Arsenal Women 1-2 Chelsea Women: Erin Cuthbert brace seals win against valiant Gunners
PUBLISHED: 14:25 13 January 2019
A brace from Chelsea's Erin Cuthbert clinched an important 2-1 win for the visitors against Arsenal on Sunday at Meadow Park.
Despite a late goal from Viv Miedema raising hopes of a second grandstand comeback in a matter of days for Joe Montemurro’s courageous team it wasn’t to be.
The Gunners – who gave their all throughout a difficult game – threw everything at the Blues in a late bid to equalise but their valiant efforts were thwarted as Chelsea moved to within two points of the table-toppers.
Arsenal missed star Dutch striker Danielle van de Donk who was absent after picking up a thigh muscle injury in training after her heroics against the Birmingham with Lia Walti replacing her.
Beth Mead and Katie McCabe both marked their 50th appearance against the Blues as the Gunners looked to build on the excellent victory and spirit shown by the team during their late 2-1 comeback against City on Wednesday.
The victory propelled them into the semi-finals with second tier Manchester United waiting.
However, the league took precedence on Sunday with Arsenal sitting top of the women’s super league prior to kick-off, five points ahead of the third-placed Blues - a win would have given Joe Montemurro’s side vital breathing space.
The visitors could have gone ahead early on after Kaz Carney was fed by Bethany England’s pass on the left before Gunners keeper Peyraud-Magnin was alert to the danger, blocking bravely for a corner which came to nothing.
Chelsea continued to dominate in a tight if shapeless game in the opening stages with both sides probing but without an end product.
That was until the Blues went ahead on 26 minutes after Cuthbert climbed high inside the box to head the ball into the top left corner to make it 1-0.
The match continued to be tight with plenty of robust challenges bordering on the edge of propriety, not least from the combative Blues captain Karen Carney on a number of players including Mead.
Time will tell whether her full-blooded tackle on Mead played any part in her being replaced during the interval by Emma Mitchell but Arsenal started the second period determined to get back into the game.
However, the visitors doubled their lead with Cuthbert grabbing her second to make it 2-0 on 61 minutes.
England headed down Sophie Ingle’s clipped ball into the box with the lively Cuthbert on hand to perfectly execute a well-timed volley in the box to leave Peyraud-Magnin with no chance.
A short while late Cuthbert departed to acclaim from the travelling fans in the sell-out crowd of 3,019 at Boreham Wood to be replaced by Ali Riley.
Pantomime captain Carney was subbed at the same time- but to loud boos from Arsenal supporters as Fran Kirkby came on.
Powerhouse Miedema grabbed a goal back with ten minutes remaining as hopes rose of staging a second improbable comeback this week but Chelsea hung on to see out an important victory.
For the progressive Montemurro and his talented but tired team – and a squad that is simply not as well stocked as moneybags Chelsea – a vital few weeks is coming up.
Although, perhaps the first thing they should do is have a much-needed day off to recharge their weary bodies as a number of important battles loom.