WSL: Arsenal v Chelsea
An afternoon at the Emirates ended all square between the top of the table giants
16 January 2023
Sam Kerr headed in a late equaliser for Chelsea as they drew 1-1 away at London rivals Arsenal on Sunday. Kim Little had given the home side the lead from the penalty spot as the top two in the WSL at the start of the day took on each other at the Emirates Stadium in front of 40,000+ fans.
Jonas Eidevall named Arsenal’s new January signings, Victoria Pelova and Kathrine Kuhl, and the returning from loan, Gio, on the bench. There were three changes from their last match which was a 9-1 win against Zurich in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Emma Hayes made one change from Chelsea’s last match, when they beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 in the Champions League, with Jessie Fleming coming in for Fran Kirby.
There was a good atmosphere inside the Emirates throughout the match. Chelsea were defending the goal the sun was shining towards in the first half. Chelsea’s Lauren James had the first chance in the 6th minute when she went on a powerful run forward which ended with a shot wide. The home sides first effort came four minutes later when Stina Blackstenius played in Lina Hurtig but her shot was saved by Zecira Musovic.
Arsenal had another chance a minute later when Caitlin Foord’s shot from an angle was saved. Musovic made another save in the 13th minute to keep out Hurtig’s effort. The Gunners were defending well with Leah Williamson and Rafaelle both making important blocks. Frida Maanum had the hosts next opportunity in the 21st minute but her shot from the edge of the area was saved.
It was Chelsea’s chance to defend well in the 30th minute when Kadeisha Buchanan headed behind a Lia Walti shot. Hurtig had another effort a minute later but this time she shot into the side netting.
Chelsea ended the half well and had a couple of corners around the 38th minute mark, and then with the final action before half time, Kerr headed a corner wide.
The first chance of the second half went Arsenal’s way when Hurtig’s headed was saved and then caught by Musovic in the 54th minute.
Arsenal were awarded a penalty two minutes later when Foord and Niamh Charles tangled as they went into the area. Referee Emily Heaslip, who was in a good position, gave the spot kick after Foord went down. Little made no mistake from 12-yards to give the home side the lead.
The Gunners had a couple of chances to extend their lead over the next ten minutes with Maanum shooting wide and Foord having an effort saved.
Chelsea made a couple of substitutions with Eve Perisset and Kirby coming on and at the same time they changed formation to 3-5-2. This led to a period of chances for the away side with Erin Cuthbert seeing a shot deflected wide in the 66th minute, then Magdalena Eriksson saw an effort go over seconds later.
James shot over from the edge of the area a minute later. It was all Chelsea now with Kirby putting an effort wide in the 69th minute, then Sophie Ingle sent a powerful shot from 18-yards just wide.
Arsenal came close to going further ahead in the 74th minute though when Steph Catley’s cross was tipped onto the crossbar by Musovic just as Blacksteinus was running in at the far post.
That was to prove to be the Gunners last real chance of the match as Chelsea had the better of the last 15 minutes. Eriksson saw a header from a free kick saved in the 77th minute, which was the visitors first effort on target of the match. Perisset sent a shot into the side netting in the 88th minute.
The equaliser for the Blues did come in the 89th minute when second half substitute Jelena Cankovic sent in a superb cross which was powerfully headed into the net by Kerr.
The draw leaves Chelsea three points clear of Arsenal and Manchester United though they both have a game in hand on the leaders. Arsenal’s next match is away to Brighton in the WSL next Sunday evening whilst Chelsea take on Liverpool at home earlier in the day.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Zinsberger, Wienroither, Williamson, Rafaelle, Catley, Little (c), Walti, Hurtig (McCabe 80’), Maanum, Foord, Blackstenius,
Substitutes: D’Angelo, Wubben-Moy, Beattie, Maritz, Gio, Pelova, Kuhl, Iwabuchi
Goal – Little 57’ pen
Booked – McCabe 88’
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Musovic, Charles (Perisset 62’), Buchanan, Bright, Eriksson (c) (Rytting Kaneryd 86’), Ingle (Cankovic 80’), Cuthbert, James, Fleming (Kirby 62’), Reiten, Kerr
Substitutes: Berger, Carter, Svitkova, Mjelde, Abdullina
Goal – Kerr 89’
Booked – James 39’
Referee – Emily Heaslip
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