Emma Hayes says she likes “putting pressure on others” after Chelsea closed the gap on WSL leaders Manchester United to a point on Wednesday night.
Champions Chelsea thrashed Leicester 6-0 in a ruthless showing at Kingsmeadow to reduce the deficit between themselves and Man Utd ahead of Sunday’s sold-out FA Cup final at Wembley between the two title rivals.
Chelsea have a game in hand on United which means the title is in their hands, but Hayes is enjoying the new dynamic of this season’s run-in.
“I like this position, I like putting pressure on others. I don’t mind being there (top) but this is fun for me,” Hayes said.
“We have always been chasing this whole year, always been a game or two behind. It’s nice to finally close the gap and now it’s about putting Man United under pressure because we’re not in the driving seat, we’re still in second.
“We have had to find ways to win without being scintillating, but I think our confidence is really high right now. We’re in the best place we’ve probably been in all season.
“I know what I want to do for Sunday. I know exactly how we want to play, I’m happy with the whole team, the team are playing well.”
Hayes was pleased with Chelsea’s efficiency in Wednesday night’s mauling of Leicester as it brought the Blues level with United on goal difference (+42), a factor which could play a vital role in the title race.
“I told the team that [being clinical] is something that’s been lacking from our play in the first part of the season. We just haven’t converted or created in the same way I know this team to do, but we are doing it now and we are doing it at the right time of the season. Hopefully that continues for the remainder.”
On going level on goal difference with Man Utd, Hayes added: “I’ll let the analysts and the boffins worry about that and whether that will make a difference. We won’t know until the end.
“I like this stage of the season and I think we’re in a great rhythm. We certainly go into the cup final on Sunday full of confidence.”
‘We made smart decisions’ – Eidevall on selection issues
Arsenal boosted their hopes of Champions League qualification by climbing to third after Stina Blackstenius’ early brace helped them secure a 4-0 success over Brighton.
Manager Jonas Eidevall, reluctant to make excuses, was pleased his side’s relentless first-half display despite having to contend with yet more selection woe as Lia Walti went down with illness in the warm up and substitute Gio Queiroz was forced off with a hamstring problem.
“We had to take smart decisions,” he said, referring to the Gunners’ restricted options, with five teenagers named in their matchday squad. “The first half was a strong performance.
“We kept hold of the ball so well and gave ourselves a margin going into the second half.
“It’s challenging but that’s what we’re here for. We have to deliver the best possible result. I’m not one for excuses, we have to find solutions.
“It’s no coincidence we’re improving in our attacking output now [former striker] Kelly Smith is a part of our coaching staff, she has made the difference with small details.”