Hayes: We’re in title hunt, and have to maintain good start

Emma Hayes charges rose to the top of the WSL1 table after beating West Ham 3-1 after going a goal behind, writes Paul Lagan.

She’s not bothered at this point that she’s top, but she’s very pleased with so much more.

She said: “It’s the three points, I’m pleased with the three points, pleased that we came from behind.
“I’m pleased with the players coming from the bench and I’m pleased with Ji – it was a great finish.”

Chelsea are the only unbeaten side left in the league and are a point clear of Arsenal and Manchester City but Hayes is satisfied they are still in the mix. This time last season, they were too far away from eventual winners

Arsenal to Mount a serious challenge.

“We haven’t lost it (the league),” she said.

“I’ve had to carry that for 12 months, we haven’t lost it. We are in it and we now need to maintain our good start.”

Action from Chelsea at West Ham where the Blues won 3-1 Picture: Paul Lagan

So what would she like to see from her players to, ensure they stay top?

“I would like to see better performances in training, and see the level of the squad go up this week,” she said.

“I was a bit disappointed by our training performances this week and I expect a better level. I want us to be better in a lot of areas in our team and that will be my message to them this week.”

The game turned on it’s head when Fran Kirby entered the fray on 62 minutes.

Already 1-0 down, Kirby, playing her 100th game for the Blues, took just four minutes to try an overhead kick. That was saved but minutes later she set up Ji who passed to Sophie Ingle to ram home the equaliser.

After Ji’s blaster, Kirby showed strength and determination to hold off a challenge before teeing up Drew Spence to finish off the game with the third goal deep into added time at the end of the game.

“Fran’s been really ill, she couldn’t start the game today,” confirmed Hayes.

“But she was well prepared for her role from the bench and again she showed what quality she’s got along with Drew Spence and Jess Carter.”

The Blues dominated that game before going behind but Hayes, as ever, is ultra pragmatic.

She said: “Yes, but it’s what happens at the end that really counts. Of course you want to finish the game sooner, but the result is the most important.”

The absence of full back Hannah Blundell this season was explained by Hayes and it looks like the England defender will be out of action for some time.

Hayes said: “Hannah Blundell has a muscle injury, she’s out for at least a few more weeks. It’s a bit more serious that we thought.

“She is in the hands of the medics and will be back when she can – you can’t put a timeframe on these things.”

Chelsea return to Continental Tyres Cup action on Saturday when they take on bottom of the group Lewes at The Dripping Pan Stadium. Kick-off is at 2pm.

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