With Sunday’s game unfortunately postponed, the Lionesses are looking forward to their final group match in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup tomorrow (Wednesday). A challenging test against Chelsea having won both their previous group fixtures in the cup against London sides Arsenal and Tottenham.
The Lionesses will be hoping to build on their recent strong performances by learning and gaining experience from playing against one of the top sides in the country.
What challenges will the Lionesses face against a high-class opponent like Chelsea?
Head Coach Phillips replied “We’re super grateful for our Conti Cup group. I think when you look at it, the reality is that we get to measure and test ourselves against three of the top teams in Europe and definitely in the country. So, I'm sure the game is going to provide us with some really good learning opportunities, as did the Arsenal match.
“I think the most thing that I'm probably proud of in the past two Conti Cup matches is that we didn't change who we were or who we are and who we are striving to be, to play against these opponents. We just look at how we're measuring ourselves and have a laser focus on each line and what we're trying to achieve and build confidence through that."
“It provides us with learning opportunities, but it also provides us with an opportunity to grow our identity and I think we did a fantastic job against Arsenal. The second half adjustments that the players have been able to make have been fantastic. We're coming out against extreme quality from the kick-off. But then being able to make adjustments and continue to challenge these teams in the second half to break us down and be more difficult for them to break us down is something we take a lot of pride in”.
Chelsea’s Head Coach, Emma Hayes, has been very influential in promoting and improving the women’s game in the UK. Will Phillips be able to chat to Hayes and what will she take from speaking to her to continue her personal development as head coach of London City?
“Yeah, absolutely. And I know Denise quite well, Emma’s assistant, who has come in from the states. So, I would love to chat to them after the match and get their thoughts. I think they're fantastic pioneers for the women's game and the growth of it as well."
“I know Emma posted a video not too long ago about ‘Made in America’ as your coaching Journey. In the States you really are challenged to be incredibly dynamic as a coach and to be involved in all facets of the game whether it's recruitment, psychology as well as the coaching. It's just at a different phase of it here and I'm learning a lot and enjoying it along the way but yeah, I would love to pick their brains after the game” Phillips responded.
There are a few Lionesses players with links to Chelsea, will they be trying harder to be included for Wednesday’s game?
Phillips replied “Yeah, I'm sure. Lily Pursey actually is out with a little bit of a knock at the moment. Every player takes such pride in the way that they train each week and we've made it very clear that the players who are performing at their best and executing the game plan and competing will be selected for the game each week."
“It's a fresh week to be able to prove yourself and to be able to contribute to the team. Whatever your role is, I think what we've seen in starting line-ups throughout the games so far, whether it's league or Conti Cup, is that everyone's been ready when they're called upon and that's a true testament to the preparation of the players each week”.
The Conti Cup gives the Lionesses the chance to play against the Country’s top teams. Lionesses midfielder, Lucy Fitzgerald, was able to give her view from a player’s perspective on Wednesday’s game “It will be a really good experience. I think being able to test yourself against the best players in the country and in the world will be a really great experience for everyone in the team. We will push ourselves to test them as much as we can and test ourselves against one of the best teams will be really good”.
And what type of challenge has she found playing in the Conti Cup so far this season and how does she rate Chelsea from a player’s standpoint?
Fitzgerald replied “I think it’s been a really good experience for the whole team. Playing against the best teams and players, I think we've actually learned a lot from these games. I think it's a really good experience. They’ve got some of the best players in the world. They’re obviously a really strong team so we’ve got to push ourselves and challenge ourselves against them and try and perform at our best”.
As ever you can follow the build-up to Wednesday’s game along with live match updates via the London City Lionesses Twitter feed.
By Will Oxenham Babb