Laura Bassett: Chelsea Ladies pleased with season start; loving the FA Cup; in defence of Fernando Torres

Laura Bassett says Chelsea Ladies are pleased with their start to the season and reflects on Fernando Torres' work-rate and the Blues defence handling the absence of Petr Cech. 
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Laura Bassett says Chelsea Ladies are pleased with their start to the season and reflects on Fernando Torres' work-rate and the Blues defence handling the absence of Petr Cech.

 

It's been a good start to the Women’s Super League season for Chelsea Ladies.

To face the 2013 champions, Liverpool and runners up Bristol within days of each other and come away with four points is respectable and pleasing.

I think we have shown we are hungry and driven this season. We have laid a solid foundation for us to build on now and to kick on and maintain our form.

We're also pleased with our Cup form, beating Manchester City in the FA Cup and Reading in the Continental Cup last week.

The FA Cup is always such a special competition for all involved. I know and fully embrace how much it means to our club. Our quarter final tie with Manchester City was a scrappy spectacle. We were disappointed in our overall performance, we didn't hold onto the ball as much as we like or create as many chances as we normally do. Having said that, we were clinical with the chances we did create, gave a real gutsy and gritty performance and worked hard off the ball.

Manchester City posed a lot of problems especially in the second half with their impressive link up play. But we remained hard to beat and absorbed the pressure and it was pleasing to maintain our record of not conceding so far this season in open play.

It was great to be able to introduce and see Rachel Williams and Katie Chapman starting for the first time this season. Hopefully within the next week or two we can welcome back some of our other injured players too.

Everyone connected to the WSL is delighted with the coverage and support we're receiving this season.

I have seen the media coverage consistently increase each year since the WSL started in 2011. Currently the BBC show our World Cup Qualifiers for the national team, the FA Cup Final and a Women's Football Review Show every other week. BT Sport and BBC Radio XL cover selected WSL games too. The support and backing from these productions are huge and makes women's football more accessible and generates more interest.

The opening games in the 2014 season have seen a rise in average attendances at all fixtures, which is pleasing. We need to continue to keep making these small but strong increases year upon year.

An when we're talking about improvements, despite the disappointment of missing out the Champions League final, Chelsea fans can be proud of the players' efforts - no matter what happens in the remainder of this season.

It's been interesting watching how Chelsea's defence have adjusted to Petr Cech's season-ending injury and Mark Schwarzer stepping in so late in the campaign.

In this particular situation, a working relationship and bond always must be restored as soon as possible. This can be done on the training pitch - practicing and solving as many different scenarios as possible under realistic pressure during sessions. In these scenarios, the defenders and Schwarzer would have established areas of strengths, weaknesses and differences compared to working with Cech. Once these areas have been practiced and communicated, then trust and faith will have been restored.

It was good to see Fernando Torres on the scoresheet against Atletico Madrid. I am sure his teammates appreciate the amount of work he puts in during games.

I feel it is very important for forwards to work hard to win the ball back along with the rest of the team - it is a team effort. However, forwards are in an early advanced position to dictate and control a lot of factors. For example, forwards can dictate the pressing line, direction of the press and the tempo of the press giving the team behind them key defending triggers to work from.

To see a forward with a desire and willingness to apply pressure and win the ball back, lifts and ignites the rest of the team and gives a psychological edge and sets the standards.

It can also be tough facing such a threat.

Defending against a forward with a high work ethic like Torres, doesn't allow you to settle on the ball, this can lead to mistakes, forcing the pass and could potentially affect the confidence of the defender to even take possession of the ball.

I am sure Gary Cahill and John Terry would acknowledge the contribution of Torres' work rate as a key factor in the team's exceptional defensive record this season.

 

The FA Women's Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Arsenal takes place on Sunday May 11 at 2pm at Woking FC’s Kingfield Stadium, for more information and tickets visit: chelseafc.com/chelsea-ladies

 

Follow Laura: @laurabassett6 and Chelsea Ladies: @ChelseaLFC

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