Chelsea vs Bristol City was a special fixture for a number of reasons, not least because it helped to maintain the West London side’s position in and around the title challengers. For Emma Hayes, it gave her the opportunity to reflect, to think about a wonderful eight years, to admire what she has in front of her and to look to the future. 200 games at any club (especially in the much shorter women's calendar) is no mean feat:
‘"It's memorable because any manager who has survived 8 years of Chelsea is always worth remembering and I will remember the 200th for creating the feeling that I’ve got such a good team here to work with, one that has so much space to grow and improve. I see an evolution with team and the new players… With a bit more time, then I think the team will kick on’
‘I’m here as long as they’ll let me coach them and the fact that I’ve had my 200th game shows that they still want me to do it."
It goes without saying that Beth England was up to her usual goalscoring tricks, ably supplemented by the industrious Ji and effervescent Guro Reiten in a 6-1 thrashing that reminded Arsenal and Manchester City of their unwavering title ambitions.
"I don’t see how you stop [Beth] scoring, I feel that about the team. I don’t think its about shutting one player down in our team, if you want to get tight to her, you’ll have a problem with Sam Kerr.’
‘For us, we stuck to task, that’s what I thought we did well today. In the first half, our set piece delivery was excellent, our execution of what we had worked on all week was good and when you do that, you have a great chance of winning."
One slight on the peformance, however, that remains a particularly pressing issue for Emma Hayes, was that opening goal.
"I’ve still got a problem with conceding the first goal in the game, and that’s a big problem we’re not eliminating which is a huge concern for me. I can’t put my finger on it [defensive woes], they know exactly how these goals are being conceded but stopping something from happening is like telling my son that’s a hot tap and you shouldn’t touch it yet he still puts his hand on it.
"I don’t know, I keep educating the players and say that ‘this is how its being conceded.’ Are we set up appropriately? Yes- but this is a technical error from Erin Cuthbert! She’s in the right position but if you don’t clear your lines, it happens, so I think for the players we can't pay too much attention to it because we will then have a confirmation bias and you start saying we’ve got a huge problem but you don’t focus on scoring six goals today."
One thing for certain is that Arsenal next weekend will be sure to capitalise on any indecision in the Chelsea backline. A defeat at Borehamwood on Sunday would spell bad news for Emma Hayes and her side, so what holds the key to an away victory and a late title surge?
"I don’t know what it will be, I just know you have to go one week at a time because the quality of the opposition from week to week can be so unpredictable.’ ‘I think you’ve just got to make it count on your head to heads.’
‘It’s not about stopping Miedema. They’ve got other unbelievable players like Kim Little, van de Donk, Jordan Nobbs."