Analysis

Hayes reflects on opening encounter with Arsenal

Emma Hayes admitted she was disappointed in the manner we conceded three goals during our defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, but insists the league is not won or lost on the opening day of the season.

Vivianne Miedema netted early for the hosts but Erin Cuthbert pulled the Blues level just before the half-time break.

Two goals from Beth Mead gave Arsenal a two-goal advantage in the second half before Pernille Harder headed home to give Chelsea hope going into the latter stages of the contest.

The Blues pushed for an equaliser, but Arsenal withheld late pressure to take victory on the opening day of the season.

While Hayes was frustrated with the three goals conceded, the Chelsea boss indicated the importance of shifting the focus to Everton this weekend.

Hayes said: ‘We scored two goals at the Emirates, 15 shots and created chances but you can’t concede three goals and expect to win a game here.

‘The challenge is there every year. It’s not that it’s any different, I just think the Champions League competition meant the opponent had a bit more in their legs in the clinical moments than we did.

‘The way we conceded all of those three goals, all in transition, is the most disappointing part but there is a challenge for us. The league isn’t won or lost now. We lost a game and it’s important we quickly focus on the next one.’

Hayes opted to give our Olympians an extended break during the summer which has meant some of our players are behind the rest of the group in terms of fitness levels.

The Blues boss admitted that played a part in the decision to bring the likes of Sophie Ingle, Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr into the action from the bench and Hayes believes the rest given to her players will benefit the team further down the line in what will be long season for all clubs.

Hayes added: ‘My players got a break, after a long 18 months. Think of those players who didn’t get a break. They might be okay today, but these professional players put in a lot of time, a lot of effort and they deserve recovery in their off season.

‘They had three weeks off. Arsenal gave their players no time off. They have been in six or seven sessions. The players deserve that rest in the summer in my opinion but at the same time you can’t expect players who have been training for seven weeks, pushing their levels to a certain point, they are going to be ahead of players who have just returned. They know that, everyone knows that.

‘It’s a long season and the reason why I say it’s a long season is the advantage might be there now, but my job is to keep everyone on the pitch for the whole season.’

Sunday’s game at the Emirates was live on Sky Sports and replays showed that Mead was in an offside position before she scored Arsenal’s third and crucial goal.

While speaking in her post-match press conference, Hayes praised the coverage of women’s football during the opening weekend of the new campaign but questioned the absence of goal-line technology and VAR.

‘It was two yards offside,’ Hayes said. ‘The positive is there have been goals for the fans, it’s been a brilliant weekend for women’s football and there have been good attendances.

‘The negatives are by putting our product in such a brilliant place with Sky in particular, it means that everyone is asking the question, why haven’t we got goal-line technology and why don’t we have VAR?’

Hayes and her squad will now prepare for our first home game of the campaign against Everton on Sunday. Tickets for the clash at Kingsmeadow are now available and can be purchased here.

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