Laura Bassett: Chelsea Ladies win FA Cup opener; Strengths of Azpilicueta and Matic; Exciting England future

Chelsea Ladies defender Laura Bassett discusses their FA Cup win, England's exciting future and the form of Chelsea pair Cesar Azpilicueta and Nemanja Matic. 
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Chelsea Ladies defender Laura Bassett discusses their FA Cup win, England's exciting future and the form of Chelsea pair Cesar Azpilicueta and Nemanja Matic.

 

And we're off and away! After so many months of grueling preseason work, it was great to get the campaign off to a winning start on the weekend.

We beat Bristol Academy 2-1 in the FA Cup - but only after extra time with goals from Ji So Yun and Rachel Williams.

We had such a good start to the game, with Ji So Yun scoring after just one minute. Bristol Academy looked dangerous on the counter attack and set pieces. We allowed them to get back into the game by conceding a penalty, which they converted. We were able to hold onto the ball and create goal scoring opportunities. However, it took us until the 110th minute to get that vital winning goal.

It was a hard fought, physical and draining game for both teams, but to get our first win of the competitive 2014 season, and be in the hat for the quarter final of the FA Cup was such a great feeling. The next round has already been drawn, and we travel away to Manchester City Women on April 27.

Personally, it wasn't my first piece of competitive action this year as in March I played for England in the Cyprus tournament.

It was a great experience and very enjoyable both on and off the pitch. Our new manager Mark Sampson and his staff introduced us to a new playing philosophy, which meant plenty of hard work on the training pitch and in the classroom.

We managed to win all of our group games, scoring seven goals and conceding none. The squad delivered some good performances and gained alot of positives from these games. We met France in the Final, but unfortunately, lost 2-0.

However, we relished the challenge of testing ourselves against world class opposition in the dawn of our new era. I believe that if we continue to learn and evolve, England can close the gap and become a truly consistent world class international outfit. It certainly is an exciting time to be involved.

Of course, at club level English teams are making their mark in the Women’s Champions League. My former team, Birmingham City defeated Arsenal in the quarterfinals.

The players deserve this opportunity as I know they work so hard, prepare well and have a young, success-driven and talented squad.

I am so pleased for all the committed and sincere fans, and the people who have worked tirelessly for the club for many years - what an achievement and history has been made yet again.

I wish them all the very best of luck and fate against the Swedish team Tyreso FF.

In the Premier League, it's been exciting seeing Chelsea making their own impact in the Champions League.

One of the big talking points for Blues fans has been the form of right-back Cesar Azpilicueta on the left-side of defence. As a defender, it's been fascinating to watch.

Azpilicueta is such a talented and consistent performer. If he is required to return to right back next season, i don't envisage any difficulties for him in the transition. He will just have to be mindful of his angles, distances, and body shape - when having to use the opposite shoulder to open up.

The direction of his first touch may change but his principles in attack and defence will remain the same.

In January we saw Chelsea re-sign Nemanja Matic - and I must admit, having such a defensive midfielder in front of you can only benefit the back four.

Personally, I prefer playing with a defensive midfielder in front of the back line. I believe it gives balance, stability and security to a team. Out of possession, a defensive midfielder can screen forwards and dominate the vulnerable space in front of a defence.

In possession, a disciplined and intelligent defensive midfielder can allow other defensive players to drive out with the ball and commit to the attack.

When called on, Matic has definitely made his mark and contributed to Chelsea's late season trophy run.

It promises to be an exciting final few weeks of the season - just as we're now buzzing at Chelsea Ladies for the Women’s Super League kickoff. It's a great time to be at Cobham!

 

Tickets for all Chelsea Ladies home games at Wheatsheaf Park, Staines, are available on the door priced £3 for Children and £5 for Adults or via webticketmanager.com/clfc season tickets are just £30 for Adults and £15 for concessions.

 

Follow Laura: @laurabassett6 and Chelsea Ladies: @ChelseaLFC

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