Emma Hayes discusses derby cup day and game of emotions

Despite her side producing a stirring second-half comeback at Manchester City, Emma Hayes wants to see Chelsea Women starting matches strongly, beginning with the hosting of Arsenal at Kingsmeadow tomorrow (Sunday).

The Blues recovered from falling 2-0 behind in our most recent WSL fixture to record a 2-2 draw at the home of the league leaders, thanks to two goals from Ji So-Yun in a much-improved performance after the break.

It could have been a completely different match had we taken our early chances, a fact that was not lost on Hayes as she prepares to lead her side into a Women's FA Cup fifth-round tie against the side we beat in last season's final.

'We relaxed our shoulders in the second half and performed like we can, but I'm just gutted it took 45 minutes to look like ourselves,' said the manager, reflecting on Sunday's thriller at City’s Academy Stadium.

'We're proud of our spirit, we're a together group, but it's a game of margins. This time last year, we took the first chance and went 1-0 up; this season we haven't been doing that. That creates an awful lot in the head.

'We're missing this, missing that; they take theirs. All of a sudden you're playing a game of emotions. That's what happens in sport.

'We have to start strongly more often and when we get in front, put our foot on the opponent's throat. Because we've been chasing so much since the start of the season, from Christmas onwards it's felt you can't afford to make an error. They're costly in a big way. But 2-0 down against a great team and earning a draw – what a great performance in the second half.'

Hayes also discussed the increased competition for the WSL title this season, which has included Arsenal stepping up as contenders for the league crown we won last term, as well as her own side's trophy aspirations this year.

The club which had formerly been the dominant force in English football have not finished higher than third since winning their last championship, in 2012, since when we have twice lifted the WSL trophy, as well as being crowned Spring Series champions.

'More teams are joining the party,' Hayes said. 'It was about time Arsenal joined the parade! They're worthy of being in the position they are and I don't think we should be surprised by it, we should expect it of them as much as my own team.

'You can't win titles every single season, but you've got to compete and if we're picking up trophies, it doesn't always involve the league title. We've still got the FA Cup and Champions League and I know the team can take the second-half performance against City into the game with Arsenal. We're at home and we'll put everything into it.

'The players have all got to pick their heads up and go again, because they've got to fight for our great fan group. We felt like we had home support in the game against City.'

The manager also discussed the fitness of last season's PFA and FWA Player of the Year, Fran Kirby, who was brought off the bench against Man City after starting our previous two games that week.

'It takes time to build,' Hayes said. 'Fran has been out for a while and she played two 90 minutes in a week. She's still building her fitness. She has to keep pushing and working hard in training to get to the levels she sets for herself.'

- Sunday's game at Kingsmeadow kicks off at 2pm. Tickets will be available at the stadium.

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