Arsenal 4-1 Chelsea: Gunners go joint top with heavy win over champions
Alessia Russo struck twice to lift Arsenal to a 4-1 victory over league leaders Chelsea in front of a new Women’s Super League record 59,042 at the Emirates.
The Blues only goal came via Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, who cancelled out Beth Mead’s eighth-minute opener before Amanda Ilestedt fired Arsenal into the lead and Russo extended the Gunners’ advantage two minutes later.
The England forward doubled her WSL season tally with a spot kick in the second half, when an injury to captain Kim Little put a slight damper on an otherwise dominant afternoon for the hosts.
Victory for Arsenal snapped Chelsea’s unbeaten streak and drew them level on 22 points with the defending champions, who remain top of the table on goal difference.
The hosts were ahead on eight minutes, Little first finding Victoria Pelova in the centre of the 18-yard box where the Dutch international cleverly evaded three blue shirts, pivoting before flicking a pass to Mead.
The England forward took her time, dribbling her way into the centre of the area before blasting past Ann-Katrin Berger into the roof of the net, but it was all square just five minutes later.
Manuela Zinsberger had managed to keep out Jessie Fleming from distance, but was unable to do the same when the Canadian turned provider, picking out Kaneryd who levelled with a low finish from 18 yards.
Niamh Charles headed away a Steph Catley chance but the Gunners pulled ahead from the resulting corner, Ilestedt rising highest to make it 2-1 in the 36th minute.
Russo soon extended Arsenal’s advantage, beginning with a fine long pass from Catley for the Gunners’ marquee summer signing, who obligingly finished over the raised arm of the half-kneeling Berger and into the far corner.
Erin Cuthbert forced Zinsberger into a diving save just before five minutes of added time but could not close the gap before the break.
Emma Hayes, still without the services of injured captain Millie Bright, made three changes to start the second half but it was Arsenal who threatened first as Pelova tested Berger from 18 yards before Lauren James curled wide of the Gunners’ right post.
Jonas Eidevall was forced to bring on Frida Maanum when Little took a knock and deemed unfit to continue just after the hour mark of an afternoon that went from bad to worse when Berger was charged with bringing down Russo, who sent her spot-kick into the bottom right corner.
Chelsea were running out of chances after Zinsberger picked Cuthbert’s free kick out from the air in the closing stages, and the Blues could not take advantage of eight minutes of added time, when the hosts piled on the pressure and at times seemed close to making it five, happily settling for the three points.