Chelsea boss Emma Hayes says she does not intend to watch Sunday’s Manchester derby that could see her side crowned Women’s Super League champions.
With two rounds of games to go, champions Chelsea are two points clear of second-placed Manchester United heading into their lunchtime kick-off at Kingsmeadow against Arsenal.
If the Blues win, United then failing to in their early evening clash with Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village will mean a fourth successive WSL title – adding to last weekend’s FA Cup success – secured for Hayes’ team.
Asked if she would be watching the derby, Hayes told a press conference: “I said (to her son) I promise you Sunday afternoon we’ll take you out, new bike, and I’ll take him and his cousins for a roll around north London.
“He will come first Sunday afternoon. Of course, someone will tell me, but I’m pretty certain I won’t be sitting down and watching it at home. It’s nicer, light evenings – I definitely won’t be.”
Hayes, who saw Chelsea go top with Wednesday’s 4-0 win at West Ham and has described their efforts in a busy schedule as “unbelievable” given “the hardest part is the games accumulation”, added of Sunday: “We have to be really respectful.
“We haven’t won anything. We’ve got to play arguably one of the best teams in Europe this year on Sunday and that will be extremely challenging. I think Arsenal are a top team. So I’m not thinking about the outcome.”
Arsenal, Chelsea’s fellow Champions League semi-finalists this term, beat them 3-1 in the League Cup final in March, while there has also been a 2-0 FA Cup win for Hayes’ team and a 1-1 draw between the clubs since the turn of the year.
The Gunners are third in the table, three points behind United and three better off than fourth-placed City in the race for Champions League places – the top three positions.
Boss Jonas Eidevall said: “We play against a very strong Chelsea side and know we have to be at our best. Maybe the best performance of our season in order to get the result we want.”
Eidevall also said Switzerland international Lia Walti, who came off injured in Wednesday’s 4-1 win at Everton, will miss the remainder of the campaign but should be able to recover in time for the World Cup.
United boss Marc Skinner has described the match against City as “a heavyweight contest – one big punch and the other can be knocked out”.
Since their promotion in 2019, United are yet to have beaten City in five WSL meetings. Three of those have been draws, including the last encounter in December at the Etihad Stadium, which finished 1-1 with Gareth Taylor’s side equalising through Laura Coombs.
The Red Devils – who were making their Women’s FA Cup final debut when they were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea at Wembley last Sunday – have already achieved their record WSL points haul this term, after coming fourth in each of the last three seasons.
City are looking to avoid what would be a first finish outside the European places since 2014, their inaugural WSL campaign.
Also on Sunday, relegation battlers Leicester host West Ham and could clinch safety with victory after bottom-of-the-table Reading lost 4-1 at Tottenham on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Brighton go to Everton, while Aston Villa entertain Liverpool.