Everyone knew Arsenal Women would be at their best to make Chelsea’s life at the Emirates a living hell. But we weren’t supposed to help them in doing so.
Unfortunately without Millie Bright on the pitch and a midfield that just can’t match the physicality of most top Women’s Super League teams, the Gunners ran havoc on our defence. They were easily able to find openings in our backline, and the standard poor refereeing of the competition went further in facilitating that throughout the first half.
Eight minutes into the match, the obvious thing happened. Bethany Mead, or “Beth” for many in the media, opened the scoring for Arsenal as Chelsea’s defence struggled to get the ball out of Ann-Katrin Berger’s small box.
It really looked like Chelsea were going to have the worst time of their lives condensed in these initial 45 minutes. But then Johanna Rytting Kaneryd offered us a tiny bit of hope with a goal to tie it at 1-1.
That was unfortunately only a glimmer, and nothing else. Arsenal returned to their usual form of running over both Chelsea midfield and defence before scoring their second goal from a corner, and a third one via Alessia Russo beating pretty much our entire defence.
Could Chelsea do anything to change the clear course of defeat? Could them suddenly bulk up and not fall on every challenge from Katie McCabe et al?
To try to address that, Emma Hayes made a triple half-time substitution with Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan and Fran Kirby all coming into the pitch. It had an impact as Chelsea were much better at holding the ball, although this was also due to Arsenal playing to protect their lead at all costs.
The comeback could have started on minute 57 when Fran Kirby was brought down in the box by an Arsenal defender. However with no VAR involved and a referee seemingly blind to any Arsenal offences, there was no way we would have been given the spot kick.
In what world is that not a penalty pic.twitter.com/5ZONVBCAD5— CfcwComps (@Compscfcw_) December 10, 2023
Speaking of refereeing, a non-existent penalty was given in favour of Arsenal just when they were not at their best with Alessia Russo doing a dolphin flip over Berger and Jess Carter. The striker herself converted the chance from the spot.
Chelsea still tried their best to get some consolation goals from the match, but we simply didn’t have the quality to match Arsenal today. Nor the refereeing goodwill to make sure everything was set in place for the hosts to end our unbeaten streak.
- Maren Mjelde starts in central defence as Millie Bright is still out of contention due to injury. Guro Reiten on the bench.
- Subs are Ashley Lawrence for Ève Périsset, Kadeisha Buchanan for Maren Mjelde, Fran Kirby for Sjoeke Nüsken, Guro Reiten for Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, and Mia Fishel for Lauren James.
- Johanna Rytting Kaneryd finally coming into her own this season. Goals and assists consistently coming through!
- Defence and midfield were both completely out of depth in the initial 45 minutes. Every challenge went Arsenal’s way as Chelsea simply couldn’t hold onto the ball.
- Good showing from the subs after the first half, with Buchanan and Lawrence more than holding their own in defence and Kirby giving a bit more midfield stability.
- We did enough to ruin the match for ourselves. Poor refereeing just gave it the final push to make this a sh*tshow.
- Next up: BK Häcken at home in the Women’s Champions League.