Wrath of Raff calls for sweet re­venge

SIZ­ING EUROPE: FRANK­FURT’S COLIN BELL

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Thomas McIl­roy

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.

Ex­pe­ri­ence

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.

De­sire

“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.

PIC­TURE: The FA

SHOW­DOWN: Chelsea’s Claire Raf­ferty, left, and Manch­ester City striker Nikita Par­ris

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