By Tim Harrison
The Blues travel to Palace this weekend, conscious of underperforming in their home defeat to Man City and only too well aware that Selhurst Park has a reputation as a graveyard for Chelsea ambition.
Tony Conte has to get his tactics right as the Eagles’ desperation means those wily foxes Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington will stymie, hassle and trip the visitors at every turn.
One intriguing tactic adopted by the Blues’ women – notably in Chelsea Ladies’ 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Kingsmeadow last weekend – is to keep your opponents guessing at every corner kick.
Emma Hayes’ side send two players to the flag; left-foot Swedish summer signing Magdalena Eriksson and right-footer Karen Carney, a 100-cap England international who also has the proud distinction of being made an MBE for football services.
Whether they opt for an inswinger or an outswinger is up to them… so the goalie and defence are kept guessing to the last moment.
Against Liverpool, in front of 2,116, the Ladies had 13 corners to test out the bamboozling. The tactic was developed because of Scouser insider knowledge, with six of the Reds being ex-Chelsea Ladies, including keeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
When woman-in-black Amy Fearn blew her whistle to confirm Chelsea Ladies’ latest league win, it meant that over the last seven games the team have scored a total of 33 goals, and conceded just one.
(Note from Ed. - Since Tim's deadline, Chelsea Ladies have gone on to knock Bayern Munich out of the Women's Champions League on away goals).
That the game itself sagged at times was almost immaterial, and was easily explained by the fact that European distractions bookended the fixture. Goals will return on October 29 when Yeovil visit in the league.
Turning back to the first team, Alvaro Morata is still nursing his hamstring, so Michy Batshuayi is likely to start up front against Palace. Meanwhile central defender David Luiz is back from his three-match suspension… although he still has a bandaged wrist after fracturing a bone while clattering into the advertising hoardings against Arsenal. Andreas Christensen, who has proved an able deputy, drops to the bench.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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