Tomorrow Chelsea Women travel west to take on Reading in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League for our first fixture of the new year. Manager Emma Hayes is anticipating a difficult encounter but says her team are well prepared for it.
The game kicks off at 2pm on Sunday and is on the BBC red button.
The Blues returned to training at Cobham at the start of the week following the Christmas break and Hayes is excited the second half of the season will soon be underway.
‘It’s been a break that has helped recharge our batteries but we are recovering from COVID-19 and the players’ safety has been of paramount importance on our return,’ she said.
‘We have been training well and everyone is excited for the game tomorrow, we know we have a big five weeks coming up with a lot of games but this is what we’ve prepared for and we’re just looking forward to getting 2021 underway.’
It’s been a year since we have come up against Reading, having met them in the maiden fixture of 2020 with the Blues 3-1 victors.
The Royals have recorded mixed results in their Women’s Super League campaign thus far, winning three, losing three and drawing four. The Blues boss has outlined her expectations and the threat our opposition may cause on Sunday but has insisted her squad will be ready for the encounter.
‘I have huge respect for Kelly Chambers and her staff and they’ve got quality throughout their ranks and good experience,’ noted Hayes.
‘They finished 2020 with a win against Brighton and they were unfortunate in the game before against Manchester United to not come away with something. They have found a formula which is working for them and it shows in recent performances.
‘I never underestimate them, they are one of the toughest teams to play in the league because they make the game difficult.
‘This is a team that in every turnover look to press the ball and regain possession quickly, so we know there isn’t going to be a lot of space but we will be prepared for it.'
Despite the current national lockdown in England – announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening – elite sport is exempt from the new restrictions and the Women’s Super League is able to continue behind closed doors.
‘We’re extremely fortunate that we have been provided with an exemption status to continue playing,’ Hayes acknowledged.
‘It’s important for people who are stuck at home to give them something to look forward to, it’s absolutely critical that we are responsible with the privileges which have been bestowed upon us to make sure that we keep our National Health Service from the brink of being overrun.
‘I’m grateful that we are able to continue playing and I just hope everybody stays safe in this period.’
Hayes also provided an update on how our new goalkeeper Zecira Musovic is settling in to Chelsea after linking up with the Blues at the beginning of the week.
‘Zecira has got a very good personality and has settled in immediately and she’s got the confidence to come in and make an impact.
‘The next six months for her is to just settle into the club and get used to the way we train, the expectations and the demands on a daily basis. I’m sure she will have a big future with us.'