Holly Wright was in Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Hope Powell‘s media conference ahead of their home game with Chelsea on Sunday, and heard the former Lionesses star outline what her side needs to focus on against the defending champions (21/10/22).
Above: Brighton head coach Hope Powell is looking for her team to combine the stubbornness of previous seasons against Chelsea with their second half showing at Manchester United. Photo: Brighton and Hove Albion Women.
Brighton and Hove Albion are currently lacking a little bit in depth with the injuries they have got, but their former England head coach Hope Powell is optimistic that things are going in the right direction.
“It’s nice to see Stotty (Rebekah Stott) and Megan Connolly on the grass who are making really good progress. Maisie (Symonds) was in today, I think she did a bit on the bike, but it is just nice to see them in and around the building to be honest.”
Despite the tough 4-0 defeat at Manchester United last weekend, Powell will be looking to take the positives from the second-half performance into this Sunday’s game against Chelsea. “It was a tough game. First off, I don’t quite think we were at the races. The second half changed; the formation did a lot better. I think the way we ended the game against United, we certainly need to build on that going into the Chelsea game. Credit to United a very strong side with really strong depth but come Sunday again, we will give it a good go.”
The Brighton head coach added that passion and desire will be key to getting a result against yet another one of the top WSL clubs. “We recognise the ability of Chelsea and the depth and the quality they have. I think we’ve just got to take care of ourselves. We know it’s going to be tough, but we have got to be prepared for that fight. In the first half against United, the passion and desire that we generally show wasn’t there, but we showed it in the second half so I’m hoping we carry that through to the Chelsea game.
”So far, I think we have played against two top sides, and I think we are playing against another top side on Sunday. I think for us, it’s the attitude and efforts that we need to see more of. We need to see more of what we certainly saw against Arsenal. I was really proud of the players even though we got beat. If we combine the attitude (we showed) against Arsenal and the desire to win the game (that we had) against Reading, you give yourself a chance, and that’s all we can ask.”
The Seagulls haven’t had an easy start to the WSL campaign already playing what will be considered two of the top teams in their first few games, but fans will be looking at the history books hoping to conjure a similar performance together that The Blues were unable to break down earlier this year. “We know that we have to start thinking about how we perform. What our attitude is going into the game and leave everything out there. I think historically, when we’ve done that before against Chelsea, we have been really hard to beat. We had good desire, good intent, and we just need to show that again on Sunday.”
Powell explained how much of a tough opposition Chelsea actually are as well as how she plans to set her team up to upset the defending champions. “We know the strengths of Chelsea. We know they are a good team, every player in their team is an international.”
“Whether we play 10 at the back or five at the back or four at the back, there still going to overload in the channels. I think what we have to do is try and deny them that space, deny them the ball as much as we can. When we haven’t got the ball, be in good shape and be aggressive.”Hope Powell, Brighton and Hove Albion head coach.
Powell continued: “We know what we are up against, and I think we understand that they are going to have more of the ball than we do. They are going to be able to overload whether it’s out wide or through the centre. I think it’s just about us trying to negate that, where we can and build from there.”
In front of a home crowd on Sunday and off the back of a successful Euros which saw ticket sales go through the roof, Powell is hoping that they can put on a good performance for both sets of fans. “We haven’t been there (to Crawley) for a while actually. I believe we’ve sold quite a few tickets which is really good. I think on the back of the Euros our season ticket sales went up by 212% or something like that, which is fantastic.
“Chelsea have a lot of internationals, and a lot of stars so I’m sure people will want to come out not only to support us, but to see their players as well. I’m hoping that we get a good crowd and 99.9% of the crowd support Brighton to give us an extra boost.”
The 55-year-old concluded the media conference by affirming her support for equality and diversity throughout women’s football. “I think creating opportunities has certainly been spoke about during the summer. The lack of diversity on the pitch needs addressing and work needs to be done to ensure that football games are accessible to everybody and clearly it doesn’t seem to be that way.
“I know that’s something that the FA have looked at with the emerging talent centres. I guess we can be judged and juried when those centres are in place, then over a course of time we will look at it again and see whether it’s worked, or it hasn’t worked.”
Brighton and Hove Albion have yet another hard task ahead of them as they face Chelsea at Broadfield Stadium late Sunday afternoon. The game will be broadcast live on the FA Player with kick-off scheduled at 6.45pm.