Title race wide open after Gunners and Blues draw

Arsenal Women 1-1 Chelsea Women – FA Women’s Super League – Emirates Stadium – Report

Arsenal Women 1-1 Chelsea Women

By Dave Bishop

With 46,811 tickets sold for the top-of-the-table clash, Arsenal Women and Chelsea Women shared the spoils in a tight, tense and entertaining 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium to leave the Women’s Super League title race wide open.

Despite Lauren James almost putting Blues into the lead after dispossessing defender Rafaelle Souza near the half way line and running through the Arsenal defence before shooting narrowly wide, the Gunners controlled the early stages but were unable to turn their undoubted dominance into goals until captain Kim Little fired home from the penalty spot in the fifty-seventh minute, sending Zecira Musovic the wrong way after Niamh Charles fouled Caitlin Foord.  

However, the award was somewhat fortuitous as the television replays showed that the initial contact had taken place outside the box.

Fran Kirby and French international Eve Perisset were introduced as substitutes almost immediately following the goal as Emma Hayes looked to try to get Blues back into the game.

Steph Catley’s effort from distance was then tipped onto the crossbar by Musovic, however with Chelsea continuing to press forward in search of an equaliser, substitute Jelena Cankovic curled a perfect cross into the area for Sam Kerr to get in between Leah Williamson and Rafaelle to head past Manuela Zinsberger for her eleventh goal of the season with just a minute left on the clock to salvage the point for Blues and stun the home crowd into silence.

Although the draw brought Chelsea’s run of nine consecutive league wins to an end, they maintained their three-point lead at the top of the table, with Manchester United’s 6-0 win over Liverpool later in the day moving them up into second place on goal difference – as Arsenal dropped to third.

Arsenal will head to Brighton & Hove Albion next on January 22 (6.45pm) with Chelsea due to host Liverpool at Kingsmeadow earlier in the day at 12.30pm.

Chelsea: Musovic; Charles (Perisset 62) Buchanan, Bright, Eriksson (Capt.) (Rytting Kaneryd 86) Cuthbert, Ingle (Cankovic 81) James, Fleming (Kirby 62) Reiten, Kerr Subs not used: Berger, Carter, Svitkova, Mjelde, Abdullina

Arsenal: Zinsberger, Wienroither, Williamson, Souza, Catley; Little (Capt.), Walti; Hurtig (McCabe 81) Maanum, Foord, Blackstenius Subs not used: D’Angelo, Wubben-Moy, Beattie, Maritz, Pelova, Kuhl, Iwabuchi, Queiroz

Referee: Emily Heaslip

Attendance: 46,881

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Brian Jeeves

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