Arsenal put up superb fight in Chelsea draw
- Credit: PA
Women’s Super League: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal side put in a fantastic showing to hold current Women’s Super League Champions Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal came into the game without a win against Chelsea since 2018 and they certainly made their supporters proud against their London rivals.
The Gunners started the game well with Vivianne Miedema nearly played through on goal inside thirty seconds by Beth Mead as Chelsea only half cleared the ball to Leonie Maier but her pass was cut out by Millie Bright allowing the Blues to clear.
Kim Little who returned to the staring line-up nearly then played Miedema in on goal inside nine minutes but Ann-Katrin Berger was alert as she came out to claim the loose ball.
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Chelsea’s first opportunity came a minute later when Jonna Andersson whipped a cross in for Bethany England’s head as she flicked the ball just wide of Manuela Zinsberger’s right hand post.
On 22 minutes Joe Montemurro’s side created another half chance when Mead whipped a cross in for Miedema but it was overhit and went out for a Chelsea goal-kick.
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Arsenal were looking much more confident in the early stages compared to the Manchester United trip and were nearly in on goal when Little played a through ball aiming for Miedema but Berger was alert to come out and clear the danger away.
Leonie Maier was then the first person in the book as she was shown yellow after she brought down Magdalena Eriksson in what was a heavy collision with 33 minutes on the clock.
Arsenal then put in their best move of the half five minutes before half-time as Little played in Miedema but the Netherlands international had her effort blocked by Maren Mjelde as the ball rolled into the path of Berger in the Blues goal.
The Gunners then nearly were ahead when Caitlin Foord hit the crossbar as her strike beat Berger and crashed off the woodwork before the ball came back down and hit the bar for a second time before Berger punched the ball away from the head of Mead.
It was Arsenal who ended the first half on top as Little linked up with Roord but she couldn’t get a shot away on goal and that allowed Chelsea to clear the danger as the sides went in level at the break.
Chelsea made their first change at the break as Sam Kerr came on for Melanie Leupolz meaning a change of shape for Emma Hayes side with Ji So-yun going into a deeper role.
It was the visitors who had the first opening of the second half as Leah Williamson was caught on the ball by Pernille Harder who played in England and she fired just over the top of the bar.
Katie McCabe then made a superb block on 53 minutes to stop the Blues taking the lead as Erin Cuthbert was picked out by Cuthbert at the back-post but her effort was well blocked by the Republic of Ireland captain.
Lotte Wubben-Moy then was inches away of connecting with a corner as the young English defender got up well from a Mead corner and flicked wide of the target.
Montemurro’s side were giving it everything they had and Mead did well to win the ball of Andersson before driving into the area but she waited too long for the cross and Eriksson made the crucial block.
Chelsea then had a huge chance on 62 minutes when Williamson gave the ball away to Harder who crossed the ball into England and she fired her effort wide when she should have tested Zinsberger in the Arsenal goal.
That was to be England’s last action of the game as she was brought off for Guro Reiten.
On 72 minutes Chelsea had a huge chance to take the lead when Wubben-Moy made a rare mistake as Kerr got in behind but McCabe came across to make a fine last ditch tackle to stop the Australian getting in on goal.
A minute later Leah Williamson came to the Gunners rescue as Harder got into the box after neat link-up play with JI So-yun from a cross but her effort was well defended by the England centre-back deflecting her effort over the bar.
On 82 minutes Arsenal had their biggest chance to go ahead as McCabe crossed for Foord but she couldn’t get a connection to the ball before it fell for Miedema who fired her effort wide from close range via a deflection.
From the resulting corner Williamson got on the end of the ball and headed her effort wide of the target under pressure from three Chelsea defenders.
However Montemurro’s side did take the lead on 86 minutes when Miedema used her pace well to surge past Bright and cross for the on rushing Mead and she slid the ball beyond Berger first time.
The lead wasn’t to last long however as in the final minute of the game Chelsea levelled the score with a freak goal as Harder crossed from the right before the ball flicked up off Wubben-Moy who was magnificent before the ball looped up over Zinsberger and into the net.
Hayes’ side then nearly won it at the death through Kerr as a long ball found her, out came Zinsberger as the Australian striker lobbed the keeper but the ball just dropped wide of the post as the game ended in a thrilling draw.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, McCabe, Wubben-Moy, Williamson, Maier, Roord, Little, Wälti, Mead, Foord, Miedema.
Chelsea: Berger, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Ingle, Harder, Ji, England, Andersson, Cuthbert, Leupolz.
Subs used: Kerr, Fleming, Reiten,Charles.