Midfielder Niamh Charles discusses her first start for Chelsea FC Women, how she’s improving at the club and looks ahead to tomorrow’s big match versus Manchester City.
Chelsea go into Sunday’s showdown in high spirits, following our midweek 4-1 win over London-rivals Arsenal. Charles, who joined the Blues ahead of the new campaign, impressed in the Continental League Cup victory over the Gunners and the 21-year-old expressed her delight at being given an opportunity by Emma Hayes.‘It was obviously a great result,’ Charles said. ‘It’s my first experience of a London derby but everyone was really happy that night, we had the day off on Thursday but given it was a midweek game, the focus turned to City straightaway.‘It was massive and as I said before, I’ve never experienced a London derby but I really got a sense of what it means to the club during the week. To start was an unbelievable feeling and all the girls were really supportive, they really helped me out and I really enjoyed it.‘Because it was a night game I got more nervous because there is nothing to do during the day, so I was just waiting for it, but by the time we started playing I was fine.‘We started well, it was a busy start to the game so I didn’t have much time to think of much else but once I got going I was fine.’
Charles received high praise from Magdalena Eriksson following Wednesday’s derby win, with the Chelsea captain championing her work-rate and style of play, and the young England international has expressed her gratitude towards the skipper.‘Magda is brilliant and she’s been so good to me by giving me little bits of information every day in training,' added Charles.‘She’s been consistently supporting me but also challenging me. She’s given me the confidence to play my way, but is also the first person there to help me learn the way Chelsea play.‘Since joining I think my game has improved for sure, but I expected it coming in because of the quality of players and coaching that Chelsea have.‘Especially since the season has started, the level of tactical detail and information about the matches has definitely increased my game. Each day I’m leaving training having learnt something new and hopefully if I can apply it all to my game, it’s only going to help improve me.'
Another big occasion awaits Charles and Chelsea tomorrow, as we lock horns with fellow title-contenders Manchester City at Kingsmeadow. Although the Blues got the better of our opponents at the start of the season by running out 2-0 winners in the Community Shield, Charles shares what she expects of the encounter this time around.‘We’ve already faced them once this season and got a good result but I don’t think that counts for much going into this game, because it was our first match after a weird off-season,' she explains.‘You look at their results the past few weeks and they are definitely hitting their stride, but so are we.‘We all know every single game matters in the league so we’re expecting a very tough game. I’m sure they will try to deliver a performance similar to the ones they have in the last few weeks but we will be up for that.‘They like to possess the ball and have very specific patterns and ways they want to play, but we will focus on ourselves and our own performance.‘It’s important that we focus on what we’re good at and build upon our last few games.’