How Chelsea's Fran Kirby came to the rescue against West Ham
Chelsea are the only unbeaten team in the Women’s Super League, but the five games they have played so far have not all been straightforward.
Yesterday’s 3-1 victory over West Ham was another hard-fought match and the second straight game in the league in which they had to come from behind.
In similar fashion to their victory over Arsenal, it was the substitutes who made the difference as Fran Kirby came on to play a pivotal role in Chelsea securing a 2-1 victory.
Here, we look at how the Blues were too narrow in the first half and how the introduction of Kirby inspired them to use the flanks more to create chances.
Chelsea looked to play through the middle
One of the most important factors of Chelsea’s win against Arsenal was their use of balls into the box, which caused The Gunners' defence real problems.
But in the first half against West Ham, they chose not to do that.
As can be seen in the picture below, Erin Cuthbert has the ball out wide on the right-hand side and has some space where she could take on the West Ham defender.
But she chooses to pass the ball back to her nearest teammate and they then try to build an attack through the middle.
They tried this tactic throughout the first 45 minutes but it was to no avail because of West Ham’s resolute defensive structure, as well as the Hammers’ ability to get back into position ahead of a possible counter-attack.
Chelsea did not seem to realise that one of their strengths was putting their opponents under pressure through crossing in the box, but Kirby knew that needed to happen when she came on after 61 minutes.
Kirby gives visitors impetus with balls into the box
When Kirby entered the fray her team had fallen a goal behind and needed a response quickly.
Almost immediately, her pace down both flanks caused the home side problems.
The picture below is taken in the build up to Chelsea’s equaliser and Kirby provided what they were missing with a dangerous ball into the box. West Ham could not clear their lines and Sophie Ingle rifled in for the visitors.
Even for Chelsea’s second goal, which was a stunning long range strike from Ji So-yun, the build up saw Kirby trying to create a chance through a cross into the box.
Kirby seems to have that knack of creating chances from very little and she showed that again yesterday.