Claire Rafferty column: Arsenal have been our benchmark but we want that trophy

Claire Rafferty of Chelsea Ladies

In her latest West London Sport column, England and Chelsea Ladies defender Claire Rafferty has a Wembley warning for Saturday, reveals how to liven up gym sessions, and explains why scoring six goals in a thumping home win will not guarantee a happy Emma Hayes.

Hi and welcome to my latest column.

It’s been another busy few weeks with four wins from four games and three more to come before the break, including the FA Cup final to enjoy. And talking of enjoyment, you have to make the most of the good times…

Gym Ji and dancing yourself fit

The video of a few of us in the gym seems to have gone down well. We were just having a bit of a laugh and it was a lot of fun and a lovely way to warm up, but it did get serious after that.

It’s great to love your job and I am sure it helps you relax and do it better.

Balmy and barmy football – and a furious boss

On the pitch, beating Liverpool 6-3 was such a weird game. It was a lovely sunny day, there was a brilliant atmosphere, a big crowd and it was a thrilling match and a big win, which the fans loved.

But Emma was not happy at all.

We went 1-0 down so early and that stunned us. We really went at them after that and were totally in control at 4-1 up at half-time, but two goals in two minutes woke us up again.

We could have scored about 12 in the end, but our defending was far from ideal – and describing Emma as not being happy is saying the least, because she gave us a real rollicking!

There was a lack of concentration because maybe we got too comfortable and a bit distracted. Thankfully our strikeforce counteracted that.

Wembley warning

Fran Kirby of Chelsea Ladies
Fran Kirby scored twice when Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 in the league last month

But we know there is no way we can start like that, or play like we did in the second half for a while, and get away with it against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Arsenal are so determined to win something this season. They have been the benchmark in women’s football for such a long time and have rightly built up an incredible reputation.

Having lost to ourselves and Manchester City so far, they are probably under more pressure than we are, but we will be favourites for many people.

These are changing times in women’s football and this is what we want. We want the expectations that come with being favourites. We have total respect for what Arsenal have done over the years and we use them as an example – we want to dominate like they did.

They will no doubt have confidence that we are conceding goals. They had a lot of new faces for this season and settling in takes time, but they have some great players. It should be a cracking game.

Breaking records again?

I really hope it’s a big record crowd and goes even better than last year, when nearly 31,000 people watched us beat Notts County. Ticket sales have apparently already exceeded 30,000.

The weather will play a part I am sure, but as it’s an all-London thing that should help.

Arsenal are a big club, with loads of fans and have been the force in English football for years.

It’s an eye-catching game between strong sides and both teams have done a great job with trying to appeal to supporters.

Ji’s so special

Ji has been a key player since signing for Chelsea
Ji has been a key player since signing for Chelsea

We will have matchwinners all over the pitch, and on the bench.

Ji So-Yun is just one, and she is a special player and she has made such a big difference to us and can do again on Saturday.

She is such a great character and a true natural talent. Defensively she asks Emma why she has to bother, but she still does her bit and I think that’s just because she has so much ability and plays with such enjoyment when she attacks that she is probably frustrated having to do the boring stuff!

Ji has incredible technique and a calmness and a composure which sets her apart from most players and that means you can give her the ball when she is surrounded by three players and be completely certain that she will keep it.

It just takes one little nutmeg and a trick and she is away and looking to create a chance.

Avoiding a cup anticlimax

Last year I missed out on the celebrations straight after the match because I was called for a random drug test, so it was a big anticlimax! I’m desperate to go back and win again – and hopefully be able to take a full part in the celebrations this time!

Tickets for the final, on Saturday 14 May, are priced at £15 and available via the FA website or by calling 0844 826 2010. All children will get in for free.

Claire Rafferty will be continuing her regular column for West London Sport throughout the 2016 season.