham 0-3 Man Utd|
|Bristol City 0-4 Chelsea||Man Utd 2-0 Liverpool|
Both teams have been excellent so far this season and are thoroughly entertaining to watch. With the wealth of attacking talents on display - from the pace of Leah Galton down the Manchester United flank, to the skill and intelligence of Ji in the heart of the Chelsea midfield - both teams have players capable of creating something special.
Chelsea should just about edge Sunday's fixture due to their experience and home advantage. Having already beaten an Arsenal side who looked pretty unbeatable at Kingsmeadow earlier on in the season, you would expect them to have enough about them to do the same to Manchester United.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United