Saturday, May 14, 2022

The FA Cup final offers a chance for revenge but Man City can punish us as Man Utd almost did

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I felt powerless on the bench after our 3-1 loss to Manchester City in the Continental Cup final, but with the double in our sights we want to end the season in style at Wembley

We have the added motivation of avenging our Continental Cup final loss to City in March, but for at least the first few days of this week I tried to put all thoughts of Wembley aside.

Sunday is the final day of the Women’s FA Cup and over 50,000 people will be at Wembley to watch as we attempt to defend our trophy against Manchester City.

As a footballer you don’t stop and think about your achievements. You’re always looking for the next challenge. This is my fault as much as anyone else, but after securing the WSL title on Sunday, I said to myself, “No, Magda. Enjoy this moment.”

I remembered that we have now won three league titles in a row – and four in my five seasons at Chelsea. It’s a massive achievement considering how competitive WSL have become over the last two seasons and how we’ve managed to do it – from trailing 2-1 at half-time to beat Manchester United 4-2 and Arsenal around overtaking a point – was unbelievable.

It reflected our entire season as we weren’t totally dominant but had to capitulate. Our performances have been up and down but luckily we know what it takes to win and we’ve only had one really bad week – when we lost to Reading and were knocked out of the Champions League in December.

The reaction in the dressing room at half-time last weekend was very revealing of the culture of our team. It was a far cry from that stand-up-and-yell culture.

Although I’m the captain I don’t want to be the person who tells everyone what to do and before the coaches came in we had a good discussion with various players who got involved. We knew we’d been in these situations before and knew we had the quality to turn it around.

Then Emma Hayes, our manager, walked in and delivered a clear and calm message. She was very rational and simply made the tactical changes – in short, to be more aggressive.

We came out in front, Sam Kerr scored the first of their two incredible goals and we just kept going from there. I have to admit I was shocked when Sam went in with his second goal to make it 4-2, but this is Sam – she can score any type of goal and has been so consistent this season.

I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to stay like she did in every game. (And I’d advise any reader who hasn’t seen Sam’s second salvo to check them out below…)

I also have to thank our fans because we had over 4,000 at Kingsmeadow and I’m not sure we would have come back without them. I remember last season when we won the league in front of zero fans and no friends and family present.

We couldn’t go out and enjoy the success but this time there was a large crowd waiting for us and our friends and family including my parents who had come over from Sweden. We’re professionals, but believe me, these things are important. The fans add to the emotions and knowing that you can go in and celebrate with your loved ones makes it even more special.

At this stage of a season, there’s also an air of sadness about teammates leaving. It meant so much to me to see Jonna Andersson, Drew Spence and Ji-So Yun hold the WSL trophy in their hands one last time. They all have a great presence in our team and for me personally it’s a big loss that Jonna is leaving as we also played together in Linköpings in Sweden for four years. Too bad we clashed last Sunday because she gave me a black eye to say goodbye!

Of course we’re not done yet and we want to end the season with a cup final win. I can still remember my first game at Wembley with Chelsea and the size of the dressing room. It’s always special to play there and as I mentioned before we have that extra incentive to come back from our 3-1 loss to City in the Continental Cup finals.

It was a tough day all round – it was my first game back from injury and I was pretty powerless on the bench. We actually started very well on the pitch, but ended the game badly and they showed that they are a very strong team with a lot of experience and quality in the squad. It was a lesson for us that you can’t give them anything or give them momentum against such a team as they have the ability to punish us. Man United reminded us of that last Sunday and it’s something we need to remember at Wembley.

Magda Eriksson is a Chelsea FC women’s team captain, a Sweden international and a columnist for I

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