If you wanted to watch a positive performance from a west London football club on Sunday, you had to go about 7.5 miles southwest of Stamford Bridge. Just hours after the Chelsea men hit what many think was this season's rock bottom, Chelsea Women collected another routine Women's Super League triumph to retain the league's top spot.
Though, it wasn't the most fluid of displays from start to finish, two goals within an 11-minute span in the second half helped push the Blues past a struggling Everton Football Club. The three points gave the west Londoners a fourth clean sheet in the last five league contests against the Toffees. It also marked the 33rd successive match unbeaten on home soil in the league, equaling Manchester City's home WSL record.
EFC had a frustrating evening, to say the least, watching its sideline leader Brian Sorensen walk off the touchline late on after receiving a red card for some comments to the referee.
City's late rally against Leicester City kept the Manchester side just three points behind the four-time defending champions. The two meet up for the final time in the league on Friday evening on February 16. West Ham United was the Blues' biggest ally on Sunday, coming from one down to shock Arsenal in east London. Hawa Cissoko's finish created a six-point gap between first and third place.
The west Londoners, who have been more suspectable to conceding this year compared to the past limited the away side to just three shots, none of which challenged Hannah Hampton. The Merseyside outfit had just nine touches in CFCW's penalty box. Jess Carter, and Nathalie Björn combined for an average pass completion rate of 86.5 percent, continuing to show that they're Hayes' go-to center half duo.
Guro Reiten took another step toward getting back to her top form, acting ice cold under the pressure of two penalty kicks. The Norwegian now has four goals in her last four fixtures, three of which were from 12 yards out. Ahead of the club's first Conti Cup matchup of the campaign, here are our takeaways from a comfortable evening on Kingston Road.
3 takeaways from a third straight clean sheet across all competitions for Chelsea Women
3. Mayra Ramirez made her presence known in her full Chelsea debut
With the clock running out on her time in London, Hayes made it clear she wasn't going to waste any time with January's big money signing. Colombian Mayra Ramirez was immediately thrusted into the team against Brighton and Hove Albion. In her second WSL fixture, the ex-Levante star made her full debut for the west Londoners.
Sure, she didn't score, but outside of that No. 35 delivered plenty of moments to get CFCW fans excited going forward. The 24-year-old amassed five shot creating actions, second on the Blues only behind the "Wee Scot" herself. You can see the sheer strength, and power she brings to the striker position, consistently bullying Toffee defenders off the ball. That trait makes her a dangerous carrier of the ball, and a menace when pressing an opposition's defense.
She won two of her four attempted dribbles, creating a penalty with a brilliantly strong progressive run into the box against Clare Wheeler. We saw how intelligent of a runner she is without the ball too, which is good considering the quality passes someone like Bjorn has been serving up lately. Her first goal in Chelsea blue just wasn't in the cards on Sunday. Given how impactful she was in the final third, though, it seems to be only a matter of time before we see No. 35 ripple the back of the net.
2. Captain Erin Cuthbert continued her red-hot form in the middle of the park
What didn't she do is the real question? At this point, we here at the PoL are running out of adjectives to describe the kind of performances we've been seeing from No. 22 in blue. From her leadership to her creativity to her defensive effort. She's cooking on all cylinders right now.
The captain earned that second half goal. Cuthbert's top class finish earns her a sixth goal of the campaign, drawing her even with the amount she converted last season. What a team goal it was as Cuthbert began the play with a slick pass into Sjoeke Nusken. The Scot didn't stand still. She made a darting run forward, putting the finishing touches on build-up play I don't think any football fan will ever get bored of watching.
Melanie Leupolz and No. 22 tied for the team lead in tackles plus interceptions on the evening. She came out on top on seven duels, tied for second on the team throughout the 90 minutes yesterday. The Scot created the most chances on the team, accurately completing seven of her nine long passes. Her ability to consistently win those 50-50 balls always goes unnoticed, but without it, results like these are hard to come by, especially without two of the club's most prominent leaders.
1. A tough night out for the referees aided Chelsea Women to a multi-goal victory
We would be lying to if we said the officiating did not have an impact on Sunday's result. Emily Heaslip has a history of owning a short lease when it comes to dishing out cards. Remember the second yellow card that was given to Alex Greenwood earlier in the campaign vs. Chelsea? That was her. 11 players that afternoon made it into her book.
The official for the last FA Cup final gifted the west Londoners two penalties yesterday that were pretty not only questionable but pretty soft as well. EFC felt hard done by both decisions, especially the first one. Heaslip, who was hearing it from the sideline did not hesitate to hoist a second yellow above her head toward the direction of the Toffees' manager. There were even occasions where it looked like she had booked the incorrect player. Don't forget about that inaccurate offside call late on Fran Kirby.
One of Everton's goalkeepers, Emily Ramsey who is still out due to an ankle injury took to social media to let her opinion be heard on the officials' performance. Either way, there was no argument with the third goal. It is another refereeing display the league should not be proud of. It should be thanking Cuthbert for allowing the match not to be decided by two spot kicks.
Sunderland AFC Women of the Barclays Women's Championship come to town on Wednesday evening. Click the link to get yourself a spot in the ground.