33-1 spells great goal odds

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Playing three at the back works for Chelsea Ladies

The Ladies know how to keep ’em guessing. They adopted an intriguing tactic in their 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Kingsmeadow last weekend – mystify your opponents at every corner kick.

Emma Hayes’ girls send two players to the flag; left-foot Swedish summer signing Magdalena Eriksson and right-footer Karen Carney, a 100-cap England international who also has the proud distinction of being made an MBE for football services.

Whether they opt for an inswinger or an outswinger is up to them… so the goalie and defence are kept guessing to the last moment.

Against Liverpool, in front of 2,116, the Ladies had 13 corners to test out the bamboozling. The tactic was partly developed because of Scouser insider knowledge, with six of the Reds being ex-Chelsea Ladies, including keeper Siobhan Chamberlain.

When woman-in-black Amy Fearn blew her whistle to confirm the Ladies’ latest league win, it meant that over the last seven games the team have scored a total of 33 goals, and conceded just one.

That the game itself sagged at times was almost immaterial, and was easily explained by the fact that European distractions bookended the fixture. Goals will return on October 29 when Yeovil visit in the league.

“The really big game in midweek took a lot out of us,” said Hayes after the 1-0 win, referring to the gutsy backs-against-the-wall second-half defensive display against Bayern Munich.  “We knew Liverpool would be tough to break down, but overall I thought it was a deserved victory.”

Liverpool played four at the back, Chelsea stuck to three. In the end, that more attacking formation made the difference.

The clean sheet validated tactics for Hayes. The back three remained constant, with newcomer Magdalena Eriksson proving a superb summer acquisition, engineering attacks down the left and building an excellent working relationship with Carney and the American Crystal Dunn.