Chelsea Women vs. Arsenal, WSL preview, predicted XI

This is a big one. You don't need to say much. Chelsea. Arsenal. In the Women's Super League. Last time the Gunners took it to the Blues. On Friday, the venue changes with the west Londoners seeking revenge.
Manchester City v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Semi Final
Manchester City v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Semi Final / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages
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West London vs. North London in the Women's Super League. It doesn't get much better than this in women's football. At least in England.

Before Chelsea Women head off to Amsterdam, Netherlands to kick off the UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinals, Jonas Eidevall's Arsenal Women travel to Stamford Bridge for the second league encounter against the Blues this season. Last time, well, I think all fans of Emma Hayes' side remember that one. It was all AFC. After Johanna Rytting Kaneryd knotted the match at one following a Beth Mead opener, the home outfit netted three unanswered to pick up its largest triumph over its rival since October 2018.

“That’s as bad as I’ve seen us for a long time,” the CFCW sideline leader said following that defeat. “The better team won by a country mile. They bullied us. They dominated in the duels; all phases of our play were poor. That’s not us at our best today, that’s probably us at our very worst.”

Since the calendar has turned to 2023, the clubs have split four straight contests, and drawn one at the Emirates thanks to Sam Kerr. Even with three losses already, the Gunners are still very much in the title race, especially with fixtures against CFCW and Manchester City left. Eidevall's crew sit three points behind City and Chelsea with a far inferior goal differential compared to the two pacesetters.

"We want every game to be exciting, not sure what will happen and go down to the wire. We don't want one team to run off and it be so obvious who's going to win," said former Arsenal player Ellen White on BBC's Women's Football Weekly podcast.

Eidevall's midfield pairing of Victoria Pelova and Lia Wälti was exceptional a few months ago as the two combined for 15 total duels won. Pelova led her team in progressive carries into the final third while No. 13 in red tied Katie McCabe for passes completed into that same area. I'd expect Hayes to deploy Melanie Leupolz this time around as the main defensive six on Friday, letting Erin Cuthbert do what she does best: act as that energetic ball-winning presser. Compared to AFC, the Blues lacked midfield structure at the Emirates. The German should bring that with the kind of form we've seen from her throughout this campaign.