Chelsea Women vs. Aston Villa, WSL preview, predicted XI

At Kingsmeadow on Wednesday evening, Chelsea Women aim to stop a three-match winless run across all competitions to keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the Women's Super League table
Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

One of the advantages of football is the chance to right some of your wrongs almost immediately. It's time for Chelsea Women to flush the FA Cup defeat out of its memory. Emma Hayes' crew is right in the thick of a Women's Super League title race. Ahead of the blockbuster showdown in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals against Barcelona, the West Londoners encounter Carla Ward's seventh-place Aston Villa in Kingston.

It'll be the Blues' first match in the confides of Kingsmeadow since that brutal one-goal loss to Manchester City on February 16. A multi-goal triumph pushes the West Londoners back to the top of the table, at least until City's Sunday clash on home soil against a side that knows how to place up to their competition, West Ham United.

Between now and May 18, it is more than about getting the three points each time out. Goal differential could make all the difference between first and second. Last season, the Blues won back-to-back games in May by a combined 13 goals, something that would have helped if Manchester United had finished on 58 points. To pull away from City, CFCW is no doubt going to need at least one lopsided scoreline in its favor.

Since 2022, Chelsea has outscored the Villians 17-2 across all competitions with its largest victory coming earlier this season at Bescot Stadium. Six different players converted a chance in the final third en route to what is still Villa's largest defeat of its campaign. In response to that, Ward's team strung together four straight wins before Everton and now Chelsea defender Nathalie Björn got the best of it.

Since the turn of the new year, the West Midlands team has struggled for consistency, coming out as the victor in three of the eight league fixtures in 2024 so far. In the most recent league encounter with
Jenni Foster's Leicester City, AVFC salvaged a point at home through a Rachel Daly 75' equalizer.

The defending WSL Golden Boot winner is not Villa's leader in goal involvements. It's the in-form Canadian international Adriana Leon. The 31-year-old has scored or assisted on at least one goal in six out of her last seven contests for club and country. The last time Leon didn't play a part in a goal for Villa in the league was back in January. Leon is predominantly flanked to the right in a frontline that includes Daly, and ex-Houston Dash attacker Ebony Salmon.

Expect some rotation from Hayes due to the quick turnaround, potentially providing a few of her top players some rest ahead of a European trip. Five field players contributed 90 minutes in Northern England on Sunday. An intriguing starting option at the ten could be Serbian Jelena Cankovic who was phenomenal in that position last April with Villa as the opposition. The creative midfielder completed 13 passes into the final third, tied for the most on that day with veteran Sophie Ingle. Ingle, who hasn't started in a WSL fixture since December could slot in for Melanie Leupolz in the defensive midfield as the German has played 90 minutes in three of the last four contests.

Hayes gave a positive update on Millie Bright ahead of the FA Cup semifinal, but it's difficult to see her making the team, at least this week given how cautious the West Londoners have historically been with returns from injuries.

Chelsea Women vs. Aston Villa predicted XI

Goalkeeper: Zecira Musovic

Defenders: Jess Carter, Ashley Lawrence, Niamh Charles, Sjoeke Nüsken

Midfielders: Sophie Ingle, Jelena Cankovic, Erin Cuthbert

Forwards: Mayra Ramirez, Guro Reiten, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd

Chelsea Women vs. Aston Villa match info

Date: Wednesday, April 17

Time/Stadium: 19:00 BST, 2:00 p.m. EST

TV Broadcast: The FA Player, Sky Sports