11 mins: Carter drives in for Chelsea from the right, but is sandwiched by a couple of Birmingham defenders. Referee Amy Fearn decides that at least one of them deserves a booking, so issues a yellow card to Ladd.
8 mins: Birmingham pass the ball around the back again, but lose possession when Harrop tries to switch from left to right, skimming a pass towards Arthur that is too far ahead of her and goes out for a throw. Interesting tactic this: it might work, but it might just invite pressure on them from Chelsea’s forwards.
5 mins: First chance, and it’s Chelsea’s. Beth England stabs a pass through to Fran Kirby, who checks to make a bit of space in the box and shoots left-footed, but it’s blocked before it can trouble the Birmingham goal.
3 mins: Slightly scrappy start to the game. Neither side have really been able to put their foot on the ball just yet. Birmingham slowly building from the back, knocking the ball around at their own leisure.
1 min: We’re away. The sun is actually so bright that it’s causing some of the players a few problems, and it’s quite difficult to pick out the white touchlines. Pray for your liveblogger.
The captains are cossing the toin. Looks like Chelsea will kick off, wearing all yellow, while the home side Birmingham are in their blue shirts and white shorts.
The teams are out. As is the sun. Lovely.
Some pre-match reading. Quite a story, this…
What to make of Chelsea’s start to the season? The team who sashayed to the WSL title last season have just one win from their opening five games this term, and come into this one on the back of a wounding 5-0 hammering by Arsenal last week. So bad was the performance and potential after-effects that Emma Hayes had to rely on some slightly unconventional methods to comfort her team. “I’m a mother, so it’s really easy for me to do that,” she said. “I just showed my maternal side and reminded them it’s really not that grim, that is the reality.”
Hayes has of course been through enough to put a mere defeat in perspective. And Chelsea did bounce back with a win over Fiorentina in the Champions League. But even at this early stage of the campaign, there’s a danger of Chelsea being cut adrift of the leaders: they only have one win, and if results go against them in this round then they could find themselves nine points behind Arsenal already.
Or, indeed, Birmingham City. Marc Skinner’s side have only lost once so far, to Manchester City a couple of weeks ago, and have kept clean sheets in winning the other four games. Is this success unexpected? Perhaps, but it means this is already a must-win game for Chelsea, the team that beat all others last term.
Kick-off: 12.30 BST.