A potential title-deciding match will rarely ever be a walk in the park even for teams dominating the league. Chelsea were certainly suffering from that kind of nervousness today, with the central midfield pairing of Erin Cuthbert and Sophie Ingle failing to contend with their Arsenal counterparts at the Emirates.
Lauren James was the brightest part of the first few minutes of the match on Chelsea’s side, as the winger beat Arsenal’s midfield and defence all by herself to nearly score one of the best goals of the year. Meanwhile Magda Eriksson held her own on the left side of defence, shutting down threats and making Zecira Musovic’s job at goalkeeping much easier.
Still there was much to be done in the second half to salvage the match for us. Outside of Lauren’s brilliance the Blues were unable to move past their own half with the needed ease to get even a scent of a goal.
No changes were made however, and Chelsea continued to be pressured by the hosts without any proper answers to give. Eventually Arsenal were handed a penalty from a Niamh Charles foul outside of the area, that Kim Little would not miss.
Fran Kirby was finally introduced to the pitch more than 60 minutes into the game and Chelsea found somewhat of a resurgence upfront. But it was Jelena Cankovic instead who came from the bench and made a superb cross to find Sam Kerr in the box so the Australian striker could head the tying goal into the back of the net.
- Zecira Musovic gets a chance to shine between the posts in one of the biggest games of the season.
- Subs are Ève Perissét for Niamh Charles, Fran Kirby for Jessie Fleming, Jelena Cankovic for Sophie Ingle, and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd for Magda Eriksson.
- Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert were simply not clicking today. Shambolic midfield leading to the attack not being able to do anything.
- An out of tune defence did not help either, although Arsenal’s lack of proper finishing given Vivianne Miedema’s absence due to injury was a boon to Musovic.
- In a second half screaming for Fran Kirby, we only get her on the pitch after Arsenal’s opener. Gotta question Emma Hayes’ line of thought for this decision since Kirby played 90 minutes against Paris Saint-Germain last month.
- Can we get Jelena Cankovic more starts, pretty please?
- Next up: Liverpool at Kingsmeadow for the Women’s Super League.