Chelsea, the Women’s FA Cup holders, are through to the quarter-finals of this season’s competition and manager Emma Hayes is delighted with the tactical intelligence shown by the team to beat Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
The 3-0 result at Kingsmeadow was the Gunners’ heaviest loss of the season and a good indication of the progress being made by the Blues with silverware still very much in our sights.
‘I say to my team my job is to give you a game plan and your job is to carry it out,’ explained Hayes after the win.
‘If they carry out the game plan and we lose, then it is my responsibility. If they don’t carry it out then it is their responsibility. Did my team carry out the game plan that was set for them [against Arsenal? Perfectly!
‘We had to make adjustments in the first 15 minutes and the team adjusted really well, and that is something we have been working on. We caused Arsenal a lot of problems and I think the result was justified. The performance was excellent.
‘They wanted to get into spaces with deeper runs and draw us out of areas that I did not want the team to get drawn out of, so we made adjustments and as a result, we frustrated them and left them with players in possession of the ball who did not really want to be on the ball.’
Hayes was also very happy with the clean sheet which was the result of strong, disciplined defending and a couple of good saves from Ann-Katrin Berger.
‘There were minimal mistakes,’ observed the boss. ‘We gifted goals to Man City last week and now we have shown what happens when we don’t make errors and we don’t give an easy goal. It is probably the quietest game we have seen [Arsenal strikers] Mead and Miedema have all season.’
Another big plus was the early goal, something the team has been striving to achieve with Hayes emphasising the effort that had been put in during training to take such initiatives in games.
It was scored by Bethany England and was followed by a worldie from Jonna Andersson before England struck with her second. The fans at Kingsmeadow were singing ‘England for England’ and although Hayes thinks the 24-year-old is reaching that level, she can see why a call-up may not come in a World Cup year.
‘It is often difficult for a player to break into that when they [an international team] have been building in a campaign, so I understand if she does not get called up for that reason. I do think Beth will prosper and make England level. I think she is getting closer and closer. You really have to push to get to that level and it is credit to her because she really deserving of where she is at this moment.’
Following the cup win, it is quickly back to WSL action with a home game on Wednesday evening against Bristol City. Tickets are available and fans attending will receive a free scarf.