Emma Hayes noticed important improvements in Chelsea Women’s performance against Bristol City yesterday, and she also had words of praise for Guro Reiten who scored an early brace to put us on our stride.
The Blues swept into a three-goal lead after 17 minutes against Bristol City thanks to Reiten’s two early finishes and a Ji So-Yun strike. Sophie Ingle capped off an excellent team performance when she netted from close range in the second half. Discussing Sunday’s encounter in the west country, Hayes highlighted the progression being made by the Blues.
‘It was a better performance, a fast start and everything we had been working on in training,’ she said. ‘It’s not a relief, it’s an expectation, it’s what we do at Chelsea.
‘The demands will grow on the players and they are paid to score goals, that’s what I expect and in this game they delivered.’
Chelsea finished third last term and drew our opening three league games which had a detrimental effect on the quest of the Women’s Super League trophy. Therefore, scoring early goals is something the team has been focusing on throughout pre-season, with Hayes emphasising to her players that there is little room for mistakes if we are to be title contenders.
‘We know that it’s not last season, it’s this season. We haven’t lost a game, yes we’ve dropped two points but there’s a long way to go in this title challenge.
‘I always believe in a process and a method has been clear over a number of years I have been here. We compete for trophies but I think it’s fair to say it’s only a third week I‘ve had my group together. When you are going through pre-season and don’t have your whole team together throughout that period, it’s going to take a little bit of time.
‘I think you’ve seen that with Erin Cuthbert and Fran Kirby coming back into form, players are still finding their best form and we have got to keep demanding standards at training, which I do. I have to say I have been really pleased with the way players have performed throughout training this week, they’ve been a higher level again and the expectation will grow even further.
‘We know we’re not favourites but I know the quality we have in our dressing room. I expect we’ll improve upon this performance to be ready for Arsenal.'
Reiten was Chelsea’s only signing of the summer and the midfielder has now scored three goals in four matches this season. Hayes was impressed with the Norwegian international's dynamic performance throughout.
‘I think she is a top talent, she is a consistent performer and we have to be patient with her because she is still adapting to English football. I like how aggressive she was inside the opposition's penalty box today, I think we’ve lacked that aggression.
'I didn’t even know she scored initially because there was a couple of bodies around the ball,’ Hayes said regarding Reiten’s first goal. ‘She is growing in stature and I don’t think anyone who knows her as a player will think it’s a surprise.
‘The way we started the game, the front four in particular making runs into the box, they were picking up first and second balls, they were keen to shoot, all the things we encourage in our environment. Everyone executed the game plan very well.'
Hayes also shed some light on Fran Kirby’s return to fitness. The forward sustained a knee injury in our pre-season tour in Israel and she came on as a substitute in last weekend’s Continental Tyres Cup match against West Ham. Yesterday was her first start of the season, she played over an hour before making way for fellow forward Ramona Bachmann and is set to meet up with England for international duty.
‘She is fit to go with England, Phil [Neville] and I have good communication about it,’ Hayes said. ‘We just need to manage it, there a is always expectation for her to do a lot but she missed the last chunk of pre-season when she took a knock in Israel, she’s just back and we need to support one of the top players in England back to her best, but we have to do it progressively.’