Chelsea manager Emma Hayes says her team “are miles better than last year” after the reigning Women’s Super League champions thrashed Manchester United 6-1 at Leigh Sports Village,
Last season, the Blues won the WSL and the Women’s League Cup and finished runners-up in the Champions League.
They are in the FA Cup quarter-finals and are now third in the WSL table.
Ominously for their rivals, Hayes also said: “I didn’t think we were very good today.”
Fran Kirby put Chelsea ahead in the second minute with her 50th WSL goal and Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr had them cruising by half-time.
United substitute Alessia Russo briefly reduced the arrears but further goals from Kerr, Drew Spence and Jessica Fleming underlined the Blues’ superiority.
Despite this, Hayes was not pleased with what she saw.
“I thought we were poor by our standards in the first half,” she told BBC Sport. “I expect another level and I think we’re a better team than we’ve ever been.”
Chelsea were stung by an opening WSL defeat against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium but have bounced back to win their next two matches, ending United’s 100% record in the process.
Harder, whose goal was a stunning individual effort, was delighted with the result and echoed the thoughts of her manager.
“We can get better all the time,” she said.
“We’re developing every game – we’re better than last season and I think we can keep doing it.”
‘Made a statement’ – what the pundits said
Former Arsenal and England forward Kelly Smith was watching as a pundit on BBC Two and was impressed with what she saw.
“When Chelsea lost the ball, the intent, desire and passion was there,” she said. “They wanted to come back after the international break and make a statement to the rest of the league.
“They’ve done that with six goals today.”
Ex-England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis said: “Chelsea were just far too much for Manchester United – too much quality, too much energy.
“This was a well-oiled gameplan executed brilliantly by Emma Hayes’ side.”
Fara Williams, who made 172 appearances for England, said: “Chelsea were phenomenal today.”