By Tim Harrison
A cruncher looms this weekend as Chelsea return to the Etihad, scene of February’s squirmingly humiliating 6-0 debacle.
Much water has flowed under the Stamford Bridge since then, with the pain of City’s crushing win all-but expunged. Saturday evening will, however, bring the memories back.
It was the game which clinched Morrie Sarri’s fate as Chelsea manager, although he puffed on to the end of the season to win the Europa League and fix a face-saving exit to Juve.
Frank Lampard approaches the match with a spring in his step, and with midfielder Mason Mount and striker Tammy Abraham both on goal-scoring form for England in recent days.
With Callum Hudson-Odoi starting for the Three Lions, and Fikayo Tomori playing a part in Kosovo, Chelsea’s stamp on the national side is stronger – something that England stalwart Lampard is particularly chuffed about.
It’s also been a good post-international spell for Chelsea Women, who defeated Man Utd last weekend in front of 4,790 at Kingsmeadow – a record crowd for a regular women’s league game which was not being played at a men’s stadium.
Defender Millie Bright admits she dreams of playing in huge stadiums after being on the bench for England’s Wembley match against Germany, attended by 77,768.
“I’d love to play at Stamford Bridge week in, week out,” she said. “It’s something all clubs should try to do; play at big stadiums and increase the audience. For me to say that I wouldn’t want to play at Stamford Bridge every week would be a lie.”
In Millie’s view, the litmus test for gauging the popularity of women’s football isn’t just numbers, but is also to do with crowd composition. She has been most impressed by the proportion of boys among Kingsmeadow spectators – a sign of men taking the women’s game more seriously.
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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