Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes has warned Arsenal that her side will be ready for a battle when the two teams meet in their upcoming WSL opener.
It's a mouth-watering affair to start the season, with Hayes' defending champions going up against an Arsenal side who finished third in the table last year and have already signalled their intent for the new season by signing Nikita Parris, Tobin Heath, Mana Iwabuchi, Frida Maanum and Simone Boye Sorensen.
In her press conference ahead of the game, Hayes confessed to being well aware of the scale of the challenge facing her side, but she was equally as confident about Chelsea's ability to go out and make a real statement early on.
"Arsenal have history of great teams and winning long before I was the manager of Chelsea," said Hayes (via the club's official website). "They have always stood tall across Europe and in this country and they have done in every season that I have been here. Our games have always been an incredible battle and I don’t expect Sunday to be any different.
"It’s a new manager, he’s got new ideas and a lot of new players to integrate. I don’t have a lot of new players to integrate but I haven’t had the same level of time with them that’s he’s had.
"Them playing European games have helped them to prepare going into the season but I’m the sort of person to manage whatever situation we have and I’m pretty sure we will present ourselves in the best possible way on Sunday."
Hayes went on to reveal her excitement towards a return to normality. Fans will be back in the stadiums and the boss encouraged her team to channel that energy in search of a crucial three points.
"I’ve really enjoyed pre-season," she continued. "We’ve had to integrate two groups: those who have been away at the Olympics and those who have been here, and that transition has been really nice.
"Covid was tough last year so I want to enjoy what I’m doing, enjoy the players and enjoy the privileged position I’m in. I’m raring to go and I know the players are too. This is a new season with new opportunities, and we look forward to taking them.
"I’m looking forward to seeing our fans. I know how much the team mean to them and how much they’ve missed being apart from the team.
"We welcome them back this Sunday and look forward to another epic game between two fantastic teams."