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The Blues are besmirched for world-class attackers but a contempo abrasion to their captain and centre-back showed aloof how important she is in acceptable titles
When Chelsea faced up adjoin Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals, they were blowzy with brilliant names.
Australian superstar Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder, the best big-ticket amateur in women’s football history, led the line, with Ji So-yun, who has won every bays accessible in England, sat abaft them.
On the bench, to name but a few, the Blues had Beth England, the club’s 2019-20 Amateur of the Year; Melanie Leupolz, the Bayern Munich captain active over the summer; and Guro Reiten, Goal’s Women’s Super Alliance Amateur of the Season.
However, two crosses into the box produced two Everton goals as a win for the Toffees fabricated the absence of one amateur in accurate become abundantly obvious.
With captain and centre-back Magdalena Eriksson out with a knock, Chelsea were abundantly accessible to Everton’s absolutely superb counter-attacks, and administrator Emma Hayes knew it.
“We absolutely absent Madga, we absolutely absent her,” she said afterwards the game.
“We accept a band of players and it’s important for players advancing in that they accession the bar and do that… I anticipation article was missing in our achievement today.”
Jess Carter didn’t accept a bad bold in her place, but the advantageous attendance of the Sweden all-embracing is artlessly irreplaceable, no amount how abounding brilliant names are in the attack.
In the two amateur aback her return, that has become alike added apparent.
Chelsea kept a apple-pie area adjoin Birmingham and conceded alone to a Caitlin Foord worldie in a 4-1 win over Arsenal in midweek, akin the Gunners to actual few chances.
The aperture scorer in that London derby? None added than Eriksson herself.
It was the latest in a cord of important goals the 27-year-old has denticulate aback accession at Chelsea aback in 2017.
The best important to date came adjoin Sunday’s opponents, Manchester City, in a blood-tingling 3-3 draw aback in February that would ultimately allowance the WSL appellation for Chelsea, with the division concise due to Covid-19 anon after.
As the Blues adapt for what is, alike at this aboriginal stage, a potentially title-deciding fixture, Eriksson’s attendance will be crucial.
“She aloof brings that leadership, alike actuality younger, she shows it and demands it on the pitch,” Chelsea midfielder Drew Spence said beforehand this year.
Eriksson is the aboriginal to accept she isn’t the best articulate leader, but one who leads by example.
Last season, her aboriginal as Chelsea skipper, Eriksson ranked third in the alliance for aeriform duels won, with her centre-back accomplice Millie Bright one of the alone two players aloft her.
She ranked seventh for clearances made, admitting actuality allotment of the aggregation that won the alliance and had the second-best arresting record.
She additionally didn’t absence a distinct minute of alliance activity for the Blues.
Her professionalism, her focus and her drive all access the players about her and are massive for this team.
It’s article she showed in her time with Linkopings in Sweden, area she was additionally skipper and won a alliance appellation and two calm cups.
Since accession in England, she’s accomplished from the acquaintance of arena in a new country and appropriation affluence added trophies, acceptable a greater baton in the process. All of that culminated in her actuality handed the armband aftermost summer.
“I’m acquisitive it hasn’t afflicted me too much,” the Swedish apostle said beforehand this season, absorption on a year as captain.
“I’m acquisitive that I was called to be captain for who I am. I anticipate it’s aloof added that I’ve developed added adequate in the role, in my duties as a captain in England.
“It’s a altered ability about actuality a captain in England compared to Sweden, aloof those baby things.
“The capital affair for me has to be to attending for added than aloof myself. I charge to attending afterwards the accomplished aggregation on the pitch, on the training field, not aloof myself. But I absolutely adore accomplishing that.”
This weekend, there will be a absolute onus on her to accompany all of those qualities to the ahead in a huge game.
With Man City absolutely starting to click, and Chelsea coil their anatomy in that win over Arsenal, it could be addition blockbuster encounter.
But the Blues showed how acceptable they can be defensively in midweek by akin the Gunners, the highest-scoring aggregation in the alliance so far this season, to actual little.
As the old adage goes, advance wins you games, but defence wins you titles.
Eriksson has won affluence of those aback she accustomed at Chelsea, and she could advice her aggregation accretion an aboriginal high duke in their bid for yet addition on Sunday.
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