Let your hearts be strong again

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December 13, 2021 by Stephen L Wright

This was the stats summary, courtesy of the BBC, for Blues’ (dark blue) game against Chelsea before the International break, which Chelsea won 5-0:

Now here are yesterday’s against Man City (dark blue) at home:

I said in an analysis last year that the stats don’t always give the true picture. Looking at yesterday’s ‘Possession’, you would be forgiven for assuming that the visitors had the upper hand all the way, and kept Blues confined in their own half, coming away with an easy three points. Far from it.

Those of us who were fortunate to be at Darren Carter’s first game in charge witnessed a team transformed. For eight league, plus a few Cup, games we had seen little heart from the players (I’ll no doubt be called out for that comment, but such is the lot of the analyst). They stood off their opponents. They gave them plenty of time and space. They allowed them to control the game. All that changed yesterday.

Blues’ starting eleven played from the opening whistle like the squad twelve months ago under Carla Ward. They had fire in their bellies. They were hungry for the win. They were determined not to give City any quarter. Their opponents’ squad may be depleted by injury but there were still enough seasoned senior internationals to make sure that didn’t happen. In truth, City were no less a threat than Chelsea. But the players showed that made no difference to them. They were there to dominate.

Of course they didn’t have it all their own way. When you’ve got the likes of Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp running the wings you need the legs to stay with them. Don’t misunderstand me, Blues showed conditioning and staying power, but it’s still Stanway and Hemp and Weir and White and Greenwood. Yet they weren’t locked in their own zone. They hassled, and harried and tackled and passed in ways not seen for far too long. They even dominated midfield for a good period of time.

The two goals were converted from cool heads and at another time determined attempts from Becks Holloway, Libby Smith, Gemma Lawley (who was outstanding in defence) and substitute Lucy Whipp would have gone in.

All in all, a game to remember for all the right reasons.

‘We go again’ at London Lionesses on Wednesday in the Conti Cup.

Until then, stay safe and…

#KRO

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