Emma Hayes says her players deserve all the praise after Chelsea Women restored our two-point lead at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League with a 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur.
Hayes freshened things up for our trip to Spurs after a gruelling two-legged semi-final tie against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, making five changes to the side that started our 4-1 second leg victory at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.
Jonna Andersson, Drew Spence, Guro Reiten, Erin Cuthbert and Bethany England all came into the starting 11 and helped Chelsea go within one victory of securing back-to-back league titles and Hayes applauded the performance of her side.
She said: ‘Whenever you make changes, it disrupts some rhythm. You have to rely on those players to come into the team and be able to fit seamlessly even though they haven’t played a lot of football and I think that’s the hardest thing to do.
‘That’s why I made five changes because on one level you disrupt a rhythm, but you have to understand that took a lot out of us emotionally on Sunday.
‘I was concerned about what our response would be tonight because I think this is the hardest game.
‘It’s why I’ve always said the team that goes furthest in Europe has the hardest chance to win the league so the fact that we are in this position and in the final of the champions league, is a real testament to not just my squad, but the back room staff. They are the people that keep everyone on the pitch and that’s why we are here.
‘It’s a job done and another real credit to the whole squad for getting another win for us.’
Chelsea dominated proceedings at The Hive Stadium on Wednesday night, and it was Sam Kerr’s double that proved to be the difference.
The Australian opened the scoring just before the break when she got on the end of a Guro Reiten cross at the back post and slotted the ball into the bottom corner before she doubled our advantage seven minutes into the second half, prodding home another delivery from Reiten.
Kerr is currently leading the WSL scoring charts with 20 goals and Hayes revealed she’s found a formula to get the best out of the striker.
'She is a delight, she really is,’ Hayes added. ‘I’ve figured out the strategies that work best with her and when it’s your season, things go for you in the same way as it did for Beth last year.
‘The ball is falling to her, she’s taking responsibility for the team which I think is important and she does it again and again.
‘I feel a bit bad not leaving her on to get her hat-trick, but we’ve got other games to prepare for and I didn’t want to take any risks.’
While Kerr was doing the business at one end, Hayes highlighted the work of the defence as the Blues earned our 23rd clean sheet in all competitions.
Hayes said: ‘At 0-0, with the amount of chances we missed, you are always conscious that a set piece can change something.
‘By keeping Ann, Millie and Sophie in the team, the spine of the team was intact and that helps when you make multiple changes and I think that’s the reason we got a clean sheet.’