Chelsea captain Millie Bright and manager Emma Hayes have assured the fans and the media that their preparations and mentality are no different than usual before their vital clash with Manchester United at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.
As captain, Bright obviously plays a huge part in motivating her teammates, both young and old.
When asked about the impact preparing the younger, inexperienced players is having on her preparations, Bright said: “I’m a big believer that nothing needs to change, for me, it’s just about keeping everyone relaxed!”
The Blues of course head into Sunday knowing that just a win will be enough to see them clinch their third consecutive WSL title over Arsenal, who travel to Dagenham to take on West Ham.
Despite the pressure that the side will definitely feel with having to play at the same time as their title rivals, Bright affirmed that she won’t be focused on any result other than Chelsea’s, saying: “The focus has been on our own results all season, we definitely do watch other opponents but when we get to Kingsmeadow it’s all about us.”
Bright would then respond to speculation that Chelsea have never recovered from their opening day defeat to the Gunners, saying: “I think we forgot about that game a long time ago.” before continuing to simply say: “It definitely wasn’t a Chelsea performance.”
With the magnitude of Sunday’s game, some have wondered why it isn’t being played at Stamford Bridge as it could help raise the profile of the women’s team. Bright responded to this when she said: “For us, Kingsmeadow is our home and on our side we’ve got that emotional connection.”
“We have to keep evolving the crowds, we have to push for more fans!” were her continued words on the subject, which is a significant talking point in light of some of the crowds seen in the Champions League in recent weeks.
From the dugout, Hayes shares similar thoughts to her side’s captain, particularly regarding preparation.
“You’ve already heard from Millie before, we take everything in small chunks, daily chunks. “We’ve had to win every game, you have to build towards it, train properly, recover properly” were Hayes thoughts regarding the preparation of her side.
Despite the exciting title fight with Arsenal, Hayes played down the idea of a big rivalry between her’s and Jonas Eidevall’s teams, saying: “The rivalry has been a narrative for you guys (the media), less so for us.”
To support her claims, Hayes had kind words for Eidevall, saying that her main rival: “has been a brilliant addition to the league in terms of upping the standards at Arsenal.”
Hayes would also shut down claims that her and the team were under a high amount of pressure heading into Sunday, saying: “Pressure was putting money on the table to pay bills as a child, this is not pressure. “There’s no pressure, just a wiser, older coach who is enjoying it a little more.”
Some noted that a few of Hayes’ players seemed disappointed following their narrow victory away at Birmingham City last weekend, particularly midfielder Jessie Fleming.
Despite these claims, Hayes reminded the fans and media: “Don’t read into body language.” before suggesting that her players, Fleming in particular, may have seemed downbeat because: “Top professionals like Jessie always want to do better.”
Team News: Hayes confirmed that aside from the expected absence of Fran Kirby, who is still battling fatigue, everybody else is available for this season making or season breaking game.