Chelsea 3-0 Bristol City: 3 takeaways as Blues go three points clear at top of WSL tree

Lauren James' wonder strike helps propel Chelsea Women past Bristol City on the road as it takes advantage of Arsenal's slip-up in north London.
Bristol City v Chelsea FC  - Barclays Women's Super League
Bristol City v Chelsea FC - Barclays Women's Super League / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages
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Mauricio Pochettino's Blues were not the only side within the club to get back on track this past weekend. Despite such a quick turnaround from a mid-week match that was defined by inefficiency, Chelsea Women went on the road against a sinking Bristol City team and took care of what it had to.

Arsenal's defeat in the north London derby on Saturday means that Emma Hayes' side head into the Christmas break three points ahead of now second-place Manchester City. Lauren Smith's Robins officially fall to the very bottom of the table as a Honoka Hayashi goal for West Ham pushes the Irons into 11th on goal differential.

Two first-half screamers by Lauren James and Erin Cuthbert sent the away side off and running while Sam Kerr's header put the bow on it all. Led by Sjoeke Nusken, the epitome of versatility in central defense, a much needed WSL clean sheet was picked up. It wasn't a complete disaster for the home team. BCFC created two big chances. The only issue, neither of them was finished off.

Just minutes before the final whistle, Niamh Charles made an unintelligent tackle to earn herself a second yellow card. The English international, who was the only player booked in the entire match will miss the FA Cup contest on January 14 against West Ham instead of the next WSL fixture at the Bridge vs. Manchester United. Charles' red card was the first since Ann-Katrin Berger's reckless challenge on Rachel Williams in April 2022. That was merely a small wrench thrown into what was without question a professional display.

11 shots forced Olivia Clark's attention between the posts, a much better clip compared to the challenge the west Londoners presented to Jennifer Falk. As Hayes promised, Japanese international Maika Hamano was in the team, making her debut in fact. The combination of the bow as she entered the game to the magic on and off the pitch has already made her a fan favorite. No. 23 wasn't the only debutant. To the surprise of many, Hannah Hampton wore the gloves on Sunday, pushing Berger out of the team all together. Ahead of a critical encounter in Sweden on Wednesday, here are our takeaways from what went down in southwest England.

3 takeaways from a convincing triumph at Ashton Gate to close out 2023 in the Women's Super League on a high