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Beating Arsenal far more than matter of life and death, explains Chelsea legend Emma Hayes

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Chelsea DNA through and through

Arsenal v Chelsea - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Sunday’s game was the 202nd of Emma Hayes’ already legendary Chelsea career. So just another day at the office then, for the longest-serving manager at the club since John Neal in the early ‘80s. (And since Neal lasted 203 games, Hayes will soon pass him to become the longest-serving manager of a senior Chelsea squad since Dave Sexton’s 371 games in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.)

Obviously, I’m commingling men’s and women’s records here, but Hayes is as Chelsea as it gets. She knows what it means to win a rivalry match, especially to win it at their stadium, and to win it in such emphatic style as Sunday’s 4-1 trouncing of Arsenal at Meadow Park — as she explained after the game, referencing the famous Bill Shankly quote.

“We play for the badge; we play for out football club and our club means everything to our dressing room, so this is rivalry game and it matters. You’re absolutely right that it’s not a matter of life or death, it’s far more than that.”

-Emma Hayes; source: Vavel

Guess who the men’s team play next?

When Hayes was hired in 2012, Arsenal were the champions. Her vision was to dethrone them as the best team in the land. She’s won the league three times since. But Arsenal were back at the top last season for the first time since 2012, and the former Arsenal assistant has her sights set on dethroning them once again. With a game-in-hand, unbeaten Chelsea are back on track to do so.

“There’s no gloating, there’s no over the top reaction and nor should there be. This is three points and that’s it. Yeah that’s nice (beating Arsenal twice in the league), but we still didn’t beat Brighton away and we still didn’t beat Liverpool away. Perhaps we could’ve been further away, but we’re not.”

-Emma Hayes; source: Vavel

If you’re not first, you’re last. And Hayes isn’t willing to settle for not first.

We could use that sort of determination on Tuesday night as well.