Emma Hayes declared Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby “out of this world” after their latest double act helped Chelsea cruise to victory in the Women’s FA Cup final.
Kirby set the Blues on course for a 3-0 win over Arsenal with a third-minute goal and Kerr struck twice in the second half – her second a fine chipped finish – as Hayes’ side completed a belated domestic treble after the pandemic had delayed the Wembley showpiece.
“The front two were out of this world,” Hayes said.
“I said to Fran, I think it’s the best I’ve seen her play for Chelsea and Sam’s confidence is growing,” the Chelsea boss told the BBC.
Kirby celebrates after opening the scoring against Arsenal
Speaking at her post-match press conference, Hayes added: “I thought Fran ran the show. She got on the ball, was a threat and real handful throughout the game.
“Kerr wondered how she would cope in the English game. As far as I’m concerned, she’s the best striker in the world.
“She’s courageous and full of confidence, can do that after getting off a plane from Australia on Thursday.
“They (Kirby and Kerr) are two of many, many characters in this dressing room who are noteworthy for their performances today.
“London is blue. And when the third goal went in, I was simply purring!”
Hayes admitted she had been confident about her side’s chances against record 14-times FA Cup winners Arsenal, despite the Gunners’ statement WSL victory at the start of this season.
“I saw it coming,” she said. “I see the standards every day.
“I thought we were like a machine today from start to finish.
“Real credit must go not just to the players but also to the backroom staff. It’s our treble from last year, and I really did not believe that there would be another outcome.
Chelsea lift the trophy after beating Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup final
“The confidence, the calm nature in our dressing room was unbelievable before the game.
“I know everyone talks a lot about the opening day of the season [when Arsenal beat Chelsea in the Women’s Super League]. We won today, we can’t read into it anymore.”
Hayes dampens Kerr’s party plans!
Chelsea’s Sam Kerr celebrates scoring the second goal against Arsenal
Hayes paid tribute to an “amazing achievement” by her treble-winners – but dampened Kerr’s party hopes ahead of a midweek Champions League fixture against Juventus.
A grinning Kerr said after her double: “I can’t wait to party! It wouldn’t go in in the first half – it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 but we knew that if we kept pushing at some point they would go in.”
Hayes, speaking to the BBC, quipped back: “Zero chance of celebration! The bus is leaving, they’re going home, they know the deal: we need to win on Wednesday!”
But the Chelsea boss reflected with contentment on her players’ application.
“I thought we got it spot-on. We’ve painted Wembley blue, it’s a Chelsea day. Our performance was superb.
“To think we’re treble-winners is an amazing achievement. I’m extremely proud of the players, the staff, the club. We’ve built this team over a period of time and today I think we showed why we were champions.”
Kerr and Kirby’s WSL dominance
Kerr and Kirby secured cup silverware for Chelsea and the duo have been dominant in the Women’s Super League.
Kerr (9) leads the way for WSL goals, with Kirby not far behind, and the pair are among the league’s top playmakers, with Kirby creating 22 chances so far this term and Kerr 16.
Chelsea’s first goal came from a high press – a metric for which Kirby and her team-mate rank highly – and the Sky Sports Power Rankings also paint a picture of ‘Kerrby’ dominance.
Eidevall rues Arsenal mistakes
Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall admitted his side were way under par on the big occasion.
“In this game we are doing better in the second half but we still had the same problem that we lose the ball at very bad times,” said Eidevall.
“At those moments Chelsea can expose us on the counter-attack.
“If they get time and space and run against you, they’re world-class players, and you can’t let Chelsea do it that many times and expect a good result.
“It was not effort that was at fault. The players tried to do everything on the pitch but the quality for us as a team, it was not there today.”