Chelsea Women resume our Barclays Women’s Super League season against Reading on Sunday and captain Magdalena Eriksson says the team are fully focused for the second half of the campaign.
The Blues were given a 12-day break over the Christmas period which enabled the players to head back home to spend some quality time with friends and family. The team returned to the training pitch last Sunday in preparation for the busy month ahead, with Reading at home being up first.
Swedish centre-back Eriksson spoke about her winter break and said: ‘It was nice to have some time to chill and experience my home town Stockholm again. I celebrated an early Christmas with my family and then went to Denmark on the 23rd and celebrated actual Christmas there with my girlfriend's family.
‘It was really relaxed and nice to get out of the football headspace and not have everything revolve around football. As soon as we got back to Cobham for training, it was like come on, let’s do this. Especially getting two new players in who look hungry and fresh to fight.
‘And for us to be in the position that we are in the league and Continental Tyres League Cup, I feel like it’s hard not to get motivated when there is so much ahead of us.
‘This is the part of the season which is the most fun, the part when things get decided and the games matter a little bit more,’ the 26-year-old continued.
Chelsea’s two new signings Sam Kerr and Jamie-Lee Napier joined up with the team for the first time on Sunday 29 December and Eriksson believes the fresh additions will fit into the squad quickly.
‘You can tell already in the first session that they are going to bring something to the team that we have been lacking or missing – they are going to add loads to the team in different ways.
‘Socially they seem like lovely people who are fitting in perfectly. It’s an easy team to fit into because everyone is really welcoming and I can’t wait to see what they will add to the team.’
Eriksson who is in her first season as the Chelsea skipper, reflected upon the opening four months of the term and despite a couple of minor setbacks, the defender believes the team have plenty of positives to bring into the forthcoming part of the WSL.
‘During pre-season and just looking back at last year’s failures so to speak, coming third, I think we were all ready to just get out and win as many games as we could. We had an early setback, the 1-1 draw to Brighton away, that was a bit of a wake-up call to us in the sense that we could not let this season be like last year.
‘We then had a really good spell of winning and were on an amazing run until the last game of before the break which was frustrating. It was really tough conditions, we came from a week where we had three games and you could tell that we were tired.
‘The two draws away to two teams we should have won against are the two disappointments I would say but the positives are definitely the three wins at home to the best three teams in the league – City, United and Arsenal, no one has beaten them all yet and we have which is a strong message to send out to the league.
‘We are up there and we want to be the best in England and I feel when we play at our best, we are the best team in England.’
With our title aspirations being very much still alive, Eriksson knows the importance of hitting the ground running at the weekend.
‘It’s time to get ready again and focus on the games, but we are just going to take one game at a time.
‘Now we have two new signings it’s going to make it easier to rotate the squad and give a few people the rest they need when those three games a week come.
‘We are fully focused on the task of beating Reading. We totally respect them, we know every time we play them it is a tough game and they make it hard for us to play the way we want to play because they are aggressive.
‘It’s going to be a really tough game, but it’s a good game for us to have because it keeps us on our toes.
‘We won’t have the title in our own hands if we don’t win and that is something we aspire to, we have a game in hand at the moment and we just want to keep on winning.’
Eriksson recognises the incredible support we have had from the Blues faithful and is hoping for another bumper crowd for our opening game of the New Year.
‘We have been spoilt with the amazing numbers at Kingsmeadow but it’s nothing we take for granted. Anytime we have a good crowd, we always want to turn up and play well for them.
‘They have helped us perform better in every game we’ve played at Kingsmeadow and I hope we get good numbers on Sunday.’
Tickets for the 12.30pm kick-off are still available and cost £1 for juniors (under-20) and seniors (under-65) and adults are priced at £9.