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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at The Emirates

Arsenal thrash out of sorts Chelsea 4-1 at the Emirates to go joint top of the WSL

Russo is just about to head home Arsenal's second goal Picture: Paul Lagan
Russo is just about to head home Arsenal's second goal Picture: Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal 4 v Chelsea 1


Arsenal thrashed WSL leaders Chelsea 4-1 at the Emirates to go joint top of the division with a blistering display of clinical finishing, tactical superiority, greater desire and a little bit of good fortune from the referee.

The north Londoners were so motivated for the game, they must have surprised even themselves at how easily they carved the champions apart.

The Blues, never at their best after an international break, simply failed to produce even average individual performances and that resulted in their first defeat of the season

A brilliant recovery tackle by Niamh Charles on four minutes prevented the home side from getting a shot away following a quick counter-attack.

That should have been the wake-up call the Blues needed – they failed to respond.

The pressure finally told on eight minutes, when an Arsenal attack, this time on the right, was not cleared twice by the ragged Chelsea defence, and a free Beth Mead on the left picked up the ball from Russo, took a touch to her left before slamming home a left-footer high into Ann-Katrin Berger's net.

The lead lasted just five minutes as Chelsea with their first serious attack, built up from the left at the back, the ball was given to Jessie Fleming who went on a powerful diagonal run across the pitch before giving the ball to Sweden winger Johann Rytting-Kaneryd.

Th wide player took a touch to her left on the apex of the penalty area, before ramming home a low, left-footer between Manuela Zinsberger and her left hand post.

Sam Kerr had moved across the goalkeeper and appeared to be in an offside position when the shot was made but the lineswoman failed to spot it or judged Kerr not to be interfering with play.

Chelsea's defence's inability to deal with anything high or with pace was cruelly exposed on 36 minutes when a simple regulation corner was met, unchallenged from former Chelsea youth player Russo who got ahead of Berger and headed home from close range.

The home side took full advantage of a shaken Chelsea when Russo exposed holes in Chelsea's central rearguard again two minutes, later and she latched onto a through ball before curling a smart right footer beyond Berger to make it 3-1.

Every time Arsenal had the ball, they looked capable of scoring, while Chelsea struggled to get close to the Arsenal penalty area, let alone create serious goal-scoring opportunities.

As the half drifted to the end of the five added minutes, the Gunners sat back a bit more, absorbing possession but containing the Blues quite easily.

Facing a real prospect of defeat Chelsea head coach opted for a triple substitution at half time – on came Fran Kirby, Ashley Lawrence ans Kadeisha Buchanan – off went Sjoeke Nusken, Eve Perisset and Maren Mjelde.

A slew of niggly fouls greeted the second half – Arsenal's, Katie McCabe and Caitlin Foord both recipients of a yellow card from referee Rebecca Welch.

Arsenal were forced into their first substitution on 61 minutes – injured Kim Little went off – Frida Maanum replaced her.

Left winger Guro Reiten was introduced by Hayes on 64 minutes, off went Rytting-Kaneryd.

James got a yellow for a needless foul on 70 minutes.

Arsenal were awarded a penalty on 73 minutes when Russo went through, Jess Carter tipped the ball away, but Berger who had committed herself to grabbing the ball, saw her momentum crash into the striker.

It was a poor decision by Welch which effectively ended any west London resistance as Russo slotted home the spot kick with consummate ease.

James was going to be replaced before the penalty – on came Mia Fishel.

Arsenal then replaced Russo with Stina Blackstenius and Mead and Catley went off for Noelle Maritz and Cloe Lacasse.

Arsenal could have added a few more goals to overtake the Blues at the top of the league on goal difference, but have got be content with just the 4-1 scoreline.

Arsenal: Zinsberger, Wubben-Moy, Catley, Mead, Little, McCabe, Foord, Pelova, Russo,Ilestedt

Subs: D'Angelo, Beattie, Miedema, Maanum, Maritz, Lacasse, Blackstenius, Codina, Cooney-Cross

Chelsea: Berger, Nusken, Carter, James, Perisset, Fleming, Mjelde, Rytting-Kaneryd, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert

Sub: Musovic, Fishel, Ingle, Reiten, Lawrence, Kirby, Hampton, Buchanan, Beever-Jones

Referee: Rebecca Welch


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