Hayes urges Chelsea to banish final Blues by clipping Seagulls' wings
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes is confident their disappointing 3-1 Continental Cup final defeat by Arsenal will trigger a response when they host Brighton in the Women’s Super League on Wednesday.
Sam Kerr netted the opener inside two minutes at Selhurst Park on Sunday but the Gunners staged a stunning comeback and were in control by half-time thanks to a Stina Blackstenius equaliser, captain Kim Little’s penalty and Niamh Charles’ own goal.
Third-placed Chelsea are hunting their fourth straight WSL title and sit four points behind leaders Manchester United, with two games in hand on them and second-placed Manchester City.
Hayes, 46, thinks the midweek match-up with strugglers Brighton could be just the opportunity Chelsea need to bounce back, saying: "Any opponent you just want to go again.
"We’ve just got to be ready. We’re at home, for us the focus has to be back on the league.
"The team are disappointed, everybody’s disappointed with the way we performed. So I expect there will be a reaction from the group, and that’s what I think I hold so dearly about this team, that I know there will be a response."
Chelsea have won four out of the last five WSL trophies, losing only to Arsenal in 2019 — until Sunday the Gunners’ most recent silverware.
The Blues also lifted the FA Cup in 2021 and 2022 and were Conti Cup champions in 2020 and 2021, finishing runners-up to Manchester City last season.
Hayes added: "We’ve won the vast majority of titles over the last four years.
"I don’t think winning everything all the time is a normal thing. I think the better team won, but it’s just the game."
Sunday’s League Cup final was a sell-out with the 19,010 who made the trip to South London part of a record-breaking Conti Cup crowd — around 11,000 more than last campaign’s decider held at AFC Wimbledon.
Arsenal and Chelsea are both still in the running for the Champions League title, with the first leg of the quarter-finals taking place later this month.