Hayes excited ahead of Chelsea’s season-defining week

Chelsea Women boss Emma Hayes says she and her players are excited but fully focused ahead of the biggest week’s in the club’s history.

The WSL champions will effectively retain their title if they win at second-placed Manchester City, who currently sit two points behind the Blues, on Wednesday.

After taking on the 2016 champions, Hayes’ side will turn their attentions to the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie against Bayern Munich in Germany on Sunday as the club aim to reach the final for the first time.

Chelsea have already beaten City three times this season, in the Community Shield at Wembley, 3-1 in the side’s WSL meeting in October and 4-2 in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

Despite the enormity of the week, Hayes said her players are treating the next two matches no differently to how they have approached every match this season but said previous results against City will mean little on Wednesday.

“It’s fair to say this is a big game, but it’s no different to the tests we have had throughout the year,” she said.

“I think this game will for sure determine the direction the title will be heading in.

“It was nice to win at Wembley, good to win against them at home and get points on the board early in the season and of course winning another Continental Cup was valuable, but this is the league.

“It’s a completely different situation, one where everybody knows that games between Chelsea and Manchester City are fiercely competitive and can go either way.

“But I think we always knew we would have to go up there and get a result so we are prepared for something we expected all along.”

City striker Janine Beckie this week claimed her side are the best team in the division, despite the previous results this season, but Hayes refused to rise to the bait offered by the Canadian forward.

“She is entitled to her opinion, for me I just focus on our team and what we are doing and making sure we are ready,” Hayes said.

“The quality Manchester City have among their group has demonstrated why they are in and around it.

“For the neutral and everyone at home it will be a great game to watch and exciting be involved in because the outcome will factor in where the league title is going to end up.”