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Chelsea Ladies will begin their title defence of the FA Women’s Super League 1 with a trip to newly-promoted Doncaster Rovers Belles.

Emma Hayes’ side won the league and cup double last season – the club’s first ever pieces of silverware – and have made several signings over the close season including Birmingham and England striker Karen Carney and Doncaster striker Bethany England.

The 2016/2017 season starts on Thursday 24th March in Yorkshire before a home game four days later against Liverpool Ladies, with the Reds facing Birmingham City in their first game.

The season ends away to Notts County Ladies on Sunday 6 November.

Chelsea Ladies’ first 5 league fixtures

Doncaster Rovers Belles (A)

Liverpool Ladies (H)

Arsenal Ladies (A)

Manchester City Women (H)

Sunderland AFC Ladies (H)

 

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Primus (right) in action for England Under 19's against Portugal

Chelsea Ladies midfielder Atlanta Primus has joined WSL2 side Yeovil Ladies.

The England U19 midfielder has moved for an undisclosed fee, and will join her new teammates ahead of the Glovers’ SSE FA Women’s Cup tie against either Bradford City or Huddersfield Town on 7th February.

“I have been aware of Atlanta and her talent for a number of years and have watched her progress with great interest,” Yeovil boss Jamie Sherwood said.

“I initially tried to sign Atlanta on loan last season but to no avail, so to sign her permanently I feel is very exciting.”

Following the announcement, Primus said:

“I can’t wait to get started with the new season. 

“I’m certain that Yeovil will help grow and develop me to become a better player. I’m relishing the opportunity to play first team football and looking forward to helping the team push for promotion.

“I’m grateful for my time at Chelsea but now I’m excited to start a new chapter and looking forward to a new challenge.

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Chelsea have completed their fourth signing of the close season after they announced the signing of Doncaster Belles striker Bethany England.

England follows the signings of striker Karen Carney and goalkeeper Becky Spencer from Birmingham and midfielder Jade Bailey from Arsenal.

21-year old England was a key player for Doncaster last season as they were promoted to the WSL1, scoring 14 goals.

England, who has competed at U23 level for her country, said: “I feel I am at the stage in my career to test myself at a higher level.”

 

England will be reunited with Chelsea assistant manager Paul Green, who signed her during his time at Doncaster.

“Beth is a great character and a young player who is hungry to develop and improve her game,” said Green.

 

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Chelsea Ladies boss Emma Hayes has lauded the signing of Karen Carney and has spoken of the potential she will bring to the side. 

The double-winning Blues signed Carney from WSL1 rivals Birmingham City earlier in the transfer window, and Hayes has said that Carney’s leadership qualities are a huge plus:

“This is a player I know inside-out,” said Hayes to the Chelsea website.

“This is the third time I’ll be working with her and it’s important for our fans to know we have a truly world-class talent.

“It’s no coincidence that every team Karen plays in is successful.

“She’s not a quiet leader – she is incredibly vocal on the pitch and I felt we’ve lacked that at times.

“We have a lot of quiet leaders, but what you’ll get from Kaz is she reads the game so well and if adjustments need to be made in the flow, she’s very clever – she’ll pick them out and share that information with her team-mates.”

As well leadership, Carney is well-known for her skill with a set-piece, and Hayes has said that this will combine well with the skill already in the side:

“For the height we’ve got in the team, and players who are very good in the air, we didn’t threaten enough from set-pieces,” added Hayes.

“Kaz brings that ability, to hit a set-piece from anywhere and put it on someone’s head. She’ll also be involved with the creation and strategy of them – she’s intelligent, a real thinker with an aptitude for learning and being involved in the decision-making process. I enjoy that.”

Hayes and Carney know each other well, having previously worked together with Arsenal and Chicago, and the manager feels now is the perfect time to rekindle the relationship with the striker, who has over 100 England caps, which has previously yielded silverware.

“I worked with her when she was 19, then in her early 20s and now she is 28 – it is the right time to once again work with someone who I know very well and knows me very well,” Hayes added.

“We can certainly elevate Chelsea’s play to the next level.

“It’s the right time for her and I’ve heard her mention that. Before, it wasn’t. She’s at a stage in her career when she can make the impact that will see her move from a player in the world’s top 40 to one who is in the top 10.

“I think now we will see the most well-rounded version of her. Someone who can handle the pressure of being at this club and excel.

“She’s got a fair bit of nous and she won’t be afraid to say something to me or to others – she’s honest and opinionated. She’ll challenge people.

“I’ve always said to players looking to come here that the challenge either ignites your passion or it doesn’t, it terrifies and paralyses.

“It’s the opposite with her – all we are thinking about his how far we can take this club.

 “I think after almost four years of me being here, what excites me most is that we can bring a world-class player here and they can talk so positively about how we are the biggest women’s football club in the country now.”

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Chelsea Ladies have made a double transfer having signed Arsenal midfielder Jade Bailey and Birmingham City goalkeeper Becky Spencer.

The announcement comes after midfielder Laura Coombs left for Liverpool on loan and goalkeeper Marie Hourihan was sold earlier in the transfer window.

20-year old Bailey has international experience with England at Under-23 level and played in the 2013 European Women’s Under-19 Championship.

Spencer, who is 24, spent three years at Birmingham, who finished sixth last season.

After the deals were finalised, Chelsea boss Emma Hayes spoke of her admiration of the players:

“I want homegrown, English players who want to grow with us,” she said.

“Becky has developed into a top goalkeeper and arrives with Champions League experience and a desire to reach the next level in her career.

“Jade is a player I have known about for some time and for someone who is 20 has fantastic experience, having started for Arsenal for the past two seasons.”

 

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Chelsea Ladies have announced that goalkeeper Marie Hourihan has moved to title rivals Manchester City. 

The 26-year old made just six appearances for the Blues this season as she was pipped to a first team place by Swedish international Hedvig Lindahl.

Hourihan, who joined Chelsea in 2013, has also played for Doncaster Belles, Birmingham City, Watford and Fulham.

It’s a brilliant opportunity – one I couldn’t turn down – and I’m thankful to Chelsea for letting me take the opportunity,” said Hourihan to the Manchester City website.

“The massive progression the club has made in the last two years and the infrastructure that’s in place is second to none.”

Hourihan will however be battling for a first team place England’s first choice keeper Karen Bardsley. But Hourihan has said she is relishing the challenge:

At Chelsea, I was playing with the Swedish record caps holder so I’m ready for the challenge,” she said.

I’m looking forward to training with Karen – I can only learn from her and we can help each other and improve each other.

“For me, it’s a step in the right direction. Year on year, this football club is progressing and I feel it’s the best environment.”

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Chelsea Ladies midfielder Laura Coombs has joined WSL rivals Liverpool on a season-long loan deal. 

The news comes after the Blues announced that Birmingham City striker Karen Carney has joined them on a two-year deal.

Coombs, who is 24, has been with the London side since 2011 and has had spells at Arsenal, Nottingham Forest and Los Angeles Strikers.

Speaking to the Liverpool website, Coombs, who won the league and cup double with Chelsea last season, said she was excited about the move:

This is a fantastic move for me and I am really looking forward to the start of the season,” she said.

“I had a great year with Chelsea Ladies last season winning the double but this is a brilliant move for me and hopefully I can help Liverpool Ladies to improve on last season.”

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Chelsea Ladies striker Eniola Aluko grabbed the assist as England edged past Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in their Euro 2017 qualifier.

In the Lionesses’ first home game since their third-place finish at the Women’s World Cup in the summer, Aluko swung in a pinpoint cross which was headed in by Manchester City’s Jill Scott.

The goal somewhat saved England’s blushes however, with the Bosnians holding their own well throughout the match despite being ranked 72nd in the world, 67 places behind England.

However, the hosts dominated throughout in front of just over 13,000 fans at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate, spending much of their time in their opponent’s half.

Fellow Chelsea striker Gemma Davison also played, and impressed as she often looked dangerous in the final third.

The win means Mark Sampson’s side sit second in Group 7, facing current leaders Belgium in April.

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Two Chelsea Ladies players helped England Ladies gain a respectable 0-0 draw against Germany. 

Striker Fran Kirby and defender Gilly Flaherty both started for Mark Sampson’s side, with fellow Blues’ strikers Gemma Davison and Eniola Aluko spending the game on the bench in Duisburg.

Kirby was replaced by Jess Clarke with 15 minutes remaining, whilst Flaherty played a full game.

In the first game between the two countries since England beat Germany to take third place at the Women’s World Cup last summer, both Demi Stokes and Jill Scott wasted early chances to put the visitors into the lead.

However, Babett Peter, who scored an own goal for Wolfsburg in Chelsea’s Champions League quarter final defeat, saw a strike whistle past the post, with England keeper Karen Bardsley being the busier goalkeeper.

The draw does however cement England in fifth place in the world rankings, with the Three Lions taking on Bosnia Herzegovina in a Euro 2017 qualifier on Sunday.

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Four Chelsea Ladies players have been selected for England’s Euro 2017 Qualifier against Bosnia Herzegovina. 

Defender Gilly Flaherty has been selected by Mark Sampson along with strikers Gemma Davison, Eniola Aluko and Fran Kirby.

The game, which will take place in Bristol on Sunday, is England’s first home game since their third place finish at the Women’s World Cup in the summer.

 

England squad in full

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Rachael Laws (Sunderland), Carly Telford (Notts County).

Defenders: Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Notts County), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Jemma Rose (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Arsenal), Amy Turner (Notts County).

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Liverpool).

Forwards: Eni Aluko (Chelsea), Jess Clarke (Notts County), Gemma Davison (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), Ellen White (Notts County).

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