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Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea: Sam Kerr scores late to rescue point for leaders

Kim Little
Arsenal captain Kim Little stepped up to score from the penalty spot

Sam Kerr rescued a late point for leaders Chelsea against Arsenal in a tense game between the Women’s Super League top two.

Arsenal captain Kim Little appeared to have scored the decisive penalty after Chelsea wing-back Niamh Charles fouled Caitlin Foord at Emirates Stadium.

But Kerr headed an equaliser to ensure Chelsea remain unbeaten since the opening day of the season.

They are three points clear of Arsenal, who have a game in hand.

The crowd of 46,811 was the second biggest in WSL history.

Kerr saves below-par Chelsea

This was Arsenal’s first WSL game since Vivianne Miedema was ruled out for 2022-23 with knee ligament damage, while Beth Mead suffered her season-ending ACL injury the last time the Gunners played at Emirates Stadium.

For long periods Arsenal looked like they missed the star pairing, creating plenty of chances with no cutting edge – until Charles clumsily felled Foord just inside the penalty area.

Arsenal captain Little has had injury woes of her own this campaign, but the midfielder was nerveless in sending Musovic the wrong way with her spot-kick.

Arsenal came close to a second when Steph Catley’s attempted cross almost caught out Musovic, the Chelsea goalkeeper scrambling to tip the ball on to the bar.

Also back for Arsenal following injury is Leah Williamson, the England centre-back leading the home defence in quelling the Chelsea attack – until the 89th minute.

Kerr escaped her marker and powered a header home from six yards, delivering the result that substitute Jelena Cankovic’s perfect delivery deserved.

It was the 32nd goal Chelsea have scored in 11 WSL games, and few have been as wildly celebrated by the bench, manager Emma Hayes leaping to her feet and punching the air.

Chelsea were below par – their first shot on target came in the 76th minute through centre-back Magda Eriksson – but winning when not at their best is often a mark of champions.

Ultimately, the red majority of the crowd – just shy of the WSL record 47,367 which attended Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Tottenham in September – were sent home wondering what might have been.

Livewire James sparks in tense game

A midday kick-off, it was a bright and early start for both teams on Sunday – and Arsenal were out of bed straight away and pressing Chelsea high up the pitch.

Erin Cuthbert and Millie Bright were guilty of giving the ball away around their own box, and the Gunners created the bulk of the first-half chances. Frida Maanum and Foord both shot straight at Zecira Musovic, while Lina Hurtig found the side-netting.

However, Arsenal never truly tested Chelsea keeper Musovic in the first half, while the Blues struggled to create anything at all early on, save for livewire Lauren James making a 40-yard run and zipping a shot just wide of the far post.

Last season only a point separated these sides, while both clubs had lost only one match this campaign. Such tight margins led to a tight game.

Fans were left waiting for the game to truly spark into life, the loudest moment of the opening 45 minutes being the chorus of boos for James when she was booked for cynically tripping Maanum.

There were worrying scenes of crowding outside the stadium and many supporters only reached their seats well after kick-off following huge queues.

An Arsenal statement read: “An early kick-off, combined with a number of new supporters to our stadium, coupled with 50% of supporters arriving in the last 20 minutes before kick-off, resulted in busy turnstile areas.”

Line-ups

Arsenal Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Zinsberger
  • 26Wienroither
  • 6Williamson
  • 2Carvalho Souza
  • 7Catley
  • 13Wälti
  • 10Little
  • 17HurtigSubstituted forMcCabeat 81′minutesBooked at 88mins
  • 12Maanum
  • 19Foord
  • 25Blackstenius

Substitutes

  • 3Wubben-Moy
  • 5Beattie
  • 14D’Angelo
  • 15McCabe
  • 16Maritz
  • 20Queiroz Costa
  • 21Pelova
  • 22Møller Kühl
  • 23Iwabuchi

Chelsea Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Musovic
  • 21CharlesSubstituted forPérissetat 62′minutes
  • 26Buchanan
  • 4Bright
  • 16ErikssonSubstituted forRytting Kanerydat 86′minutes
  • 22Cuthbert
  • 5IngleSubstituted forCankovicat 81′minutes
  • 10JamesBooked at 39mins
  • 17FlemingSubstituted forKirbyat 63′minutes
  • 11Reiten
  • 20Kerr

Substitutes

  • 7Carter
  • 13Svitková
  • 14Kirby
  • 15Périsset
  • 18Mjelde
  • 19Rytting Kaneryd
  • 27Abdullina
  • 28Cankovic
  • 30Berger

Referee:
Emily Heaslip

Attendance:
46,881

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