Charles: We are really excited to start this FA Cup journey again and defend our trophy

Chelsea FC Women defender Niamh Charles is looking forward to getting back into FA Cup action again as we take on Aston Villa in the opening fourth round tie this afternoon, a game that can be viewed live on the 5th Stand and

The Blues will be looking to retain the FA Cup having beaten Arsenal at Wembley in front of over 40,000 fans in December, at the final which had been postponed from the 2020/21 season due to Covid-19.

Niamh Charles is looking forward to restarting our FA Cup journey and remembers how it felt just like yesterday when they were celebrating with the trophy.

‘I think it’s strange given the circumstances with Covid, it feels like we’ve only just won the cup and now we’re restarting it again, but that’s the way it is and we are really excited to start this FA Cup journey again and defend our trophy.

‘Football moves quickly, so it seems like a long time ago but it really wasn’t but the performance that we put on that day was really good and it was so nice to have all the fans and family there to enjoy it. The FA Cup is such a historic trophy and that was my first time winning it, so it was really special and the celebrations after were really great.’

The Blues beat the Gunners 3-0 with Fran Kirby taking the team into the lead followed by a brace from Sam Kerr at Wembley and Niamh will be hoping the team goes all the way again.

‘That’s what you expect when you come to Chelsea, every competition you want to win so definitely but we take it game by game and we will be looking to start strong.’

Villa go into the fixture off the back of a dramatic win last weekend against Leicester City and Charles expects them to be on top form.

‘They’ve signed a few players in this transfer window and as the season has progressed, they’ve been getting better, same across the board with a lot of teams in the WSL.

‘I think they are going to be difficult to breakdown with them having watched us back and they may try and catch us on the counter. It’s about being really switched on and we will really need to work hard to earn the points.’

This will be the Blues’ fourth fixture in the past week-and-a-half with the most recent clash just this Wednesday against West Ham, the first home fixture of the season and Charles is confident the team is prepared for the quick turnarounds ahead and are ready to step up with only a smaller selection of players available.

‘At this time of the season it’s all about rest and recover for the next game. There’s not so much time on the grass but that’s why we’ve had time in the bank previously so that we’re ready to do quick turnarounds now and everyone knows their roles and responsibilities each day.

‘We’re all professionals and we know that’s just part of the process and if we can just look at it as a challenge and an opportunity for people to step up and we can count on them.

‘Whoever plays on the pitch they still represent Chelsea and they still train in an unbelievable environment, so we’ve got a lot of faith in every single player here.’

The Blues face Aston Villa at the Banks’s Stadium this afternoon with a 1pm (UK time) kick off. You can stream the match for free live on our website and 5th Stand app.

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