‘Fear is like fire' – Emma Hayes uses Mike Tyson quote to motivate Chelsea side

PA Sport staff

Emma Hayes quoted former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson as she urged Chelsea to embrace the challenge of chasing a fourth straight Women's Super League title.

Boss Hayes had expressed some unhappiness with the table-topping Blues' performance after the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.

With the Gunners and Manchester United breathing down their necks, Hayes has urged her side to keep pushing ahead of Sunday's home clash with Liverpool.

The 46-year-old told a press conference: “This team has won a lot and been at the top for a long period of time.

“But it's not a future predictor of success, and I think for our team, it's so important that we understand that it's never easy, but most importantly, you have to keep finding something else if want to stay there.

“I will demand the utmost from our team, and I will demand the most from our fans too. I want to make sure the fans demand the most from the team, in a time where everything's tight.

“I think as a team, as a club, we have to keep pushing on all fronts if we're going to end up where we want to.”

She then added: “As Mike Tyson said, fear is like a fire – it will either warm you or it will burn you.

“And the realities are that you have to be mindful that there's always a threat. Whether that threat is yourself, whether it's the opponent, that threat is there, it's real.

“My job every day is firstly to remind myself that I want fire to warm me, but my job is to make sure it does exactly the same to my entire team. Otherwise, if it burns you, it will destroy you.

“When you're serial winners like we are, the next steps for me are the ones that you have to be even more mindful of, than the past.”

Chelsea are three points clear – having played a game more – of both Arsenal and Manchester United, who moved into second spot last weekend with a 6-0 thrashing of Liverpool at Leigh Sports Village.

Ninth-placed Liverpool's boss Matt Beard apologised to fans after that game, saying he was “embarrassed”.

And ahead of the trip to Chelsea, who the promoted Reds beat 2-1 in a shock result on the opening weekend of the season, former Blues manager Beard said: “We've had a really positive week training, it's been a good response.

“I'm not going to let one performance in a year-and-a-half ruin what's been a team that's performed week in, week out.

“We were desperately disappointed with the result and performance level. But it's happened, and we need just to (use as) fuel that frustration, anger, embarrassment, whatever word you want to use, and take that forward into the remaining games.

“We've played them (Chelsea) once, we beat them, so we can take confidence from that day.”

Arsenal and United have away games against 11th-placed Brighton and 10th-placed Reading respectively.

Everton and West Ham face off at Walton Hall Park, while Tottenham host bottom side Leicester, looking to end a run of five straight league defeats.

Spurs have brought in Arsenal midfielder Mana Iwabuchi on loan for the rest of the season, to add to the signing of forward Bethany England from Chelsea.

Spurs boss Rehanne Skinner said: “Collectively we want to make sure we are looking after possession in a way that helps us to develop a game with a purpose and recognising the right time to do the right things.

“Mana has certainly got an awareness that will help us to add value to that. When you add the two of them, they are two really important players who will help us to be more effective.”