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James enjoying freedom as Blues cruise to victory
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Toby Rathborne
Lauren James guided Chelsea to victory over Arsenal
Lauren James guided Chelsea to victory over Arsenal

Lauren James credited freedom for her inspirational display that helped Chelsea beat title rivals Arsenal to extend their lead at the top of the Women's Super League.

The 22-year-old set the hosts on their way to a precious three points when escaping her marker before firing through the hands of Gunners goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger. 

The Blues doubled their lead six minutes later when Sjoeke Nusken guided Erin Cuthbert's long-range effort into the bottom corner.

After the break, Nusken then bagged a second after Johanna Rytting Kaneryd's shot cannoned off her calf and wrong-footed Zinsberger to all but secure victory.

The Gunners did muster a late consolation when Kim Little's effort deflected off Chelsea forward Catarina Macario but saw their slim title hopes all but vanish on a disappointing evening.

After the game, James admitted the excitement of playing at Stamford Bridge had helped her produce the goods.

Speaking to Sky Sports, she said: "It's always nice to play here and I feel the freedom here with the fans. It obviously helped us gain momentum and today showed that.

"Everyone allows me to have freedom and those behind me make sure I'm doing my job defensively. And if I am, they say, 'Do what you want in possession'.

"I don't really think about it, I just do what the opportunity is giving me and try my best."

The result puts Emma Hayes' champions three points above second-place Manchester City and deals a massive blow to Arsenal's aspirations, as they now sit six points adrift.

Blues boss Hayes was quick to compliment her players following a dominant victory in West London.

She told BBC Sport: "I said that I expect a Chelsea standard and I saw that tonight in the performance. I thought it was a fabulous effort from every player to deliver what we needed.

"We've been depleted, we had to play Lauren James as a centre-forward today and she did a tremendous job but this is about the whole team and it's an amazing effort from everyone."


Chelsea FC WomenWomen's Super League
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