Wrath of Raff calls for sweet revenge
SIZING EUROPE: FRANKFURT’S COLIN BELL
AFTER suffering final-day heartache 12 months ago, defender Claire Rafferty says she cannot face the prospect of the title slipping out of Chelsea’s hands in the same circumstances today.
The Blues go into the final day of the WSL 1 season two points clear of Manchester City knowing a win against Sunderland would give them the trophy – a situation they found themselves in last year.
That day though, defeat at City handed Liverpool the title and now England international Rafferty wants revenge.
“We lost the title at City’s ground last season and that’s a fuel to not let them win,” she said. “Last year has been mentioned a few times at the training ground and the message that we’re taking from it is to not let that happen again.
“We remember how painful it was, we don’t want to feel like that this weekend.”
Manchester City have taken 23 points from a possible 27 in the league and will be waiting to pounce should Chelsea take their eye off the ball.
And Nikita Parris is not ready to give up. “Winning trophies is why you take part in football and you want to win leagues,” said the forward, on loan from Everton.
“You want to be able to look back on your career and say, ‘Well in 2015 I won the FA WSL 1.”
“It is a very exciting time for me personally and also the team as well, because last season Manchester City were not near the top of the table.
“So it is a new experience and I am looking forward to it.”
A league title is the aim for Chelsea and Rafferty, who says her team is completely unrecognisable from when she joined from Millwall Lionesses in 2007.
“When I started we weren’t full-time, so I studied at university and worked at Deutsche Bank,” the defender added.
“Winning the title would mean that all those years of struggle were worthwhile.
“It would be a payoff of loyalty for those years when I did want to leave Chelsea, when we weren’t very good and I wanted to go and play for better teams."
Before the break for the World Cup, Chelsea were unbeaten with a ninepoint advantage over their rivals.
But after returning, they lost twice, while City are undefeated in the league, despite only winning one game before.
“I don’t think anything went wrong before the break,” added Parris.
“We brought seven new players into the team and it takes time for players to gel together but the philosophy remained the same.
“The girls last year had longer to adapt to the philosophy. The new girls have had to cope with a new system and in the first half of the season we were just getting used to it.”
Rafferty admits Chelsea struggled after the league restarted.
“We went into the Arsenal game knowing we had to win, otherwise City could potentially pull it back,” she said.
“That was the turning point for us and we started again from where we left off before the World Cup.
SHOWDOWN: Chelsea’s Claire Rafferty, left, and Manchester City striker Nikita Parris