General manager Paul Green knows Chelsea Women will need to be on top form when Aston Villa are the visitors to Kingsmeadow in the Women’s Super League on Sunday.
We produced an emphatic 8-0 demolition of Vllaznia in the Champions League on Wednesday, which sees us top Group A after two matches. However, a return to WSL action poses a completely different challenge as we look to extend our winning streak to seven matches in all competitions.
The match against Villa will be dedicated to supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign, where we are demonstrating our ongoing support across the club for LGBTQI+ inclusion as we encourage everyone to play their part in making sport everybody’s game.
Carla Ward’s side have proven difficult opposition for us in the past with both league matches last season ending 1-0 in our favour. Green is fully aware of the challenge we face and sees Villa as one of the toughest teams we encountered on home turf last season.
‘Sunday is going to be a completely different game back in the WSL. We know how tough Carla’s team are going to make it at the weekend. We had that last season against them, it was probably the most tricky game that we had at home all season.
‘We only got the last minute winner as everyone remembers through Sam Kerr and the celebrations that happened after that goal, deep into injury time. We know how difficult it’s going to be, but we’ve got to try and use that momentum from midweek, try and carry that over into Sunday’s game and get another victory at Kingsmeadow.’
Our opponents have added some talented acquisitions to their attacking ranks. Green identified the players he believes will cause us problems and credited manager Ward for the impact she has had on their style of play.
‘They’re a very hard-working team, very well organised. They’re going to make it difficult in the first instance for us to play. They normally press quite aggressively as well. It’s a combination of hard work that Carla has instilled in the team, and now the extra threat in the pace they’ve got on the counter attack with Alisha Lehmann, Rachel Daly and Kirsty Hanson.’
Fran Kirby has returned to training and was back in the squad against Vllaznia, coming off the bench to a warm welcome from our fans. Green provided an update on those players who will be missing for this weekend’s game.
‘Jelena Cankovic is still ruled out. Her injury hasn’t settled down as quickly as we’d hoped. Maren Mjelde will be unavailable. She’s taken a little bit longer than expected to recover from PSG so as a precaution, she won’t be in the squad either. We’ve got Melanie (Leupolz) who is unavailable while she is still on maternity leave.’
Positive results and performances have continued in the absence of manager, Emma Hayes, who continues her recovery from emergency surgery. Green is in regular contact with the manager and provided an update on her wellbeing.
‘Emma’s making good progress. It’s still too early to put a timeline on it but we’re speaking to her every day. She was delighted with the performance the other night. She had a comfortable night’s viewing, such a great performance. She’s getting better, I don’t think it will be too much longer but we can’t put a timeline on it.’
Green and Denise Reddy have relished overseeing the team in Hayes’ absence and believe their longevity at the club made the adjustment period easier, but Green is looking forward to seeing our manager back where she belongs.
‘Denise and I are really enjoying it but at the same time, we’ll be delighted when Emma is back. We’ve enjoyed stepping up in this period and the processes we’ve put in place over the 10 years that we’ve been at the club makes it an easier transition.
‘Everyone has stepped up and pulled together to get the results that we need for the club and for Emma in this period. We’re enjoying it but at the same time we’ll be delighted when Emma walks back through the door.’