Arsenal Women 3-2 Chelsea Women: The champions suffer shock defeat in their opening game of the season as Beth Mead scores twice in five-goal thriller
- The Women’s Super League champions, Chelsea, were defeated 5-0 by Arsenal
- Vivianne Miedema scored Arsenal’s opening goal in the 14th minute of the game
- Beth Mead went on to score two incredible goals for Arsenal and seal their win
- Erin Cuthbert and Pernille Harder both scored for Chelsea but it was not enough
- The result came after Emma Hayes warned WSL players about greater scrutiny
A London derby, five goals, the champions defeated – are you not entertained?
Sky Sports had hoped for excitement at the Emirates and they were not disappointed.
Much has been made of the new multi-million TV deal for the WSL, with Sky and the BBC sharing the rights. The two televised games before this one were both reasonable, a decent watch, but they could not compare to the battle at the Emirates.
Sky showed Manchester United’s win over Reading on Friday, which was comfortable for the hosts, while Manchester City’s thrashing of Everton on BBC1 a day later was over by half-time. This, however, was an end-to-end affair of two unrelenting teams – and a contest more than worthy of the cameras.
The Women’s Super League champions, Chelsea, were defeated 5-0 by Arsenal (above)
Both clubs are contenders for the title this season but many had Chelsea down as the favourites. An opening day defeat was not part of Emma Hayes’ plans. Arsenal knew they had to invest in order to compete with the big-spending Blues.
American international Tobin Heath was their last recruit on deadline day, ending an impressive window which included the signings of Nikita Parris, Mana Iwabuchi and Frida Maanum. But it was two players who have been at the club since 2017 who masterminded this victory. A first half strike from Vivianne Miedema and two second half goals from Beth Mead proved to be enough for the Gunners to take all three points.
Arsenal had already played three competitive Champions League qualifiers before this game and it was noticeable. Hayes had said before kick-off that those who played in the Olympics would be eased back into the team, meaning Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby started on the bench. The duo scored 37 goals between them last season and were the driving force behind the Blues’ charge to the title.
Vivianne Miedema (right) scored Arsenal’s opening goal in the 14th minute of the game
Beth Mead (above) went on to score two incredible goals for Arsenal and seal their victory
Arsenal (4-3-3): Zinsberger, Maritz, Williamson, Beattie (Boye 77), McCabe (Catley 60), Maanum, Little, Walti (Wubben-Moy 83), Iwabuchi (Parris 60), Mead (Patten 83), Miedema
Subs not used: Williams, Cull, Goldie
Goals: Miedema (14), Mead (49, 60)
Chelsea (3-4-3): Berger, Carter, Bright (Fleming 87), Eriksson, Reiten (Andersson 83), Leupolz (Ingle 55), Ji, Charles (Kirby 55), Cuthbert, England (Kerr 55), Harder
Subs: Musovic, Nouwen, Spence, Andersson, Fox
Goals: Cuthbert (39), Harder (64)
But Arsenal have their own star forward, who happens to be the WSL’s all-time leading goalscorer. Miedema had barely had a touch of the ball in the opening 14 minutes but needed only one chance to put her side ahead.
The Dutch striker raced onto Katie McCabe’s ball down the left wing, cut inside Chelsea right back Jess Carter and opened her body up as if to shoot in the far corner, before pulling her finish back to the near post.
The nonchalant forward doesn’t celebrate goals but she allowed herself a smile and an arm in the air as the home crowd roared her name.
They should have been cheering again when Manu Iwabuchi fired over from 12 yards That miss proved costly when Erin Cuthbert pulled the visitors level just before half-time, keeping her cool to place the ball into the bottom corner after the Gunners failed to clear a corner.
Arsenal seemed fired up at the start of the second half and it was a moment of brilliance that saw them re-take the lead. Miedema played an exquisite through ball from inside her own half which split the Chelsea defence in two.
Mead raced on to it and stood up Magedalna Eriksson before unleashing a shot into the top right corner. She then grabbed her second when she rounded Ann-Katrin Berger after latching onto a pass from Iwabuchi, though there was a touch of offside.
Mead was left out of the Olympics and England squad by Hege Riise during the Norwegian’s temporary time in charge. But with new Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman watching on, she has more than made her case to be named in her first international squad this week.
Erin Cuthbert and Pernille Harder scored for Chelsea but it was not enough to win the game
The result came after Chelsea boss Emma Hayes warned WSL players about greater scrutiny
Hayes threw on Kerr and Kirby on the hour mark but the impact came from Pernille Harder, who gave the Blues a lifeline as she headed in from Cuthbert’s cross in the 64th minute. But the Gunners’ defence held firm to see out the last 36 minutes, with new Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall dropping to his knees in delight at the final whistle
‘I’m a passionate person,’ Eidevall said. ‘I think football is about emotions and connecting people – the team and the fans. ‘It was not a perfect performance, I am early in English football and still have a lot to learn.’
Chelsea only lost one game last season, they won the title by just two points. They know they the margins are fine and that any dropped points could be costly come the end of the season. For Arsenal and Eidevall, it’s the dream start.