Emma Hayes was pleased with her team’s performance in Chelsea Women’s Stateside pre-season opener against Lyon…
The Blues drew 2-2 in 90 minutes and were beaten on penalties against the Women’s Champions League winners, with Sam Kerr and Lauren James on the scoresheet.
After the contest, Hayes reflected on a positive performance from her side, even if they did let a two-goal lead slip late in the contest.
‘I thought we played really well,’ she said. ‘For the first 65 minutes we were completely dominant. We executed the things we’ve been working on in training, our movement was good, our ball retention was excellent and our counter-pressing was very good.
‘The disruption came with multiple changes and it’s unlikely in any game in the season I’d make that many changes but this is pre-season and I want to prepare the entire squad for the season.
‘It was a really good start but then we failed to manage the game with all those changes, and that includes roles on set-pieces. The game became transitional and we allowed Lyon to come back into it but in terms of the positives, I thought we were outstanding.’
Erin Cuthbert was deployed in a deeper midfield role and Hayes indicated this could be an option for the 24-year-old moving into the campaign proper.
‘You saw what we’ve got planned for Erin,’ explained Hayes. ‘She’s sitting in the deep-lying position because in and out of possession she offers the team a lot. Jessie Fleming is being given the opportunities to play more minutes and she grew into the game as well.
‘She cramped up and had to come out but I thought the midfield was fluid and in possession we created overloads in the way that we wanted to so generally I’m pleased with the way the midfield played.’
With a couple of new signings involved against the highly-rated French outfit, Hayes had the chance to see how her new-look team might fare moving forward and she was excited at that prospect.
‘I really like what we’re doing,’ she added. ‘I felt when we won the FA Cup, that was our maximum and that we had to improve the squad over the summer because to beat the best teams, you have to be better in possession of the football and we struggled with that last year.
‘We’ve now developed hybrid situations for the team to play in that they are comfortable with. I thought our use of the ball and our decision-making in possession for the large part was a big plus today from last year so I think we are already ahead of where we want to be with that.
‘We have more depth in every position so everybody has to produce quality day-in, day-out because if you want to replicate anything like the level of a team like Lyon then our daily training must be at an even higher level.
‘We’ve done some good business this summer and I’m really excited for the campaign.’
Next up in the Women’s International Champions Cup, we play defending champions Portland Thorns on Saturday in the final match of our USA tour. Hayes also confirmed post-match that England star Fran Kirby will not feature in that game as she continues to build up fitness following the Lionesses’ Euros success.