Chelsea FC Women boss Emma Hayes challenges her squad to build upon our previous performance, as the Blues go head-to-head with Everton this afternoon for a place in the FA Cup semi-final.
Today’s quarter-final tie kicks off at 1pm and can be streamed live on this website and The 5th Stand app.
The Blues progressed to the last eight of the 2019/20 FA Cup in February courtesy of Guro Reiten’s first-half strike versus Liverpool, however all fixtures were suspended shortly after and eventually terminated due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It had been agreed by the FA that the last three rounds of the competition would be concluded in the early stages of this season, giving the Blues an opportunity to complete the domestic Treble having already clinched the 2019/20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League title and the Continental Tyres League Cup.
‘It feels odd to take part in a competition that’s from last season but it’s a trophy to play for, we are not the holders and I think this is the trickiest tie of the round,’ Hayes acknowledged.
‘Everton have invested heavily, they’ve brought in some fantastic players, they’ve got a brilliant manager and they will fancy themselves as a cup team.
‘It’s critical for our team to keep building on the things that we left off from the Bristol game.
‘There’s been an international break and it was a break that was well needed, it was a long pre-season. I’ve seen in the way that they’ve returned how excited they are for the game and it’s about focusing on our strengths and the qualities that we have within our team.
‘It’s about making sure that everybody understands that in a cup game it’s about the team that impresses the most on the day and it’s very different to a league game.’
Hayes notes what it will take for us to compete in all competitions this term, while pointing out how every member of her squad will play a crucial part in our search for silverware.
‘We have a squad, we don’t have a set 11, we have a squad and we have impact players that come from the bench – that’s what we have every game,’ she said.
‘If we want to compete in everything, including internationals being able to perform internationally, then we have to recognise that every single player has to play their part.
‘Not everyone will start all of the time and this is what is needed if we are going to compete for the biggest prizes. And we also have the depth to be able to make decisions that will keep people fresh throughout the year which I think is important.’
The Chelsea manager has also praised the increase of television coverage that the women’s game is currently receiving amid Covid-19 and Hayes hopes this becomes the norm when fans are eventually able to attend matches again.
‘Hopefully that trend continues and we see new broadcasting partners for the league. The fact we’re playing at Goodison Park and then both semi-finals are being aired on BBC Two and BBC Four mid-week shows that there is a platform and an opportunity to show our sport.
‘It’s something that the public want to see in growing numbers, but nothing is a substitute playing in front of your fans.
‘It is difficult for all teams to play in empty stadiums because your fans are what give you a lift in moments of the game when you need it and also when the players hear the fans singing songs, it elevates their performance.'