Take a deep breath, everybody. Arsenal woman drew Chelsea 0-0 in an absolute cracking game of football. There were chances both ways, desperation defending, and big saves. Everything you could want from a football match save a Gunners goal.
It’s not a bad result for Arsenal. Yes, they no longer control their own destiny in the WSL, but they are still two points ahead of Chelsea. I’ll take points in the bank over games in hand any day of the week. The draw means that Arsenal went unbeaten against Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United in the WSL this season, claiming 12 of 18 points on offer. Last season, they claimed 4 of 18. That kind of improvement is how you go from 9 off the pace and a third place finish to challenging for the title.
Arsenal had the better action in the first half. On the whole, Chelsea probably had the better of the second half, especially to start the second 45. The Gunners had two wild, goal-mouth scrambles late in the second half but couldn’t find a way to put a ping-ponging around the box ball into the back of the net.
Arsenal found plenty of joy with wide through-balls between the centerback and outside back to one of the wide attackers bending a run from the touchline towards the middle. But the final product was lacking, whether it was failing to pick out a teammate with the cross, not getting enough purchase on the shot, or not getting a header on target (Stina Blackstenius’ missed chance in the first half looms large).
Chelsea, as always, were dangerous on the break. But for all their quick attacks, they only managed one “really should have scored” moment. Sam Kerr whiffed a volley from point blank and Rafa Souza blocked the follow-up chance. Kerr might have been put off by the slightest touch on the cross from Leah Williamson, too. The rest of Chelsea’s chances were either right at Manu Zinsberger or shots you’d expect (or at least hope) she’d make. They were good saves, don’t get me wrong, but none of them were magnificent “how did she save that” stops.
Both sides could have had a penalty awarded: Arsenal in the first half, Chelsea right at the death. Jess Carter caught Caitlin Foord from behind in the box after the Arsenal attacker nutmegged her. Foord fought to keep her feet but only managed a few steps and no shot on goal before falling over. On the other side of things, Leah Williamson leapt to block a cross with her arms in an awkward, away from her body position. From the look on her face, it seemed as if Williamson thought she had given away a penalty. But the whistle didn’t blow. Fair play to the referee, she was right on top of both incidents and saw them clearly.
Arsenal are well in it for the WSL title with 7 matches to play. They probably have to win out, but on paper, they should be favored in all their remaining matches. Love a good title race.