General view before start of the match Everton Ladies v Yeovil Town Ladies WSL football match, Merseyrail Community Stadium, Southport, UK - 31 Mar 2019 Photo: Paul Currie for The FA

PREVIEW: Everton v Chelsea

Chelsea head to The Pure Stadium on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 12:30pm) looking to extend their unbeaten start to the season and maintain their position at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.

A draw at Brighton & Hove Albion on the second weekend of the campaign is the only blemish of a phenomenal Blues run that’s seen them conquer last year’s champions, Arsenal, and establish themselves as early front-runners. Their opponents in Southport will pose a difficult test though, despite finishing second-bottom last season.

Everton are currently on a hot-streak themselves. Three consecutive league wins over Brighton & Hove Albion, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have taken the club past their points tally from last season and they now sit fourth. Another victory for The Toffees would see them go within a point of the visitors and may propel the side into surprise title contention.

The game will be played exactly a year on from Willie Kirk’s appointment as Everton boss and the former Hibernian manager has masterminded quite a turnaround in that time. Defensive summer signings Kika Van Es and Esme Morgan have been big factors, helping the club keep four clean sheets in their opening seven games.

Chloe Kelly has also been a key figure. The 21-year-old forward has hit four goals so far to jointly lead the division’s scoring charts, while Lucy Graham – another summer acquisition – is close behind her teammate on three.

Chelsea possess similar strengths in defence but could edge out Everton with an array of attacking talent that’s brought them 14 goals on the road so far – six of which were scored last weekend against Birmingham City. Ji So-yun and Drew Spence brought their goal tallies to three apiece that day, while former Liverpool forward, Beth England, joined Kelly as the league’s top scorer.

With Australian goal machine Sam Kerr being added to the squad in January, Blues’ manager, Emma Hayes, will be delighted to see her side top the table at this stage and will hope to extend the team’s one-point lead over Manchester City and Arsenal. Everton may have a big say in the title race though, following proceedings on the north-west coast.

Last season’s head-to-head

Everton 0 – 0 Chelsea (23 September 2018)
Chelsea 3 – 0 Everton (6 January 2019 – England, Spence, Blundell)

Possible line-ups

Everton: Korpela; Morgan, Van Es, George, Turner; Pike, Graham, Clemaron; Kaagman, Kelly, Magill. Subs – Levell [GK], Boye-Hlorkah, Stringer, Cain, Hughes, Hinds, Finnigan.

Chelsea: Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson; Cuthbert, Ingle, Ji, Reiten; Bachmann, England. Subs – Telford [GK], Cooper, Wardlaw, Carter, Blundell, Spence, Kirby.

By Lewis Davies (@hst_groundhop) – visit Lewis’ blog High Stress Therapy¬†here.

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