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Chelsea boss Emma Hayes expects WSL title race to go ‘right up to the final day’
The table-topping Blues sit a point above London rivals Arsenal.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes expects a thrilling Women’s Super League title race to go to the wire.
The table-topping Blues, who host Tottenham on Thursday evening, sit just a point above rivals Arsenal with three games remaining.
Although Hayes’ defending champions control their own destiny, she believes they have a trickier run-in and has warned her players against complacency.
“Yes, we’re in the driving seat but we haven’t won anything yet,” she said ahead of Spurs’ visit to Kingsmeadow.
“We need to keep our feet on the floor and keep grafting.
“It’s been a brilliant season. We’ve come from the position we have to now lead the league; going neck and neck with Arsenal to the wire is what fans want to see.
“And I’m sure that will be the case – it will go right up to the final day.”
Chelsea face Tottenham for the second time in five days after coming from behind to beat them 3-1 on Sunday, having played for almost an hour with 10 players.
With Arsenal not in action again until the weekend, a seventh successive Blues victory would open up a four-point gap at the summit.
Hayes’ side travel to Birmingham on Sunday and then complete the campaign at home to Manchester United, while the Gunners host Aston Villa and Tottenham before a final-day trip to West Ham.
“We have the tougher run-in, we just happen to be ahead,” said Hayes. “Everybody is looking at our schedule knowing that we have the tougher schedule.
“The team need to remain humble in what we’re doing. At this stage of the season, getting over the line requires detail and diligence and application of the game plans.
“I’ve got to ensure I enforce that as much as possible because as much as it was a great win at the weekend it’s just that: just a win.”
Chelsea were left facing an uphill battle against Tottenham at the Hive when goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger was sent off in the 33rd minute with the score 1-1.
Goals in the final 20 minutes from Sam Kerr and Jessie Fleming earned an important victory and Hayes thinks fifth-placed Spurs will be out for revenge.
“When you win a game in those circumstances, it’s always going to give you a lift,” she said.
“Tottenham provided a really, really difficult game for us and we dug deep in the second half but my question to my group is, ‘why did it take a sending off for us to do that?’
“I want to see a better response from the whole team when we start with 11.
“Tottenham will be gutted to have 11 players and be 1-1 for that length of time and they will be determined to make that right this week.”
Tottenham captain Shelina Zadorsky hopes her side can build on the encouraging aspects of that encounter.
“We had them on the back foot at times, which was great to see,” the Canadian defender told Spurs TV.
“Second half – against a quality side – the momentum swings and we could have done better with our possession.
“I think it’s looking at the game and just figuring out how we make it a 90-minute performance because it was so positive.”