FA WSL favourites Chelsea Ladies overcome pressure from Liverpool Ladies… and themselves
Andrew Gibney was The Offside Rule’s reporter on the ground as Chelsea maintained their unbeaten record yet still went away disappointed with a 2-1 win over Liverpool.
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Starting the new Women’s Super League season as Champions, Chelsea Ladies are the team to beat and Emma Hayes’ side have a massive target etched on their back in every game they play.
But after three games they are still unbeaten, with eight goals scored and just two conceded, and it’s hard to look past the London club retaining their WSL crown this year. However, the reaction of the Chelsea players following their 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday night is indicative of how much pressure Hayes and her team put on themselves.
“We are disappointed with it. I think we are lucky to come away from here with three points,” central defender Gilly Flaherty told The Offside Rule after the win. “Looking at the second half, Liverpool deserved to come away with a point, but sometimes you need a little bit of lady luck on your side.”
Ji so-Yun had given the away side an early lead – a shot from Eni Aluko was blocked by a determined Liverpool defence, but it fell to the South Korean and she fired her shot low past Siobhan Chamberlain.
Normally, after going a goal up, Chelsea use their pace and lightning quick counter-attacks to pick apart their opponents. But the second goal didn’t come until late in the second half and injuries to Katie Chapman and Hedvig Lindahl either side of the half-time break stopped the Blues gaining momentum.
“Losing Chapman in midfield, she’s our captain, she’s the instrumental part of it all. She organises the team and everything bounces off of her,” continued Flaherty. “Credit to the girls. No matter who plays where, or what position they are told to go into, they continue to graft for us – but we know it wasn’t good enough.”
Chelsea’s second came somewhat against the run of play as Liverpool battled back well. They had edged the play after the restart, but just didn’t quite create enough opportunities to truly trouble the champions’ defence.
Caroline Weir had already forced Lindahl to make an outstanding save in the first half, and it was the Scottish international that gave the home side hope. Her excellent left-foot finish beat substitute Becky Spencer low to her left with just nine minutes remaining.
Scott Rogers side pushed for an equaliser and 16-year-old substitute Niamh Charles nearly won a point, but was denied superbly by Spencer, and Flaherty, who scored Chelsea’s second with a diving header, was grateful to her team mates for staying focused.
“We’ve had two of our senior players come off with head injuries, what’s your chances of that happening during a game, but the subs coming on have done a job. Give credit to Becky Spencer, she came in and made a match-winning save at the end to keep it 2-1.”
It is clear that Emma Hayes influence flows through this team. To go away to Liverpool and come away with all three points but still show disappointment, shows what is expected from this team. They are winners, they have a winning mentality, and nothing but their best is accepted.
“We are not happy with it at all, but we’ll go away from this, look at the video and see where we can improve on this as a team.”
“We know how massive the points are in this league, you can’t afford to drop any. We are pleased we’ve got the three points on board, but all of us will come away and have a little reflection on our own performances and see where we can improve for the next game.”
That next game comes on May 8th as they take on Liverpool at home, then they will face Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 14th. The worrying thought for all the other WSL teams is that this unbeaten Chelsea team believe they can only get better.
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