Double is target for Hayes on return to Wembley

Cup final comes after Chelsea pip Arsenal to the Women’s Super League title

Thursday, 12th May — By Catherine Etoe

Chelsea v Manchester United - FA Barclays Womens Super League - Kingsmeadow

Emma Hayes lifts the WSL trophy after seeing her side come from behind to beat Manchester United. Photo: Pedro Soares/Sports Press Photo

EMMA Hayes will walk her Chelsea team out against Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Sunday with the double in her sights after retaining their league crown last weekend.

The former Parliament Hill School pupil became the first coach to win the FA Women’s Super League three times on the bounce as Chelsea came from behind against Manchester United to pip Arsenal to the title on Sunday.

It had been a rollercoaster of a final day for fans of both London teams, but it ultimately ended in gloom for Hayes’ former club Arsenal who, despite their 2-0 win over West Ham, were beaten to top spot by a point.

The Gunners had seen off defending champions Chelsea 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium in Jonas Eidevall’s first WSL match as head coach back in September.

The two clubs were virtually neck-and-neck throughout, but even though Arsenal lost just once all term, while Chelsea lost twice, they drew four compared to the Blues’ two.

“Arsenal have had an amazing season,” Hayes said. “But I knew on that opening day, OK, be happy with your win, but this is not where you win leagues – I know you win it on the back stretch.

“You can’t lose more than two games in this league and you certainly cannot draw four games.

“We’re title winners because we won enough games for us to be at this place, but we’ve done it from a difficult place.

“In January we were down to 13, 14 players tops through eight games. That for me was where the title was won, that eight-game stretch.”

Hayes added that it was because of the way her side had come through that tricky patch that this was the “proudest” of the six league titles she has delivered to the Chelsea trophy cabinet since 2015.

“We won when we were at our bare bones,” she added. “Everybody stepped up, no one was a passenger.”

Now, 45-year-old Hayes, who has spoken in the past about kicking a ball in imaginary cup finals on the Curnock Street estate in Camden as a kid, will travel to Wembley for a prestigious last game of the season.

There is unfinished business for FA Cup holders Chelsea in this one, as they face the team that denied them the chance of a second consecutive treble-winning season.

Manchester City, who overcame a testing early run of injuries themselves to finish third in the league, beat the Blues 3-1 in the League Cup final in March.

It was their first cup final meeting after eight previous semi-final clashes in as many years. Now they meet for the second final on the trot and, with both teams packed with internationals, this one should be a cracker.

The match on Sunday will be live on BBC 1 from 1.50pm.

Related Articles