Chelsea v Manchester United: Boss Emma Hayes can put Blues back on top after Covid battle

Hayes opens up about overcoming the virus at Christmas and the challenges Chelsea have faced ahead of their top-of-the-table clash with title rivals United on Sunday.

Emma Hayes has revealed her relief after recovering from coronavirus over Christmas – and now she’s ready to topple WSL leaders Manchester United this weekend.

The Blues’ derby clash with Tottenham was postponed due to an outbreak in the Chelsea camp in December.

But in typical fashion, manager Hayes faced the virus head on with her main concern being for those around her.

She said: “I was isolating over Christmas. I’m grateful, and I hope it doesn’t come and bite me in the backside at some other point.

“I was fed up of running away from Covid, to be quite honest with you. So when I did get it, I felt like, okay, it’s here now; I’ve got to do everything I can so that it hopefully doesn’t wipe me out and I don’t let it infect my parents and everybody else.”

Chelsea’s game against Reading last weekend – in which Fran Kirby netted four goals in a stunning 5-0 victory – was the only WSL match to go ahead, with the others postponed due to Covid outbreaks.

However, the Blues have not been immune to the difficulties of coping with coronavirus. While they have made a notable return, they are still facing adversity.

Hayes added: “I think the challenge for us is making sure we get it right without doing too much, especially with a large group recovering from [the virus] – myself included – so we have to get that balance right.

“I think it’s always tough because we can’t interact a lot. We’re not having lunches together. [We have] really, really, really short team meetings and then everything’s outside.

“So, we’re limited but it is what it is. You adapt and that’s the key to it. Adapt to your circumstances and control what you can control.”

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Something the Blues can control is who will be top of the WSL come Sunday night. They are currently three points behind leaders United with a game in hand and superior goal difference. Both teams remain undefeated but that could change this weekend.

A win over Casey Stoney’s side would see Chelsea go top – and Hayes fired an ominous warning to title rivals United as she insisted there’s even more to come from her side after thrashing Reading.

Hayes said: “I think we’re scratching the surface. I think this team’s got another gear in it. That’s my job – to bring it out, and I’m hopeful that with more time together we’ll continue to evolve to another level.”

Follow Amarachi on Twitter @iamarachii

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