News Thu 7 Aug 2014
Chelsea Ladies travel to Liverpool Ladies on Saturday aiming for a fourth consecutive win in the Women’s Super League and a fifth straight success in all competitions.
International football meant the team had a weekend off but it is back to club duty for a match that pits the second-placed Blues against the team currently a position and five points below them.
Rafferty on the title trail
Defender Claire Rafferty (pictured top), the longest-serving member of the Blues squad having joined Chelsea in 2007, has been reflecting on the development she has seen the club make since then and also assessing the impact manager Emma Hayes has had since taking over two years ago.
‘We had a meeting after training recently and we went around the group for each person to choose one thing they were happy about from the last game,’ said Rafferty, who returned to action in May following an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
‘It came to me, and I said, “One thing I’m happy about is that we’ve just won three games in a row for the first time since I’ve been at this club.” I may have been exaggerating slightly, but I don’t recall us ever winning three games in a row against the top teams, which we did recently. Normally we would bow down to these teams, but we’ve progressed so much.
‘Emma really has brought a lot of change to the club,’ continued the 25-year-old. ‘She’s broken down the barriers; other managers have come in with good intentions, but Emma is the one who has made things happen. She’s outlined exactly what needs to happen at the club for us to become a winning side - changes that needed to be made to attract the higher quality players.
‘The day-to-day running of the club has changed so much: we’ve got full-time staff, players living in Cobham near the training ground. It’s a lot more professional, and that’s why we are attracting so many international players. The infrastructure is in place and we’re getting the results now. It’s all very positive.’
A draw or better against Liverpool will send Chelsea Ladies top of the table, albeit having played two games more than closest challengers Birmingham. We host the Midlands side next and it promises to be an thrilling climax to the WSL season, with Rafferty admitting winning the title is the goal particularly in the wake of our fine recent run.
‘Our squad is so deep this year. We’ve had a few injuries and players unavailable, but we have cover for every position – not just average cover, quality throughout. It’s a big difference. The league is so close and having that bit of quality could make all the difference. We’ve got a big enough squad to cope with it.
‘Obviously as a team we’re all excited about the title race and everyone here wants to win the title. It’s in our hands, but the league is so tight - which is going to mean it’s going to be an exciting end to the season. The break was good for us and we’ve got the title in our sights. It’s up to us to perform.’
Under-20 World Cup up and running
Hannah Blundell played the full 90 minutes of England’s 1-1 draw with South Korea in their opening match of the Under-20 World Cup in Canada.
England fell behind to a 15th-minute penalty but levelled through Liverpool’s Martha Harris midway through the second half. They play Mexico in their second group game on Saturday.
Train the Ladies' way
Later this summer there will also be the opportunity to train with some of the team and learn about the Chelsea way at a girls' training camp at our Cobham training ground.
The programme will run from 18 to 21 August for youngsters aged between seven and 16, with top-level coaching alongside workshops on nutrition, lifestyle, career opportunities, competitions and Q&A sessions.