Arsenal and Chelsea played to a 1-1 draw in a highly competitive match at the Emirates Stadium, watched by 46,500 fans.
The Gunners opened the scoring with a debatable penalty converted by Kim Little, but Chelsea equalized late in the game through a goal from Sam Kerr. Both teams had their moments and scored when they were on top, but neither team was clinical enough. The xG numbers were similar, with 1.6 for Arsenal and 1.3 for Chelsea, indicating that the result was fair but disappointing for both teams.
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall decided to start players who had been with the team in the first part of the season and kept new players on the bench. He chose Hurtig to start on the right wing instead of McCabe, who had not been as effective in that position in previous games. Kim Little was restored to the starting lineup.
The starting XI was Zinsberger; Wienroither, Williamson, Rafaelle, Catley; Little, Wälti, Maanum; Hurtig, Blackstenius, Foord. Arsenal switched to a 4-4-2 defensive shape, with Maanum playing up top alongside Blackstenius, and Foord dropping to left midfield, with Hurtig defending the right wing.
The game was cagey, with both teams trying to avoid mistakes and not wanting to concede the first goal. Chelsea’s usual counter-attacking threat was on display as soon as the ball was lost. After Arsenal took the lead, Chelsea made a double change, bringing on Perisset on the right wing for the inefficient Charles who had a torrid time against Foord and Kirby for Fleming. Then Chelsea sent on Cankovic and Rytting-Karneryd in an all attacking move.
Arsenal dropped deep and Chelsea sustained their attacking pressure for the last part of the game. McCabe came on for Hurtig and rightly so, but I found it surprising that Foord and Blackstenius who were tired and unable to relieve the defensive pressure by holding the ball or mounting counter-attacks were not subbed out. Arsenal had too many similar profile players on the pitch in that back to wall scenario.
Considering, we had Beattie on the bench to do a defensive job, as well as Pelova, Gio, Kühl and Iwabuchi to be able to keep the ball and offer fresh legs, the fact that Eidevall chose to be conservative ended up costing two points as Cankovic put a fantastic cross and Kerr managed to get in between our defenders to convert from close range. All the defending players involved certainly could have done better, but there were some tired legs at the end of the game.
Overall, it was a good performance against a top team and only the final ball and clinical finishing let the team down in a game of small margins. Some decision making choices during the game were disappointing, as it shows some players might lack the quality to be a top top player and it is clear that with Mead and Miedema around one of the chance would have been likely to finish in the back of the net.
The result leaves Arsenal three points behind Chelsea and the Gunners drop to the third place as Manchester United destroyed Liverpool 6-0 and have a better goal difference +24 against +20. Arsenal and United have a game in hand over Chelsea with the Gunners away to City and the Red Devils away to Tottenham. Manchester City are in fourth place, three points behind Arsenal and Chelsea as they are still chasing the points lost early in the season and will need to win that key postponed game.