Chelsea Women head coach Emma Hayes is hoping her team can make it two wins in the space of four days when we face West Ham United tonight to start building some initial momentum.
It is still early days in the 2022/23 season, with only two matches played so far ahead of today’s Women’s Super League fixture against West Ham at Kingsmeadow, which was originally scheduled to be our first game of the campaign but was postponed following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and is now our last match for more than two weeks due to the upcoming international break.
Having seen her team bounce back from a defeat away at Liverpool by beating fellow title hopefuls Manchester City 2-0 at home on Sunday, Hayes is keen for her team to continue hitting their stride in the new season by repeating their impressive second-half performance at the weekend and securing another victory.
‘I think it’s just the beginning,’ she explained. ‘You have to realise that was only our second game of the season. We haven’t developed any momentum, we’re sandwiched between two international camps and a game cancellation.
‘So, for us, we just want to build on the momentum, particularly from the second half, and put in the performance we’ve come to expect from this team. We have to remember we’re still very early on in the season and the team will find their rhythm.
‘We had a good pre-season, I think a really good second-half performance on Sunday and I’ll be looking for more of the good things that we developed, especially in the second half, and most importantly the things that we’re working on every day in training.’
Continuing on that theme, the Blues manager has seen enough of our opponents to expect another difficult game, but is more concerned with focusing on her own team and making sure we play to our potential.
‘They had some good form during pre-season and a good result on the opening day of the season, but once again I think it’s about us focusing on ourselves, our strategy and the execution of that. That is our priority.’
Hayes also discussed her team selection, confirming that Pernille Harder is still absent with the injury she picked up in the warm-up at Liverpool, while underlining the importance of the players coming off the bench, especially with such a short gap between Sunday’s tough match and this fixture with the Hammers.
‘Pernille is not available, everybody else is,’ she said. ‘I don’t have any concerns about the quick turnaround, the players are all top professionals. They have to recover properly but we have a squad and whatever decisions we take we value the finishers who come into the game. They’re going to be important, especially with such a quick turnaround.’
In addition, the Chelsea Women head coach paid tribute to David McKnight, a member of the ground staff at Kingsmeadow who passed away after being taken ill before the match on Sunday, with the Blues wearing black armbands in his memory for tonight's game and a minute’s silence being observed before kick-off.
‘Everyone’s really devastated. The wider team around the team and those close to him know what an incredible man he was. He did everything he possibly could for our football club, we certainly send our condolences to his family and he will be sorely missed. I think it’s important we pay our respects and put in the best possible performance for him.’