Berger Makes Strong Comeback, Reiten And James Impressive
The Chelsea goalkeeper was back in the starting XI just 33 days after announcing she’d have to step away from the game due to a recurrence of thyroid cancer.
Berger was at her absolute best against Man City, producing a string of fine saves to deny the visitors. Undoubtedly the standout was the first-half stop to deny Laura Coombs.
The ball looped to the back post and the City winger was unmarked and volleyed toward the corner, yet Berger got down instinctively and deflected the ball onto the post via her right leg.
The versatile Norwegian was deployed at right-back by Emma Hayes and was composed on the ball and solid defensively.
Mjelde rarely advanced into the final third but backed up Lauren James effectively when required. Converted from the penalty spot to give Chelsea breathing space.
A first Women’s Super League outing at Kingsmeadow for Chelsea’s summer signing – and she was perhaps lucky not to give away a dangerous free-kick early into the game after bringing down Bunny Shaw.
There were also a couple of loose passes played by the Canadian but she grew into the game and played an important role in the Blues keeping a clean sheet.
Bright doesn’t wear the captain’s armband for Chelsea but is very much a leader on the pitch for the Blues.
Chelsea’s skipper offered more of an attacking threat from wing-back than Mjelde and did well to curtail the threat of Laura Coombs.
Played a role in the build-up to the penalty that Mjelde converted to set the Blues on their way to their first three points of the WSL campaign.
Used on the right of a midfield four, James’ influence grew as the match progressed.
Her ability to take the ball under pressure, roll away from a defender and open up the pitch was showcased on several occasions and she came close to scoring with a curled effort that went narrowly wide.
These opening matches of the campaign are very much about James settling into the Chelsea side after using her debut campaign to adjust to life at the club.
Chelsea won this game because of their central midfield and wide players.
A lot of her work wasn’t eye-catching, but she covered the pitch to close down space and never shirked a challenge.
It was Fleming who strode forward to collect the ball in the build-up to Kirby’s opening goal. Another very impressive display from the 24-year-old.
Cuthbert was instrumental in Chelsea controlling midfield as she snapped into tackles to reclaim the ball and kept it moving to sustain pressure in the City half. Has become a very important part of Hayes’ side.
The standout Chelsea attacker in the first half was Reiten. Every time the 28-year-old received the ball, she caused Kerstin Casparij a problem with her direct running or smart passing.
It was no surprise that she had a role in Kirby’s goal, squaring the ball across the box for the England international to tap home. This certainly wasn’t Kirby at her best, but she still had an impact in the final third.
She should’ve got on the scoresheet early on after being set-up by Sam Kerr, but saw her goalward shot saved. Kirby made up for that soon after as she converted after being found by Reiten 12 yards out.
Chelsea’s prolific forward didn’t have too much to work with during the opening period; her only major involvement came after she capitalised on a Steph Houghton mistake and teed up Kirby, whose scuffed shot was clear on its way to goal.
Kerr was a willing worker throughout but wasn’t given an opportunity to get on the scoresheet. Freshened up central midfield and came close with a volley that was tipped over.