Ann-Katrin Berger expects nothing less than a tough test as Chelsea Women look to secure a fourth consecutive Women’s Super League title in our final day fixture at Reading today which kicks off at 2.30pm.
Three points for both ourselves and second-place Manchester United last time out ensured the title race will go down to the final day, where we take a two-point lead over the Red Devils who travel to Liverpool this afternoon.
Victory over Reading will crown us champions for the fourth season in a row, however we will be made to work for the honour when we come up against an opposition who know that only a victory will be enough for them to avoid relegation.
Ahead of the match, our German goalkeeper sat down to discuss the final month of the campaign, reflect on the season as a whole and look ahead to a difficult assignment we’ll need to pass if we are to lift the coveted trophy.
We have played five league matches this month and in spite of the physical and mental demands on the players, Berger says the squad have relished those quick turnarounds and believes our good run of form has helped with finding consistency at the right time.
‘The momentum is there because as players we train to play,' she says. 'If you have games every other day, that’s more enjoyable than every other week. It’s the last month and you give all your energy away because you know the summer is coming. Saturday is the last game, it’s the final push for us.
‘At the beginning of the season, you have a block of battery and you have to use it for the whole season. You almost take it apart and in the last month we have had even more energy than we expected to have. It was really good.’
There have been numerous obstacles for the Blues to overcome including the absence of manager Emma Hayes while she recovered from emergency surgery last year. Berger believes the togetherness of the squad has been crucial in helping them to navigate difficult spells.
‘Everyone had to step up with Emma absent for a period of time, we had to step up on the pitch as well. We had to take a piece of the leadership she brings and you saw that everyone can do it. We train every day to compete for a position. It doesn’t matter which position because we have such squad depth. Everyone has to be prepared.’
‘It’s been a hard season. There have been a lot of ups and downs, some situations were tougher and some were maybe easier. The people were always in the middle of everything. Everyone tried to look out for each other and pick each other up in the right moments. As a collective, we pick each other up when something isn’t going the way you want it.’
Stakes are high for both sides this afternoon with Reading aware that anything less than victory will see them relegated to the Women’s Championship. Berger is quick to emphasise the difficulty of the task ahead and expects both sides to give their all with one final push.
‘Today’s game is probably one of the hardest games we will play. We can’t underestimate a team who are fighting relegation. Reading is and always has been a really tough team to play against. We know how serious we have to take it. It’s a lot for them to lose or gain and it’s the same for us. It will be a very good game.’
Tickets for the match are available to purchase online from Reading, with Chelsea supporters advised to purchase in blocks Y23 to Y26 and R27 to R28.
Supporters who cannot attend will be able to watch the match which has been selected for live broadcast on Sky Sports.