Chelsea 3-1 West Ham: 3 takeaways as Chels swim into FA Cup fifth round

It wasn't exactly the smoothest of rides without Sam Kerr, Millie Bright, and Niamh Charles, but at the end of the day, Chelsea Women ousted West Ham out of the FA Cup in extra time.
Chelsea Women v West Ham United Women - Adobe Women's FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea Women v West Ham United Women - Adobe Women's FA Cup Fourth Round / West Ham United FC/GettyImages
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Chelsea FC v Paris FC: Group D - UEFA Women's Champions League 2023/24 / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/GettyImages

3. Without Sam Kerr, Mia Fishel showed Chelsea what a real No. 9 does

In the first 45 minutes there was no real target. No go-to player in the box. James is a much better player from out wide or just behind the striker. The English attacker is not a focal point of an attack, especially if Guro Retien wants to swing in left-footed crosses. You were wondering why Mia Fishel, a true striker did not begin the match in the first place. Hayes answered that question a little bit in the post-game interview.

"I’ve always said Sam is an important piece but she’s not available and we have to put our conversation and effort into those that are. For sure she has to and I have confidence in Mia. She needs time, she needs minutes. Up until today she’d only played about 321 minutes, so we need to give her a bit of time."

Hayes' reasoning makes a whole lot of sense. Still, it felt forced to put James out of position, especially with a true nine that has a reputation of bagging goals professionally on the bench. No normal player just nets 30 goals in 34 games. Just throw her the keys, and live with outcome. It's not that simple. A lot goes into it. As time passes during this half of the campaign, starts for Fishel will be more frequent, hopefully with James at the No. 10.

That finish was something special, though. A niffy turn, and a powerful strike past the Australian between the sticks. She only needed two touches. With a lot of the pressure pointed at her, the "Big Fish" let everyone know there is plenty of quality up top even without Kerr.