Emma Hayes out to make a Stamford Bridge Women’s Super League fortress | Football

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes will hope to be celebrating at Stamford Bridge (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal head to Stamford Bridge for a blockbuster clash under the Friday night lights which they can’t afford to lose if they are to stay in the Women’s Super League title race.

Three points separate the two sides in the table, with Arsenal in third and Chelsea top, level on points with Manchester City.

For Chelsea, the desire for revenge is in the air following their humiliating 4-1 loss to the Gunners at the Emirates.

Chelsea have never hosted Arsenal at Stamford Bridge before and are expecting more than 30,000 fans.

The bumper gate will include a healthy Arsenal away allocation of 6,000. The crowd and the atmosphere could be crucial in deciding the outcome. It took Arsenal a while to really find their rhythm when playing at the Emirates, despite fantastic attendances, but in recent games they have been able to draw on that loud home support.

Chelsea have struggled to get comparable numbers through the turnstiles at the Bridge and a lot of focus has been placed on this match as a statement of their intent on 
that front.

It will also mark the penultimate meeting between the two managers, as Emma Hayes prepares to take charge of the US women’s national team at the end of the season.

Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall has been a worthy opponent for Hayes both on and off the pitch over the past three years. At the end of this month, they will get one last opportunity to face each other for a trophy as they contest the Continental Cup final at Molineux.

Hayes currently leads Eidevall 4-3 in their head-to-head. She will be determined to ensure that winning record does not get overturned in these last two matches.

Tottenham breaking new ground

Tottenham reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in their history after a famous win over Manchester City, demonstrating the progress they have made this season.

City led from the sixth minute but a 96th-minute equaliser from Bethany England sent the game to extra-time and eventually penalties. From there goalkeeper Becky Spencer was the hero as she saved the first two from England stars Alex Greenwood and Chloe Kelly.

Goalkeeper Becky Spencer was Tottenham's hero

Goalkeeper Becky Spencer was Tottenham’s hero (Picture: Rex)

It was Spurs’ fourth meeting with the three-time FA Cup winners this season. They suffered a record 7-0 loss before going down 1-0 in the Continental Cup quarter-final and 2-0 at home in the WSL. They were able to make it fourth time lucky.

It means Tottenham have a very real chance of being in the final at Wembley in May. A favourable home semi-final draw has pitted them against Leicester – currently three points behind them in seventh in the table.

The winner will face Manchester United or Chelsea. A cup final would be just reward for boss Robert Vilahamn who has transformed a club that just a year ago were in the midst of a nine-match losing run.

Lionesses turn corner as qualification looms

England’s defence of their European Championship trophy is about to get under way as the Lionesses discovered their opponents for qualification.

It is not going to be a simple route, with Sarina Wiegman’s team drawn in the ‘Group of Death’. England will have to face France and Sweden – both semi-finalists at Euro 2022 – as well as Ireland in order to try and confirm automatic qualification.

Sarina Wiegman's England are out to defend their European title

Sarina Wiegman’s England are out to defend their European title (Picture: Getty Images)

The new format attempts to ensure teams play more even matches, so we will see fewer lopsided scorelines like the 20-0 win England had over Latvia during World Cup qualifying.

The top two teams in each group will qualify automatically but third and fourth placed teams will go through a play-off system to give them a further chance to qualify.
So even though England’s group is tough, they should have a relatively good chance of making it to Switzerland regardless.

Wiegman will be confident her team is good enough to finish in those top two positions. Good wins over Italy and Austria in the last international break hinted at an England side getting back to better form.

Failing to secure a place at this year’s Olympics was obviously disappointing but a summer off from international competition will allow Wiegman to reconfigure this side. They will kick off qualification against Sweden at Wembley on April 5.

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