Arsenal Women vs Chelsea Women 1-1 Draw Player Ratings
On Sunday afternoon, Sam Kerr’s late equalizer denied Arsenal the opportunity to tie for first place in the Women’s Super League.
Kerr’s header in the 89th minute equalized Gunners captain Kim Little’s earlier penalty kick in a thrilling London derby match between the top two teams in the WSL.
With so much football still to be played, it would be a stretch to call this a season-defining matchup, but the outcome of this London derby will have enormous repercussions for both teams for the remainder of the season.
If Arsenal had won via a second-half penalty by captain Little, it would have been a crucial victory for the home team. Unfortunately, those wearing red and white were unsuccessful.
The day began with the leaders facing the runners-up, with Jonas Eidevall’s side trailing by only three points despite having played one fewer game – and ended with Arsenal still trailing by three points after Kerr’s goal, while Chelsea’s lead grew to 28 points.
The Gunners had only lost once this season prior to kickoff, with the memory of their thrilling 3-2 victory at the start of last season still fresh in the minds of their fans.
While Viv Miedema scored a goal and Beth Mead scored twice in that September 2021 match at the Emirates, both were out with long-term injuries this time around, and the crowd was only 8,000.
After 16 months and a memorable Lionesses European Championship tournament victory, 46,811 tickets were sold for the Sunday lunchtime match, with the majority of the crowd in sunny North London going home disappointed after Eidevall’s side was pegged back in the final minute.
Sabrina D’Angelo was on the bench as Manuela Zinsberger’s backup, while Gio Queiroz returned to North London following her loan stint at Everton. The 19-year-old Danish international Kathrine Kuhl, who joined on a permanent basis from FC Nordsjaelland earlier this month, was also on the bench.
Victoria Pelova, a 23-year-old Dutch midfielder who excelled for Ajax in Arsenal’s two-legged Champions League qualifier victory in September, was also acquired by Eidevall to bolster Sunday’s bench.
Sam Kerr, who has scored seven goals in seven games and provided one assist after this match, was once again selected by Chelsea to lead the attack in order to demonstrate the club’s dominance. The West Londoners topped the WSL scoring charts with 31 goals before referee Emily Heaslip blew the opening whistle, so it was no surprise that Emma Hayes Blues began the game as a free-scoring team.
Lauren James drove through a retreating home defense and fired just wide of Gunners No. 1 Zinsberger’s far post in the opening moments, mirroring her older brother, Chelsea and England men’s international Reece James, in displaying similar attacking intent.
However, Eidevall dominated the remainder of the match, with Lina Hurtig and Caitlin Foord testing Blues goalkeeper Zecira Musovic within the first ten minutes, followed by Frida Maanum shooting at the Swedish international and testing the 26-year-old again shortly thereafter. Hurtig then fired into the side netting at the half-hour mark after Maanum had fed him.
In the Super League era, the head-to-head record after 22 matches was 9 wins apiece, with 4 draws, as both teams were vying for supremacy and refusing to cede any ground. Something must have given.
Invigorated by the heartwarming halftime appearance of now-former Arsenal star Jordan Nobbs – who received a rapturous ovation from the home crowd in recognition of her 12 years of service – the Gunners resumed the match with attacking vigor.
Hurtig nearly put the Gunners ahead shortly after halftime, first with an audacious long-range shot from the right flank that nearly stunned Musovic, and then with a powerful header that was blocked by the Chelsea goalkeeper.
It was a warning that Hayes’ team ignored.
Niamh Charles, the opponent’s No. 21 player, brought down Foord as she made her way into the penalty area, leaving referee Heaslip with no choice but to award a penalty.
In the 57th minute, despite vigorous Chelsea protests led by Lioness Millie Bright, Arsenal captain Little calmly slotted the ball past Musovic to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead. In reality, Eidevall’s team deserved the lead.
However, as with all great teams, going down a goal only spurred Chelsea to greater action, with James and then Sophie Ingle missing during a sustained period of pressure as the visitors attempted to claw back the damaging deficit.
Kerr’s late, late header from No. 28 Jelena Cankovic’s cross ensured that Chelsea were awarded a share of the match’s spoils, despite Catley’s long-range cross-com shot forcing Musovic to touch the ball onto the crossbar with mere seconds remaining in a hard-fought match.
On this basis, the return of the WSL in the coming weeks and months holds great promise.
Arsenal Women Player Ratings:
7.5/10 – Kerr’s late performance prevented a deserved clean sheet.
7.5/10 for Laura Wienroither – Solid
8.0 – Leah Williamson Already a legend for Arsenal. And performed as such. Distinguished performance
Rafaelle Souza: 8/10 – Complements Williamson so well.
Steph Catley: 8/10 – So impressive in a role of such significance.
Lia Walti: 7.5/10 – Worked hard.
Kim Little was a captain, a leader, and a legend. The most composed player on the field to convert such a crucial penalty kick
Lina Hurtig: 7/10 – She deserved the applause she received before Katie McCabe replaced her.
7.5/10 for Frida Maanum, who works so hard on and off the ball.
Caitlin Foord: 7.5/10 – Another player in red and white who attempted to give Chelsea the victory before Kerr’s late goal.
Katie McCabe: 7/10 – Unwavering
Arsenal Women vs Chelsea Women 1-1 Draw Player Ratings