Emma Hayes wary of Bethany England threat as Chelsea travel to Tottenham

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is wary of former player Bethany England coming back to hurt their Women’s Super League title challenge when they visit Tottenham on Sunday.

Hayes allowed forward England to leave last month and join Spurs in a deal understood to be a record between WSL clubs.

A reunion occurred on January 25 when Chelsea won 3-1 against Tottenham in the Continental Cup quarter-finals but with the champions behind leaders Manchester United on goal difference, the Blues boss is eager for them not to slip up this weekend.

“Bethany going to bring goals to that team,” Hayes told a press conference.

“She links well. Her leadership from the front, experience from being at a team like ours, she will be bringing a lot to Tottenham’s frontline and we certainly know the threats she will be bringing to our defence.

“They’re always a tough team to play against. We had to work hard to get into a good position, make changes from the bench.

“They’ve improved their playing squad in the January window and because of that – and players coming back from injury – they will be even tougher to beat.”

Opposite number Rehanne Skinner was pleased with Tottenham’s display in defeat to Chelsea and watched her inconsistent side clinch a 5-0 win over Championship pace-setters London City last time out in the FA Cup.

Nevertheless, Spurs have lost their last five games in the WSL to drop to eighth and two points off the relegation zone.

Skinner said: “I never got carried away when we were sitting in a Champions League spot (last season) because it is part of the process. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

“Every game matters and the most important one is the one in front of us, that’s all I’m focused on.

“We’ve got nothing to lose at the weekend and we want to try and improve results, not just performances.”

Leaders United host fifth-placed Everton with boss Marc Skinner happy to still have Alessia Russo in their ranks after standing firm and rejecting a number of deadline-day bids from Arsenal.

Skinner spent some time this week reminding his players of the club’s history ahead of another key fixture in their title tilt.

“The 65th anniversary of the Munich disaster is coming up and for us, the key messaging from our group was about the resilience, togetherness and the overcoming of a tragedy together and how it built the foundations for this wonderful and special club that we are all a part of and we all love,” he said.

“I reminded them about that and I reminded them about our history and what it means to be a Manchester United player, so for us it will be about, no matter what’s thrown at us….I think finding the resilience and the togetherness will be the key messaging.”

Arsenal, who are three points off the summit, travel to West Ham looking to regroup after failing to land Russo following long-term injuries to forward duo Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema.

Manager Jonas Eidevall said: “The squad that we have, I have a lot of belief in that squad.

“I think they have so much potential and we have so much potential in what we can achieve together and that we need to focus on.

“But we need to work together in order to understand that we will have a tighter squad that will need to play a lot of games together and we need to keep a really high standard.”

Elsewhere, ninth-placed Liverpool host Reading – one place below them – with both looking to claim a first league win of 2023.