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Emergency surgery to Chelsea glory: Emma Hayes’ extraordinary season

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“M aybe that’s why it’s my favourite year. My own personal health issues, that was frigging hard,” said Emma Hayes after Chelsea’s 2-0 victory against Arsenal ensured they moved to within one win of a fourth successive title.

What an understatement. That Chelsea are within touching distance of a third league and FA Cup double in a row, with Hayes’s emergency hysterectomy an almost forgotten footnote, is remarkable.

It has been a long a season but Chelsea’s ability to cope with the loss of Hayes towards the start of the campaign, the influential centre-back Millie Bright towards the end of it and Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby for huge chunks of the season speaks to a level of squad management and personnel development that is second to none.

It has not been as straightforward a march as in recent years but it has been patient and consistent. Critically, Chelsea have stepped up a gear in May, winning all five league games, scoring 21 goals and conceding one.

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