Manager Emma Hayes was quick to praise her squad’s fantastic efforts as Chelsea FC Women got off to a blistering start in our Continental League Cup campaign with a 4-1 triumph over Arsenal under the Kingsmeadow lights last night.
It was an action-packed start to this London derby with four goals coming in the first quarter of an hour.Skipper Magdalena Eriksson got our Conti Cup defence going with a powerful towering header on six minutes, courtesy of a Maria Thorisdottir corner, but then two minutes later Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord cancelled out our opener as she launched a 25-yard strike to beat Carly Telford in the Chelsea goal.However, the Blues’ lead was restored when Thorisdottir scored her second assist of the night as she found Guro Reiten on the edge of the box to enable her fellow Norwegian team-mate to steer a first-time strike into the far corner. Reiten registered her second and our third of the night five minutes later when she pounced on a rebound to blast home before Bethany England came on in the latter stages of the contest to add the icing on the cake.. She raced through on goal to calmly slot home her 50th goal for the club.Hayes, who has a large squad full of world-class quality and depth ready at her disposal, rewarded young England international Niamh Charles her full debut for the club, while handing Thorisdottir her first start of the season.
The Chelsea boss was impressed with their performances and insists that success is down to a whole squad effort, while highlighting the importance of team togetherness.‘As Maria Thorisdottir put it before the game, success for this team is making sure we display the unselfish, no ego, team-first behaviours because winning teams possess players that can be great team-mates,’ Hayes said post-match.‘I showed a video to the team about San Antonio Spurs from 2014 prior to the game and I told the team not to look at the amount of passing exchanges that happen between the team but everything from body language to positive eye contact, to backing each other and to supporting each other – I felt it was really important that what I saw from this team was a performance that reflected everything that Maria described.‘I’m over the moon for players like her and I’m over the moon for players like Niamh Charles who have been unbelievable in training, in pre-season and they haven’t had a lot of minutes.‘Their sacrifice to be unbelievable team-mates and doing the right things where leadership is not seen is something I always admire in a dressing room – I’m just very happy for those players today.'
This particular derby is one known to be one of the most exciting fixtures in women’s top-flight football. Last night’s result was our sixth successive win over the Gunners, but despite our impressive record, the Chelsea boss insists the north London side are still very much one of our rivals. Hayes also took the time to dedicate the victory to faithful fans.‘Of course they are a rival,’ Hayes stated. ‘I love these games and it doesn’t mean I respect Joe [Montemurro] and his team any less, far from it.‘You can see from the level preparation that every game matters and this is a London derby, albeit without the fans. It’s a game that means a lot to me because I understand how important it is to the fans and the players.‘I know we all too often dedicate wins to fans but this one is absolutely for all of our fans and I hope the FA Player plays the whole game on repeat so they can enjoy it at home.‘I always understand how difficult it is for the fans not to be able to come into the stadium and be with their team and not being able to watch that on TV must have been extremely frustrating and all I can say is that Chelsea are committed as ever in providing as much as they can.‘We certainly know that we will be showing many more games in the future.’
Chelsea host Manchester City in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League on Sunday. The mouth-watering encounter is live on BT Sport at 2.30pm.