A packed Kingsmeadow for the biggest match of our season, as we took on league leaders Arsenal with hopes of overtaking them. While we have a game in hand over the Gunners, this is still one of those “six-point matches” that are crucial to title bids on either side.
The Blues had the better start, as usual in our home turf, with Pernille Harder creating a great chance for Fran Kirby. However her fellow attacker did not do well with the attempt at goal, as the ball flew way over the crossbar.
The Gunners tried to answer using Beth Mead’s arsenal, and pushing up their lines to put pressure on Chelsea’s defence. It almost worked, with Vivianne Miedema hitting the post in one of her shots at our goal.
Arsenal’s spell of dominance and danger woke up Chelsea at the end of the first half. We tried to create a flurry of chances in their defensive third, but none were good enough to break the deadlock in a rather tense affair.
From the start of the second half, the hosts would show how they were in for the win. Jonna Andersson almost scored a wonderful goal off a corner by Erin Cuthbert, and Sam Kerr whiffed a great cross from Harder.
Opposing goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger would soon become the major stumbling block in Chelsea’s path towards victory. She almost gave Harder a chance to score from a rebound, but the Danish star slipped before getting a proper shot. Then Guro Reiten took her chance, but it was straight at the Austrian shot-stopper’s hands.
It was then Arsenal who got a grip of the occasion. While manager Emma Hayes took her time to make changes to our team, the opposition’s substitutes — especially Nikita Parris — started to show what they were in for.
Eight minutes of stoppage time in the second half would be rather nervy for either side. Neither of which could come up with a goal, in what was a very eventful goalless draw at Kingsmeadow today not at all helped by some horrendous refereeing which completely ignored a late handball by Arsenal.
- Ann-Katrin Berger gets the starting nod at goalkeeping, and we go with maximum attacking power with Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder all in the eleven. Big games demand big guns!
- Subs are Ji So-yun for Erin Cuthbert, Jessie Fleming for Fran Kirby, and Niamh Charles for Guro Reiten.
- That first half was atypical for Chelsea at Kingsmeadow. Arsenal got too close to comfort, and we were a bit lucky not to fall behind in the scoreline given the chances they got.
- Get well soon, Erin!
- We need to make earlier substitutions.
- Next up: Leicester City in the FA Cup’s round of 16.