Willie Kirk

Chelsea Pose Great Challenge, Says Kirk

After having their first point of the season taken away in the final minutes of the game against West Ham United, LCFC Women entertain league leaders Chelsea on Saturday afternoon at King Power Stadium.
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Despite residing in 12th place of the Barclays Women’s Super League, manager Willie Kirk believes Leicester are developing well, and look forward to this weekend’s challenge against the current WSL champions.

Speaking in the lead up to the contest, during Thursday afternoon's virtual pre-match press conference from Belvoir Drive, he gave his views on a range of topics... 

Tough opposition

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Chelsea FC Women
Chelsea FC Women

Chelsea celebrate Guro Reiten's goal in their Barclays Women's Super League match against Tottenham Hotspur.

With seven wins from eight in the WSL, scoring 20 goals in the process, and a 100 per cent in the UEFA Women's Champions League group stage, the Blues have firmly set their sights on a third consecutive league title. While acknowledging their talents, Kirk is focusing on what the Foxes can do to combat their threats. 

“The challenge that Chelsea pose is world class,” City's manager stated. “Emma Hayes has done a great job over the 10 years, and this current team is the best she’s ever had.

“It’s certain to be a big challenge but I like to think that we’re looking forward to it, rather than shrinking at the prospect. If we can attempt to play our style of football against the best, then it will allow us to gain points following the same method throughout the season.

“Chelsea have always found a way round teams, that’s what makes them one of the best, but we’ll have our game plan to try and assert ourselves on the game, like we did against West Ham.

“We want to create more chances in games, and we’ve worked a lot on that in training. We need to try and keep hold of the ball, and cause Chelsea a little bit of stress. If you’re going to take points from them, you need every aspect of your game to be as good as possible.

“That level of near-perfect is what we’re aiming to be, and we’ll relish the challenge of playing one of the best teams in the world on Saturday.”

Building from Hammers' defeat

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Hannah Cain
Hannah Cain

Hannah Cain during an LCFC Women's training session at Belvoir Drive.

Looking back to the late defeat at Chigwell Construction Stadium a couple of weeks ago, Kirk reiterates how it has only fuelled fire into his team, and that the result hasn’t dampened their targets.

“It felt different to previous defeats," the Scot admitted. “Other late goals felt more painful, whereas this one made us focused and determined.

“I think everyone recognised we were the better team that day so it’s more frustration than anything else. We were unfortunate to concede late.

“There are improvements every day, and those first points are getting closer. I’m sure we will get them, and we will build on it once we do. We’ve got a long-term plan over the course of the season, and everyone is very focused on achieving that.

“It’s all moving in a positive direction, we just need to give the players something tangible by getting that first win, so that they have achieved something for their efforts that they’ve been putting in.

“In the four weeks that I’ve been in charge, every day has felt different. The players are always engaged and focused on how we want to play, and there’s still a lot of learning and development to go.

“None of the players arrive in the morning lacking the motivation to improve.”

Belief in the plan

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Willie Kirk
Willie Kirk

Willie Kirk takes charge of LCFC Women for the third time this weekend.

When asked about City’s target for their meeting with Chelsea, the manager spoke about how every game must be taken as an opportunity to get points on the board.

”The former Everton Women boss explained: “I’d love to say those first points are only two days away, but if they’re not, then we’ll go again against Liverpool.

We need points without a doubt, the league table doesn’t lie, but we’re only interested in what it says at the end of the season. There’s a realisation that we’re in a relegation fight. We’re setting high standards daily, and that doesn’t reflect how many points we have on the board.

“We’re confident we’ll accumulate the points we need to stay in the WSL, to allow the club to build towards a positive future. We’ve had a good balance in training with in and out of possession work. Both will need to be utilised at the weekend if we’re going to take anything from it.

“The players are building more and more belief into the new style of play as they build a familiarity with it, and now it’s just about seeing the benefit. As professionals, we striving to do our job to the best of our abilities and that’s what we’re trying to do as a Club.

“All I ask of every player is to do their job, which in turn can help the team. We’re still finding out about the players, by testing them every day, so there’s still opportunities to be taken.”

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