Over 46,500 supporters packed into Emirates Stadium on London Derby day as we kicked off 2023 with a draw with league leaders Chelsea.
We were leading until the dying moments thanks to a valiant team performance and a Kim Little penalty, until Sam Kerr popped up with a close-range header to steal a draw for the Blues.
We began with the lion’s share of possession, putting our visitors under pressure from the off through the relentless work and pressing of Stina Blackstenius and Caitlin Foord.
In the first of many moments of brilliance from our Swedish striker, Blackstenius poached the ball at the halfway line and stormed down the pitch. She then played off a perfect ball to Lina Hurtig at the edge of the area but the Swede’s shot just lacked the power needed to beat Musovic in goal.
Caitlin Foord routinely got the better of Niamh Charles down the left wing and on one occasion, dribbled straight into the box and got a shot away. Frida Maanum also looked bright in front, testing Musovic from long-range after some good work from Blackstenius once again.
We continued to threaten the Chelsea goal throughout the half, and Hurtig came agonisingly close again from a tight angle but her shot rifled the side netting.
The Blues had some dangerous moments, with their brightest spark undoubtedly Lauren James down the right wing, but Zinsberger remained comfortable between the posts as the whistle blew for half-time.
The well-earned breakthrough finally came just before the hour mark after Foord was taken out upon entering the penalty area. Skipper Kim Little stepped up to convert from the spot with ease to put us 1-0 ahead of our London rivals.
We weren’t done there, however, and could have doubled our lead mere minutes later had Steph Catley’s deep cross-cum-shot snuck in under the post, rather than being tipped over the bar for a corner.
As the visitors went in pursuit of a way back into the match, our Gunners weathered chance after chance. Laura Wienroither, in particular, put in a dogged shift at right full-back, proving the victor in several key 50-50s across the pitch.
However, in the dying moments of the game, an uncharacteristically quiet Sam Kerr finally popped up. A bullet header past Zinsberger in the 89th minute resulted in a gutting end to the match for our Gunners who had dominated the visitors for the majority of the afternoon.
What it means
With the points shared, Chelsea remain top of the league, though we still have a game in hand on our London rivals.
We head to Broadfield Stadium next weekend for our next WSL challenge against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Arsenal Starting XI: Zinsberger (GK), Wienroither, Williamson, Rafaelle, Catley, Walti, Little (C), Maanum, Hurtig (McCabe, 78), Foord, Blackstenius
Subs not used: D'Angelo (GK), Wubben-Moy, Beattie, Maritz, Pelova, Kuhl, Iwabuchi, Queiroz
Chelsea Starting XI: Musovic (GK), Charles (Perisset, 62), Buchanan, Bright, Erikkson (C), Cuthbert, Ingle (Cankovic, 78), Fleming (Kirby, 63), James, Reiten, Kerr
Subs not used: Katrin-Berger (GK), Carter, Svitkova, Abdullina, Mjelde, Kaneryd
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