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FA WSL Korean Derby Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea

FA WSL Korean Derby
Two of Korean women's national team's biggest stars will be face-to-face when Tottenham Hotspur will welcome London rivals, Chelsea, in the penultimate round of the FA Women's Super League on Wednesday, May 5. Who will come out on top with the sweet taste of a derby win at The Hive Stadium? Shibajee Das previews this enticing FA WSL Korean Derby. 
Image via West Ham United

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Tottenham Hotspur sits eighth in the league table, with the hosts badly struggling for form in the league. Spurs have picked up just a solitary victory in their last ten league outings, with that win coming against West Ham United in mid-January. Rehanne Skinner's side has shipped 21 goals in that period, scoring just five goals themselves. They suffered a demoralizing 4-1 defeat against Manchester United in their previous league outing. However, the team did manage to secure a 3-2 away victory versus Reading FC in the FA Women's Cup prior to that. 

Visitors Chelsea, on the other hand, recorded a vital 2-2 draw away from home against fellow title hopefuls Manchester City in their previous league outing. That kept the Blues one point behind City, but importantly Chelsea still has a game in hand. Emma Hayes' girls have lost just one league match all season, and have managed to replicate those performances on the continental stage. The club managed to reach their maiden UEFA Women's Champions League final on Sunday, after overcoming Bayern Munich 4-1 at home (5-3 aggregate).

 

Team News

Tottenham Hotspur

It wouldn't be entirely surprising if Tottenham names an unchanged lineup from their previous match. The girls have had a nine-day rest since their last match and that should have given them enough time to assess the current situation. 

Rebecca Spencer has been ever-present in goal, while Alana Kennedy and Shelina Zadorsky could continue in front of her. Kit Graham and Kerrys Harrop are expected to share the midfield duties alongside Cho So-hyun. The choice for leading the line could be either veteran forward Rachel Williams or 20-year-old Jessica Naz, in the Spurs' favoured 4-3-3 setup.


Chelsea

As for Chelsea, they could mirror Tottenham's setup, with their own 4-3-3 system. Goalkeeper Ann Katrin-Berger will again be a crucial player, having bailed out Chelsea on numerous occasions against Manchester City. The experienced centre-back pairing of captain Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Bright will be the pillars of defence. 

Sophie Ingle could get the nod in the heart of midfield, with Melanie Leupolz and Ji So-yun operating on either side of her. Further forward, the dangerous trio of Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder is expected to cause plenty of problems for the Spurs backline.
    

Head-to-Head

Spurs have faced Chelsea in six previous meetings, with the former failing to win any of those matches. The Blues have scored a whopping 21 goals in those matches, with their city rivals having a mere two strikes to their name. However, it must be stated that only one of the six matches were staged in Spurs' home ground.

Earlier in the season, Chelsea recorded a thumping 4-0 victory over Tottenham. Melanie Leupolz scored a brace, while Sam Kerr also got on the scoresheet. The other one was an own goal by Abbie McManus. It is fair to say that Spurs will face a mammoth task against a well-drilled Chelsea unit, and a stalemate might well feel like a victory.    



In the Spotlight

Cho So-hyun

Photo Credit: Tottenham Hotspur


Cho So-hyun made the switch to Tottenham Hotspur from West Ham United on the winter transfer deadline day. The 32-year-old made her debut against Aston Villa in the first week of February. She had to wait almost two months for her next league start, having been away on national duty in between. Last month, Cho started in both the matches against Manchester clubs. 

It is fair to say that despite Spurs' struggles, Cho has found very little time to have any influence on her team. Being one of the senior figures, she is guaranteed to be a leader both on and off the pitch irrespective of whether she is wearing the armband. That will benefit the Spurs greatly, as they look to finish the season strongly in both the league and the cup. 

Against Chelsea on Wednesday, Cho will be a crucial component for Tottenham with both sides of her game set to be on display. However, she will have to keep aside any friendly feelings as the opposing midfield will contain one of her close friends and long-time national team colleague.



Ji So-yun

Photo Credit: Chelsea


Ji So-yun has been an epitome of consistency for Chelsea this season. She has started in 15 league matches, scoring twice in the process. Her experience and adaptability has been a crucial factor, playing in a deep midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 formation and in a more advanced role when lining up in a 4-3-3.

The 30-year-old guided her club to the final of the UEFA Women's Champions League at the weekend, scoring the crucial third goal of the match in a 4-1 victory for Chelsea. She drilled a free-kick from the edge of the area and it deflected back to her after hitting the base of the wall. While many would have just blasted the ball on that ocassion, Ji showed great composure to place the ball in the bottom corner.

Having been a part of Chelsea since 2014, Ji has never had a more promising season than the current campaign. While an opportunity to clinch back-to-back league titles is well on the cards, Chelsea could also add FA Cup and Champions League titles on top of that. An opportunity to write the most glorious chapter in the club's history beckons, and Ji So-yun knows that the business end of the season begins with Wednesday's clash against Tottenham.    

Where to Watch

The match will be available to watch on The FA Player. Kick-off is at 1:30 AM KST (May 6).




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