Chelsea delivered a tactical masterclass and ruthlessly ripped aside league leaders Arsenal to raise last-season’s FA Cup with a 3-0 win in entrance of a buoyant Wembley crowd.
Fran Kirby was completely unplayable because the Blues earned their delayed domestic treble for the 2020-21 season. The England ahead gave Chelsea an early lead however the crew failed to capitalise on their full dominance till Sam Kerr delivered the deadly blow, scoring twice within the second half.
There was hope that this may be an event worthy of the heaving crowd of 40,942 and the poignant one centesimal anniversary of the crushing ban of girls’s soccer from FA affiliated grounds. Nevertheless, the assembly of the league leaders and WSL title holders offered a present that noticed its curtain shut virtually as rapidly because it was raised, with rampant Chelsea forcing an Arsenal collapse in every week that might come to outline their season. They now have a visiting Barcelona on the Emirates to come on Thursday.
In equity the third-minute opener was staggeringly unfortunate. Life-long Arsenal fan Lotte Wubben-Moy flicked her interception up and it bounced off an on-hand Frida Maanum proper into the trail of Kirby who raced by means of the center and side-footed low previous Austrian goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger into the nook.
If there was a heavy dollop of misfortune within the method of the concession, the Gunners, the crew with probably the most FA Cup wins in historical past with 14, rode their luck for the remainder of the primary half with Zinsberger very a lot accountable for preserving the margin slender. Time and time once more the Arsenal defence wilted below the stress of Kirby and Kerr.
With stalwart centre-back Leah Williamson absent by means of damage, Wubben-Moy partnered Jen Beattie, herself having returned from damage, however the pair have been pulled aside with ease, with fullbacks Noelle Maritz and Steph Catley repeatedly failing to present assist for the over-run duo.
Zinsberger did nicely to save from Kerr, after the ahead collected a flick from Kirby on seven minutes. Once more, 10 minutes later, after Beattie headed the ball instantly at Olympic champion Jessie Fleming who picked out Kerr, Zinsberger was in motion once more to push away the Australian’s effort, who was subsequently flagged offside.
With their subsequent advance Chelsea maybe ought to have had a penalty. Kerr collected a protracted ball excessive however was despatched flying by Beattie, Kirby lashed the free ball goalwards however Zinsberger pushed the close-range effort onto the put up.
Emma Hayes’s Chelsea crew lined up with the again three of Jess Carter, Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Vivid that has more and more settled into the brand new formation because the season has worn on. Nevertheless, every time Arsenal have been in possession the versatile Erin Cuthbert, taking part in on the precise facet of the midfield, would fall in line alongside the centre-back trio, tasked with stifling the equally terrier-like Katie McCabe. It was a massively efficient tactic, chopping off width that Arsenal had exploited within the Ladies’s Tremendous League opener between the title rivals again in September and giving them the additional physique within the center when piling ahead.
Zinsberger, who did nicely in England’s 1-0 defeat of Austria within the worldwide break, could be wanted twice extra earlier than the half was out, first pushing across the put up as Kirby tried to pop it into the underside nook from the sting of the field, then placing off Kerr simply sufficient for the ahead to crack her effort off the bar having received a race with Wubben-Moy.
Arsenal had a penalty shout of their very own waved away to degree up the dangerous calls, with the ball deflecting off of Cuthbert’s arm as she slid in to deal with England ahead Beth Mead.
The half-time whistle couldn’t have come quickly sufficient for the battered Gunners, with supervisor Jonas Eidevall’s facet closely flattered by the 1-0 scoreline. Having spent a lot of the season dominating, fluid and urgent excessive when out of possession, the Arsenal gamers regarded like they barely knew one another.
After the break Chelsea appeared glad to let Arsenal have the ball and if the blue signal held up by Eidevall aimed to change issues it was unclear what and Chelsea would double their lead simply earlier than the hour.
At what felt just like the one centesimal time of asking, Kerr beat Wubben-Moy to a protracted ball from Kirby, reduce inside and fired in on the close to put up to quell hopes of a fightback from the Reds and dampen the ambiance, which grew to become as tepid as Arsenal’s tried forays ahead.
Throwing warning to the wind, Eidevall swapped defensive midfielder Lia Wälti and Beattie for forwards Nikita Parris and Caitlin Foord however it solely sowed confusion among the many disjointed pink shirts and as an alternative Chelsea prolonged their lead, as Kerr clipped the ball delightfully over Zinsberger with 13 minutes remaining to ship the ultimate blow.