Hayes downbeat on WSL title race: Chelsea have slim chance

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has said her side only have a “small chance” of retaining their Women’s Super League title this season, despite having a chance to level leaders Manchester City if they can win both of their games in hand.

Hayes’ side trail City by six points, with two games in hand, although inferior goal difference.

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“We’re not in the driving seat,” Hayes told a news conference on Tuesday. “We don’t have the goal difference, so as far as I’m concerned, we have to catch up.

“We’ve always known we were going to be playing catch-up. It’s not anything we haven’t prepared for.”

The WSL is the only trophy the title holders have left to play for, having been in contention for a quadruple this time last month. Chelsea lost the League Cup final 1-0 to Arsenal in March before being knocked out of the FA Cup in the semifinal 2-1 against Manchester United two weeks later.

On Saturday, Chelsea were knocked out of the Women’s Champions League semifinals by holders Barcelona. Despite winning the first leg in a historic victory, ending the Catalan’s five-season-long unbeaten streak at home, Chelsea succumbed to a 2-0 defeat, after which Hayes slammed the refereeing, saying her side were “robbed.”

Admitting she is happy to be back playing in the WSL, Hayes’ attention returns to Chelsea’s final four games before she departs the club at the end of the season after 12 years to become the new head coach of the United States women’s national team. The Blues travel to Liverpool on Wednesday before hosting relegated Bristol City in Hayes’ last home in charge of Chelsea.

“We have moved on,” Hayes said. “We had a day off, we have discussed our objectives, and now focus on this game.

“After any loss, one of the worst things you can have is a big period of time between the loss and the next game. We don’t have time to dwell on exiting.

“We have to continue. We’ve got a small chance of winning the league, so we have to put everything into doing that.”

Chelsea have not ended a campaign without silverware since the 2018-19 season. While they have secured a place in the Champions League next term along with Manchester City and Arsenal, Chelsea now face a battle to lift the trophy for a fifth consecutive season.