The second half of the FA WSL campaign is now well underway, and the official Chelsea website caught up with Ladies' assistant manager Paul Green as he reflected on last Sunday's defeat at Lincoln, as well as looking forward to this weekend's test at table-toppers Liverpool…
Having resumed our season a fortnight ago with a comfortable 4-0 win against Doncaster Rovers Belles, Emma Hayes's side approached the clash at Lincoln with confidence high.
We were unable to reproduce the quality of the previous week, however, and fell to a 2-0 defeat , with a goal in each half sealing the points for the hosts.
'We were disappointed because we didn't compete as much as we needed to,' explains Green. 'We knew they were going to be a very dogged, physical side, and we told the players that they needed to earn the right to play. Technically, we're a footballing side but you have to earn the right to play by competing with these teams, and we didn't get to grips with that.
'We were a bit soft in certain areas of the pitch and that ultimately cost us. We conceded two goals from set-plays, where we knew they would be dangerous, so there's definitely a lot to learn from last week. Credit to Lincoln, they were quite direct in their play and we didn't handle it.'
Having fallen behind in the 19th minute, a fantastic chance to equalise went begging soon after, and Green feels that missed opportunity could well have been the game's turning point.
'We had a great chance around the half-hour mark,' he says. 'There was a ball played in behind and Sophie Bradley played a short back-pass to the goalkeeper; Helen Ward ran through one-on-one but instead of going round Karen Bardsley she opted to hit it early and it was saved.
'That was our main chance to get back in the game. Goals change matches and if we'd scored that it might have been a different match.'
Back on the road
The difficult test continue to come, with the players making another trip north on Saturday, this time to take on Liverpool, who are under the stewardship of former Chelsea manager Matt Beard.
Green believes we will need to be at our very best in order to head back to the capital with all three points.
'Liverpool are the league leaders and they're up there on merit,' he says. 'They've had a good season and they dug out a 4-3 win at Bristol last weekend.
'Prior to that they'd had a couple of defeats, losing convincingly to Arsenal and then on penalties against Lincoln in the Continental Cup, so if they'd failed to beat Bristol they probably would have been under a bit of pressure, but they showed good character to come through it.
'We know it will be a difficult game, but at the same time we know we're capable of beating anybody in this league on our day. We're going there knowing we need to be at our best in order to get a result, but we've shown on occasions this season what we can do, it's just about finding the right levels of consistency which will push us up the league. We want to finish in the top four, that was always our aim, and we need to get back to winning ways as quickly as we can.'
A major positive in recent weeks has been the form of our latest acquisition, Yuki Ogimi [pictured above]. The Japanese international, who has a wealth of experience at the highest level, signed for the club during the mid-season break, and if early performances are anything to go by, Green believes she will prove to be a wonderful addition.
'In her first game against Doncaster she was excellent; she played just in behind the striker for most of the game and then moved into the striker's role for the last 20 minutes,' he explains.
'She's been a breath of fresh air for the squad and given everybody a massive lift. She's technically the most gifted player I've ever worked with and everybody else is trying to aspire to get to her level.
'She's going to be a fantastic addition for the club and the team, she's already had a big impact and I'm sure she will continue to do so.'
Chelsea Ladies take on Liverpool this Saturday [17 August] at Halton Stadium, kick-off 7.15pm.
Our next home game takes place on Thursday 29 August against Arsenal at Staines Town FC, kick-off 7.30pm, a match which can also be seen live and exclusive on BT Sport.