Chelsea FC Women manager Emma Hayes held a press conference at Cobham via Zoom ahead of Saturday’s FA Community Shield fixture against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium…
The domestic season finally kicks off for the Blues at the weekend after a long pause without competitive football due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Chelsea boss could not think of a better way to begin our 2020/21 campaign.
The match kicks off at 12.30pm on Saturday and is live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
The inaugural fixture makes a return after a 12-year absence from the women’s game and Hayes, who is starting her ninth season in charge, is looking forward to the showpiece occasion at the national stadium.
‘First of all it’s nice to play Man City for the first time at Wembley,’ Hayes expressed to the media. ‘We’ve missed each other as we’ve had a lot of semi-final appearances against each other, or one or both of us have not made the final at the same time. It’s nice to finally play them there.
‘It’s a fantastic way to open the season domestically on the biggest stage with the top two teams in England in terms of the placings they finished in last season.
‘We’ve had the opportunity to play in pre-season games both in-house and against opponents and I think that it’s come at a really good time and we’re very well prepared for it. Everybody is excited and we can’t think of a better way to open the season this year.’
Hayes recalls her previous memories at Wembley Stadium…
‘Well I’ve been on both sides, I’ve been on the winning side and I’ve been on the losing side. It’s an unbelievable place when you win and a very lonely place when you lose.
‘We have become accustomed to playing in these big games, I’ve got a lot of experience in the squad who know how to produce performances at this level.
‘I’ve got great memories from winning both against Notts County and Arsenal and I’d rather focus on those ones.
‘Of course it’s sad not to have our fans with us but I know I’ve got one of the best teams in the world and I’m looking forward to playing another best team in the world for what is a brilliant season opener in this country.’
The squad and our new signings…
'I have a core group of players who have been with us for a while and it’s crucial you retain the services of your best players and that was a priority for us.
‘Bringing players in was about what we needed to add depth in the right areas. We have to think of future years for Chelsea and with Niamh [Charles] and Jessie [Fleming] we’ve got two top young players that will compete to be in the squad.
‘With Melanie Leupolz we’ve got a player who is proven on the world stage and one who will add more value to us – I’m very happy with the squad.
‘I’ve got a fully fit squad and I’m looking forward to playing with the depth that we’ve got. I know I’ve got players that can change a game and I’m blessed that I’ve got every player to pick from.’
Read: Magda Eriksson looking forward to Saturday's game
The Blues boss spoke about Fran Kirby’s return to full fitness…
‘Fran is in a really good place. Her performances throughout pre-season have been exactly what I’ve come to expect from her.
‘Her troubles were well known last year but Fran is in a fantastic place and I look forward to bringing her back into the team environment.
‘It feels like a new signing and I’m excited not just the Chelsea fans but the Lionesses as well because Fran is one of the best players in the world and we’re delighted she’s back with us.’