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Kerr’s Chelsea ready for FA Cup rebound

It may feel anti-climactic after the huge let-down of their Champions League final loss but Sam Kerr and her Chelsea teammates have one more chance to end a landmark season with a knockout flourish.

Though the 4-0 hammering by Barcelona in the Gothenburg final on Sunday was a crushing end to their dream of winning the ‘quadruple’, Chelsea can still achieve the domestic treble of Women’s Super League, League Cup and FA Cup trophies.

With the WSL and League Cup already annexed, Emma Hayes’ team will be back home at Kingsmeadow on Thursday to face a fifth round FA Cup visit from an Everton side who are expecting a backlash from the English champions.

“It’s like a wounded animal, isn’t it? I’m sure they will be ready to fight back,” said Everton boss Willie Kirk on Wednesday.

“I think the players will feel they have to pay Emma something back from the other night.

“But saying you want to do that and physically and mentally being able to do it once the game starts is another thing and I think we can help influence that.

“We will try to get on top of them and make them feel uncomfortable and hopefully a couple of them will find themselves during the game not really wanting to be on the pitch and wanting the season to be finished and to lick their wounds from that night in Gothenburg.”

Knowing Kerr’s mentality, the Matildas captain will be keen to rebound and seal her Golden Boot-winning campaign by finding the target again after missing out in Sweden.

She has scored 27 goals in all competitions this season, including her league-leading 21 in the WSL.

On Sunday, though, she failed to find the target and was eventually brought off in the second half and replaced by Beth England, the English international, who reckons the Blues are now over their initial “heartbreak”.

“(After) the season we’ve had, we wouldn’t want to end it on that (Gothenburg anti-climax),” England said.

“So I personally think it’s a good thing we’ve got Everton because it gives us a quick turnaround to really put a statement out there like, ‘look, we know we weren’t at our best but we’re going to go again’ and show what we can do.”

Hayes’ team even got a pep talk in Gothenburg from Russian billionaire club owner Roman Abramovich, who just told the team ‘Next time’.

But they’ll be wary of an Everton side set to feature Kerr’s skilful Matildas teammate Hayley Raso.

In the 2020 FA Cup, Everton beat Chelsea 2-1 at Goodison Park in the quarter-finals before going on to make the final.

If Chelsea do win, they won’t be able to shoot for the domestic ‘treble’ this season, with the rest of the FA Cup being held over to next season, with the final scheduled for December 5.

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