Chelsea FC Women manager Emma Hayes spoke to the media yesterday (Thursday) afternoon ahead of the Blues’ top-of-the-table clash versus Manchester United at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.
While facing the media via Zoom at Cobham, the Chelsea boss outlined her expectations for this weekend’s encounter, while discussing the experience within her squad and the growth of the league.
Hayes also spoke about our attacking options, including Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby’s relationship on the pitch.
The manager expects an entertaining game but has stressed the importance of using our experience and taking advantage in the right moments.
‘Manchester United are hungry and ambitious and hunger and ambition can take you a long way but so can experience.
‘And yes we have the experience of being in those positions which carry weight but it’s a football match and as we know with football matches they are not predictable.
‘There is quality on both sides so it’s about the big moments in the game, it’s about who takes their chances when they come and both teams have the quality to win the game. It will be a fascinating contest on that basis. The experienced champions versus the ambitious, hungry challengers.
‘I would never call this a title decider, there is far too much to play. They do have top quality but I choose to focus on my own team and the qualities that we’ve got.'
Hayes highlighted the potential within her squad and believes there is more to come from her Chelsea side.
‘We are hitting our stride, we were clinical and ruthless last weekend and we are going into the game confident and it’s a great spectacle to watch. I know they are threats but I will be focusing on my own.
‘We’re scratching the surface. This team has got another gear in them and that’s my job to bring it out. I’m hopeful with more time together that we continue to evolve to another level but they are a fun group to coach.’
The boss was pleased with Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby’s performances last weekend and is fortunate to have a number of attacking options at her disposal.
‘Telepathy and chemistry is definitely not coachable so you’ll always have players who have relationships and dynamics and they definitely have one.
‘If Sam moves into open space, Fran moves into the other simultaneously without interaction. They haven’t played a lot together in terms of the central position because Fran’s playing on the right, but at the weekend we played them a little bit closer together because we have Covid-19 recoveries and we have to manage the squad appropriately, but it was brilliant to watch.
‘The pair of them were marvellous and have a brilliant natural relationship. My job is merely to keep guiding them, do little bits of analysis but for the most part when you’ve top players it’s just about shaping little things here and there to keep them in the right place.
‘I’ve always been about finding the right combination to win the game and I value what the players do at training as one part of it but the other part is what is going to hurt the opposition.
'Having that many different options means I have the ability to change things from week to week, it doesn’t have to look the same and I don’t like things to look the same, it’s too dull.’
Lastly, Hayes praised the rise in competitiveness within the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.
‘I like winning, I like competing and I’ll do everything I can to do that. But what I’ve wanted more than anything else is a competitive league and we’ve got it.
‘Whether it’s Manchester United this season, these games are tough week in week out. You prepare knowing that if you’re not at your best, you’re in trouble and the fact that there is a different rival this year and that there is another one, adds excitement to the women’s game. I just hope it’s a cracker for the fans at home.’
The game, which kicks off at 2.30pm on Sunday, will be broadcast live on BT Sport.