First half goals from Pernille Harder and Lauren James were enough for a heavily rotated Chelsea side to brush past their North London counterparts. Emma Hayes’ defending Champions eased through the game and were rarely troubled, ahead of their return to WSL action in two weeks.
With the bulk of the squad playing in Sunday morning’s internal friendly against Chelsea’s U18 Men’s Squad – which resulted in a 4-3 victory- the Blues rotated heavily for the afternoon friendly. Zecira Musovic was in goal. The back 3 saw Maren Mjelde captain alongside Jess Carter and Aniek Nouwen. Guro Reiten and new signing Eve Perisset started at wingback. Lauren James and Erin Cuthbert formed a unique and energetic pivot. Fellow new acquisition Johanna Rytting Kaneryd started on the right of the front 3. Beth England was the central attacker, with Pernille Harder playing off the left.
For the visitors, Becky Spencer started in goal. Amy Turner, Molly Bartrip and Shelina Zadorsky started at the back. Asmita Ale and Ashleigh Neville completed the 5-person defence. Former Blue Drew Spence lined up alongside Welsh international Angharad James. Jess Naz and Rosella Ayane were afforded free wide attacking roles. New No. 9 Nikola Karczewska completed the forward line.
As expected, Chelsea dominated possession from the off. The home side monopolised the ball through the opening ten minutes, however, they were frustrated by a solid Spurs shape. The visitors actually had the best early opportunity. Naz picked up a loose ball and drove towards the box. However, under pressure from Cuthbert and Mjelde, the Englishwoman could only drag her effort wide.
Chelsea punished this profligacy minutes later. Spurs survived a warning as Reiten flashed wide following Harder’s mazy dribble. However, Carter’s ranging crossfield pass caused havoc in the Spurs box. A combination of Zadorsky and Neville could only deflect the ball back into the air. It landed at Harder’s feet and despite the Dane slipping, she was able to steer the finish into the far corner.
Both sides gave the ball away cheaply, in a very pre-season manner. However, Reiten was unlucky to not score, before Nouwen headed wide as Chelsea turned the screw. The Norwegian winger slammed an effort straight at Spencer before the Blues doubled their lead.
The outstanding Cuthbert was at the heart of it. The energetic Scot nipped in to pinch the ball from Neville following a goal-kick. She played in Lauren James, who used her strength to hold off Spence and Spurs’s Angharad James before shifting the ball onto the left. Her low drive lacked power, but was precisely placed into the bottom corner. 2-0 and Chelsea were cruising.
Right before half-time, Spurs were nearly gifted a way back in. A poor back-pass from Carter presented Karczweska with the ball inside the box. She rounded Musovic and struck goalwards. However, a stunning sliding interception from Mjelde denied a certain goal.
With the comfortable cushion, Chelsea afforded themselves the luxury of changing formation in the second half. Carter switched to left-back, with Perisset occupying the normal right-back role. This allowed Harder to drop back into a deeper role in the midfield.
A superb passing move involving Cuthbert and Harder freed Reiten in the 55th minute. The diminutive winger’s cross was perfect for England to nod goalward. However, she was thwarted by Spurs’ substitute goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela who came on at half-time.
A raft of Spurs substitutes disrupted the flow. New signing Celine Bizet replaced the tiring Ayane, and former Blue Spence received a kind reception as she was substituted for Cho So-Hyun. Minutes later, Cuthbert’s brilliantly disguised pass found Kaneryd. However, the Swede’s sliding effort was blocked well by Korpela.
Another burst of away substitutes disjointed the game further. New signings Ellie Brazil and Ramona Petzelberger came on for James and Karczewska. Kyah Simon also replaced Naz as the pace of the game slowed.
Chelsea remained in control and the influential Harder continued to pull strings. The Dane’s excellent dribble opened up a shooting opportunity, but she fizzed a low effort just wide. Euro 2022 winner England also showed excellent opportunism to nutmeg Turner, but her fierce strike hammered into the side netting.
With the pace of the game dramatically different, Spurs pushed players forward to try and grab a goal, however, Carter, Nouwen and Mjelde all impressed defensively. On the counter, Kaneryd proved a real threat with her direct running, speed and energy.
The Swede, England and Reiten all had half-chances in the hot sun to increase the tally. However, Emma Hayes’ side stayed two goals to the good, and that is how it finished at Kingsmeadow.
The Blues will be happy with their afternoon’s work ahead of the opening fixture at Stamford Bridge against West Ham on Sunday 11th September. Spurs have a tricky opening fixture against Manchester United 24 hours earlier.