BY PAUL LAGAN
Emma Hayes has nothing but praise for her two-goal heroine Erin Cuthbert, whose sensational first half header and powerful second-half volley saw off then league leaders Arsenal at their north London stronghold, where they had been unbeaten all season.
The 2-1 victory means the WSL1 title race has taken a potentially significant turn.
Chelsea close the gap on Arsenal to two points, but remain in third place – Manchester City’s 3-1 victory at West Ham see them leapfrog Arsenal to lead by one point.
Hayes’s side are on a roll, they have now won 11 consecutive games in all competitions.
Of Cuthbert, inset right, Hayes said: “She is in my heart – you dream about players like this coming around. She’s full of heart, desire and determination.
“She climbed above a mountain in (Louise) Quinn – 6ft 8ins tall – I don’t know how tall she is, and put the ball in the top corner. She missed one like that in training. The second one – she did do that in training. It’s no surprise, she’s a top player, a top prospect and top person.”
Hayes has other priorities just now – her baby Harry is preventing a good night’s sleep and it’s something that, unlike her side, who she can dictate tactics and performance too, she is finding her little one – a tad harder to control.
She said: “I got up at 4am with my baby crying, and I said to myself, ‘I refuse to give in, I’m not giving you milk.’ It was the second night running. He hasn’t been fed in the middle of the night. I’ve had four hours sleep.
“My biggest goal was to make sure he gets through the night without needing milk and I get a full night’s sleep. As for the rest of it, I think about that tomorrow.
“We are building momentum. Everybody who watches us can see it’s a team that is in the ascendancy.
Ever since that Arsenal game (when Chelsea lost 5-0 in October), we have been in the ascendancy. That was a moment in time. That will never happen again. It did happen and they capitalised. There is no way there is a five-goal difference between us and on we that showed. We were the better side all over the park for long spells. I was just disappointed we did not end the game sooner – at 2-0 they were still in it.
“Kim Little gets down the side and plays the ball to (Vivianne) Miedema (to score), fair play to them. They have scored lots of goals. They are exceptional, they will get a chance, but we limited them to very few.”
While little Harry is her No1 priority, getting him to sleep through the night, has this win blown open the title race?
Hayes is typically non-committal, preferring to focus on what they can control.
“We didn’t take the first position until April last year,” she said.
“We are third, we are enjoying looking at the view above us, and we are concentrating every day – we are getting better and better, because I want us to improve in the cup competitions knowing that the league is out of my hands.
“I can’t control it, we are not leading, So while our concentration is on that, if we are picking up points, in the league, well who knows, anything can happen.
“For years this league has been hotly contested, what makes it any different this year?. What’s the difference, Man City, Chelsea, we probably know what it’s like to be in this position, It’s Arsenal first time. It will be interesting to see how they manage the pressure.”