Chelsea Loses Hopes of Domestic Treble

Chelsea announced that Emma Hayes would be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season back in November. When the decision was made, it fueled Chelsea’s ambition to win the quadruple this season.

Hayes joined Chelsea in 2012. Since then, she has led the Blues to six Women’s Super League (WSL) titles, five Women’s FA Cups, two FA Women’s League Cups, an FA Women’s Spring Series trophy and one FA Women’s Community Shield.

A quadruple would have been the only fitting way to give Emma Hayes the farewell she deserves, however, the chances of that are now long gone.

The First Blow

Chelsea started the season strong, looking like favourites to win not only the WSL title, but the FA Cup and the League Cup (Continental Cup) as well. They may not be favourites to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League, but they are still in contention to win their first-ever in the competition.

On 31 March, Chelsea played in the Conti Cup final against Arsenal. Chelsea who have been having a better season overall, went into the game with the odds in their favour. However, Arsenal is still a strong team, so a tough game was in sight for the London rivals.

Tensions were high on the pitch. Chelsea had initially gotten the lead in the 21st minute. However, VAR denied the goal after spotting that Erin Cuthbert had controlled the ball with her arm during the build-up.

Both teams were unable to shake up the scoreline, and the game went into extra time. Unfortunately for the Blues, Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius scored in the 116th minute. Chelsea was unable to produce a response, and just like last season, it was Arsenal who got to lift the League Cup trophy.

The Knockout Punch

After ending their quadruple hopes, the Blues were aiming for the treble. And just two weeks after their devastating loss to Arsenal, Chelsea faced Manchester United for the FA Cup semifinals.

Manchester United might have been in the run for the WSL title last season, but they have had a difficult campaign this time around. This was another game that was in favour of the Blues.

Chelsea has never lost to Manchester United in any competition. Therefore, the game result already looked to have been set in stone before it even started. However, within the first minute of the game, after a clumsy mistake from French defender Ève Périsset, Lucía García netted it in for the Red Devils.

Just as with the Arsenal game, Chelsea failed to respond. The first 30 minutes of the game were poor for Chelsea, and they conceded another. Former Manchester United player Lauren James who had scored a hattrick against her former team scored for the Blues just before the first half ended.

The second half was a bit better from Emma Hayes’ side, however, United’s defence was strong, as was goalkeeper Mary Earps. Unable to find an equalizer to go into extra time, the final whistle was blown and Manchester United had beaten Chelsea for the first time ever.

The Double-or-Nothing Showdown

Chelsea’s next three games are two back-to-backs against Barcelona in the UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final as well as a WSL fixture against Liverpool.

Chelsea still looks to be favourites to win the WSL title. However, with Manchester City hot on their tales, it might not be so easy. Consistency will prove to be the key in this title fight.

As for the UWCL, Barcelona is arguably the best team in Europe and are tough to beat. The last time the two sides met, it was last season’s semifinals, which the Liga F team won 2-1 on aggregate.

The semifinal stage is set again for the two sides. Chelsea is having a great season, however, they have had better. Barcelona might yet again have the upper hand, but even more greatly this time around.

With goalscoring prowess Sam Kerr away with an ACL injury, and a few more injuries scattered across Hayes’ star-studded team, it will be interesting to see whether the Blues will be able to give their manager some more silverware before she bids farewell to club football.

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