Chelsea Women vs Man United: WSL preview, predicted XI

In the first of four matches for Chelsea Women in the span of just nine days, Emma Hayes' crew take on Manchester United in a return to Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC  - Barclays Women´s Super League
Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC - Barclays Women´s Super League / Visionhaus/GettyImages
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Emma Hayes
Bristol City v Chelsea FC - Barclays Women's Super League / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages

Compared to last season, United is well off the pace. It already has more draws and the same amount of defeats as the 2022/23 season. Supporters have been making their opinions known. It has been a campaign of inconsistency. Lots of ups and downs. After the loss to LFC, some fans of the club called for the sacking of Skinner. Out of the Champions League. Fourth place in the league. It was not how MUFC would scripted this to go so far after finishing just two points behind the winners last season. The Blues' manager isn't counting them out of the WSL title race just yet.

"They know how to stay in that race, there are still many turns to happen across the rest of the season," she said. "They certainly have more goal threats than they've ever had, so again, I don't underestimate Man United. They are for sure in the title race considering the number of players that they've signed and the quality that they've got amongst their ranks."

A lot of it has to do with the 20 total permanent outgoings this past summer. On the contrary, nine came into the club. Two of United's top-five contributors to goals in the WSL last season are no longer in Manchester. For a new-look team, it just all has not clicked for a stretch of matches yet. For the entire club, this is a massive opportunity to head into the champions house, make a statement, and relieve some pressure.

It is not all bad news when it comes to who is available for Hayes. Niamh Charles will return to the selection pool after serving her one-match suspension. Defensively, the Blues have to find some kind of form. Limiting individual mistakes against this side is critical. United is not an outfit that lets you sit and keep possession of the ball in your own half. A lot of the eyes are going to be on CFCW's goalkeeper, most likely Zecira Musovic who has to be quick in her decision-making, and more confident when picking out passes from the back.