Women’s Super League 2022-23 previews No 4: Chelsea | Chelsea Women

The plan

Chelsea claimed their third consecutive Women’s Super League title last season, chasing, matching and finally usurping Arsenal in the final stretch.

They operated in the Gunners’ shadow for more than half the season. But when Arsenal lapsed against Birmingham, the unlikeliest of opponents to be beaten by, Chelsea took advantage to propel themselves to another title.

This season there is no doubt Emma Hayes has eyes on more than domestic glory. Last season’s discouraging Champions League campaign means there is work to be done. Chelsea’s exit at the group stage after losing at Wolfsburg, where they had no response to four goals, revealed an inability to shore up midfield gaps and prevent high-pressing teams from wreaking havoc.

Results

Cast your mind back to the season before where the Blues made it to the final and were rocked by five goals from Barcelona; you may remember similar issues in the knockout stages against Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich.

Hayes has been ruthless in seeking to resolve those problems, evident in Chelsea’s summer transfer business.

Enter stage right: former Lyon defender Kadeisha Buchanan, France’s Ève Périsset, wing-back Katerina Svitkova, Swedish powerhouse Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Serbian pass-master Jelena Cankovic – signings that Hayes claims “fit the profile Chelsea were looking for”.

They may take time to gel, and that much was evident in Chelsea’s pre-season defeat by Lyon in the Champions Cup. But if anyone can bring calm to the chaos in September’s games, it is Hayes.