Football Features

Chelsea 1-0 Spurs: Five things learned as England’s stunner secures FAWSL derby bragging rights

By Ollie Thomas

Published: 14:40, 8 September 2019

At the start of a FA Women’s Super League season that promises to be more popular than any other, Chelsea edged rivals Spurs to get their season off to the ideal start.

The winner came just four minutes in, as Bethany England won the ball in Spurs’ half before unleashing a rocket into the top corner in a first-half which throughout entertained those in attendance at Stamford Bridge.

Spurs fought back and grew into the game in their first top-flight appearance – to the neutral, one wouldn’t have guessed that they are an inexperienced side with a plethora of new faces.

Here are five things we learned from Sunday afternoon’s action in west London:

1. England means business

Bethany England would have been disappointed to miss out on the women’s World Cup squad this summer – she scored 21 goals in all competitions last season and winger Nikita Parris was the only English player to score more WSL goals than England.

She may have received a call-up for the recent round of friendlies, but Chelsea’s No.9 is clearly intent on making an impression after having to make do with a place on the bench against both Norway and Belgium.

Just four minutes in, England curled a beauty into the top corner to give Spurs a taste of what top-flight football is really about. It was a magnificent effort which gave new Spurs goalkeeper Becky Spencer no chance whatsoever and sent Chelsea on their way to a memorable victory at the Bridge.

Keep an eye out for England’s exploits this season.

2. Spurs’ new-look team impresses

When England gave Chelsea the lead after just four minutes, it seemed as though it could be a painful afternoon for Karen Hills and her team. Having achieved promotion to the FA Women’s Super League for the first time in their history, facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was something of a baptism of fire.

However, Spurs regrouped after their nightmare start and, despite Chelsea dominating possession, were unlucky not to get anything from the game. Granted, Chelsea hit the bar and the post in quick succession in the second half but had it not been for some smart goalkeeping from Ann-Katrin Berger, Spurs could have easily left West London with a point.

Given that eight of their starting XI were new signings, many expected the newly-promoted, unfamiliar side to struggle against a Chelsea outfit who are powerhouses of English football.

They may have come away without a point, but they can certainly take a lot from their first-ever WSL game.

3. Becky Spencer sparkles

One of Spurs’ new faces is goalkeeper Spencer. Joining from West Ham, Spencer spent some time at Chelsea before the joining the Hammers and was signed to add some much-needed experience at the back for Spurs.

She was outstanding on Sunday afternoon – as well as dominating her area with the fearlessness all goalkeepers require in the modern game, her stunning save from Drew Spence in the second half kept Spurs in it and provided a platform for them to push for a point which, ultimately, they couldn’t quite manage.

It took a moment of magic from England to beat Spencer and she would have been delighted to put in such a display on a ground which she probably dreamed of playing at while she was with the Blues.

Having already received a call-up to the national side in 2016, don’t be surprised to see a return to the squad if she keeps up her form.

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4. Chelsea prefer quality over quantity

Spurs had eight debutants at the Bridge. Chelsea had just one: Guro Reiten.

Manager Emma Hayes described Reiten as “one of the most creative players in the world” as her signing was announced in May. She impressed at the Women’s World Cup for Norway in a campaign which included a Player of the Match performance against Nigeria.

Reiten played as part of Chelsea’s midfield diamond and seemed to be at the heart of everything good for the Blues, particularly in the first-half. She stung the palms of Spencer from 25 yards and constantly tested the Spurs’ backline with a series of well-executed crosses and set pieces.

Chelsea put together some excellent passing moves and Reiten frequently found herself orchestrating proceedings in the final third. England may grab the headlines after her outstanding winner, but Reiten’s display suggests that she will play a big role in Chelsea’s push for trophies this season.

5. Title-chasing Blues have room to improve

This Chelsea side must have struggled to sleep through the excitement of today. The curtain raiser, at Stamford Bridge, on national television.

They may have won the game – something they will no doubt argue is all that matters – but Hayes will think that Chelsea should have won by more than one goal. For all Spurs’ resilience and Spencer’s brilliance, Chelsea lacked a cutting edge as they dominated possession.

As seemed to be an issue with England’s national side at the World Cup, Chelsea were scintillating as they brought the ball into the right areas but struggled to execute the final pass or finish. In injury-time alone, they should have scored on three occasions.

They had an aura of control about them throughout but Chelsea will need more than that if they are to bounce back after a trophyless season in 2018/19. They won the double in the previous season and will surely be aiming to get their hands on some silverware.

The start on paper was perfect, but events on the pitch were far from it.