Analysis

Women’s reaction: Emma Hayes hails Erin Cuthbert and talks about pressure on Arsenal

ARSENAL WOMEN (A) WSL 18/19

After a stunning win over Arsenal, Emma Hayes praised Chelsea Women's match-winner Erin Cuthbert and thanked the fans for sticking with the squad.

The Blues travelled to the home of the league leaders on Sunday lunchtime knowing that anything less than a victory would bring to an end our slim hopes of retaining the WSL title.

That we were so far back owed much to a slow start to the campaign, with three consecutive goalless draws to begin our defence and then, in mid-October, a thumping home defeat against Arsenal.

Since that 5-0 loss, however, we have put together a remarkable run of victories and clean sheets, culminating in a thrilling victory at Borehamwood in which every player put in a shift and followed the game plan to the letter.

Read: Report - Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2

There is no doubting the star of the show, though, as Erin Cuthbert underlined her growing importance to the Blues cause with a goal in either half to put us within touching distance of Arsenal and Manchester City.

'You dream about players like this coming around – full of heart, desire, determination,' said Hayes of the Scottish forward, who has now scored 22 goals for Chelsea.

‘She climbed above a mountain in Louise Quinn and put it [the first goal] in the top corner. She missed one like that in training the day before, but she definitely scored one like her second. No surprise. Top player, top prospect, top person.'
 

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As for the rest of her team, Hayes couldn't be happier. Despite seeing our run of clean sheets ended in the 13th match, having last conceded in the aforementioned 5-0 defeat, our run of victories now stands at 11.

'We're building momentum,' she said. 'Everyone who has been watching us can see it's a team in the ascendancy, ever since the Arsenal game. That was a moment in time; that was never going to happen again. There's no way there was a five-goal difference between us, and today showed that.

'They humiliated us at our patch, and I take responsibility for that, so I want to say thanks to the fans for sticking with us. This one was for them.
 

'We were the better side all over the park, for long spells, and I'm just disappointed we didn't end the game a lot sooner. At 2-0 they're still in it and then Kim Little gets down the side and puts it in for Miedema. I don't know how many they've scored this season, but they're exceptional if they get a chance – and we limited them to very few.

'You've got to nullify their threats, which are all over the pitch, and if you make it difficult for them to shine, you've got a chance in the game.

'We're tenacious in our defending, our energy levels are good, confidence is high and we're building off successive wins. All of a sudden you can see we can compete for a Champions League spot. That wasn't possible before the game, it was a must-win moment.

'I still think winning the title is very much in Arsenal's hands. They've got a game in hand, it's theirs to lose, and this was a match where it was great to see what Arsenal were like managing pressure. Now I know they're going to feel what it's like to be No.1. I'll be interested to see how they manage it throughout.'

- Chelsea Women next play at home on Sunday 27 January when Birmingham are the visitors. Click for tickets

 

 

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