In a thrilling Continental League Cup final at Selhurst Park, Arsenal defeated Chelsea 3-1 to end their four-year wait for a trophy.
Despite going down 1-0 after just 98 seconds thanks to a goal from Sam Kerr, Arsenal fought back and scored three goals in the first half to secure victory.
The win gave manager Jonas Eidevall his first piece of silverware as Arsenal boss and gave the Gunners a much-needed boost after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea last week.
Arsenal’s victory was a testament to their character and determination, and the win will provide a massive psychological boost to the team, who are still in the title race and the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will be disappointed with their performance and will need to quickly shake off the defeat as they prepare for fixtures against Manchester United and City and a Champions League tie with Lyon this month.
The attendance of 19,010 at Selhurst Park was a record for the competition, and the atmosphere was electric, underscoring the growing popularity of women’s football in England.
Arsenal dominate Chelsea
The starting XI for Arsenal featured only one change, with Maritz replacing Wienroither at right-back, while Chelsea made no changes.
Despite conceding an early goal, Arsenal displayed resilience and maturity to pull off a phenomenal performance against a strong Chelsea side.
The midfield controlled the game and showed maturity rarely seen this season, allowing Arsenal to slow down play and possess the ball for long spells.
Chelsea changed their formation three times during the game, but Arsenal remained strong and countered effectively, exploiting Chelsea’s weaknesses on the wings.
Kim Little received the Player of the Match award for her exceptional performance, distributing play effectively from a higher position than usual.
The win was morale-boosting, especially as Arsenal now face a challenge to secure a place in the Champions League with 10 games remaining.
Arsenal are currently five points behind third-placed Chelsea, six points behind Manchester City with two games in hand, and nine points behind Manchester United with two games in hand.
There is no margin for error, but if the team can replicate the performance level shown against Chelsea, there is a possibility of securing 10 wins out of 10.
What did Jonas Eidevall say after the game?
Jonas Eidevall, Arsenal’s head coach, expressed immense pride in his team’s performance after defeating Chelsea to win the 2023 Conti Cup.
It was the first trophy for Eidevall since taking charge of the club in September 2021.
He praised the team’s character, especially after conceding an early goal, and was impressed with their intent and behaviour on the pitch.
He was also proud of the fact that his team had been the better side against Chelsea in all three meetings in the last two months, creating more goalscoring opportunities.
Eidevall emphasised the importance of sustaining the momentum, attacking the game and building up play to create more opportunities.
He also revealed that giving away his coat to a supporter after the game was his way of acknowledging and thanking the fans who give him and the team energy.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Eidevall after the match. “It was really a test of character conceding a goal that early on. It really provided a difficult situation but what a way to respond!
“Of course, it helps when you score a goal to get back [on terms]. You just look at the intent and the behaviours, and what we proved on the pitch today. It was very nice.
“It’s very nice to get the reward. We’ve played Chelsea three times in the last two months and all three times we have been the better team. We created more goalscoring opportunities, and I think that really sends a strong message.
“If you play against a great team like Chelsea three times in a row and you each time, you outnumber them with goalscoring opportunities, that’s not easy to do. It shows the quality of our team.
“We spoke about [momentum] at half-time and I think it’s really important to continue to attack the game, press, build up and sustain our attacks to try and create goalscoring opportunities. For 45 minutes, it’s way too long for us to sit back and be passive – it’s only one goal and that can start to look shaky so I’m really happy with the way we approached the game.”
About giving his coat away after the game, he added, “That’s why I gave away my coat after the game. After Sunday’s match, there was a guy who was so optimistic, and he said ‘I believe in you guys, you’re going to win’. I said, ‘people like you are what make this football club great. Your optimism gives me energy, and I can give that back to the team and it can help our performance. So, you come here and do the same thing next Sunday and we win, you’ll get my coat.’
“I’m very happy for him, very happy for us and now I just need to sort out a new coat. So please help, adidas! Give me a new coat so I won’t be freezing on the sideline on Wednesday!”
What did Emma Hayes say after the defeat?
Betraying her childhood as a Spurs fan, Emma Hayes was not gracious in defeat.
“The blistering start killed us – we sat off when they got the first goal. The difference was between a team that has won a lot and a team that hasn’t,” Hayes told BBC One.
“They won the duels they were at a better intensity than us. The best team won there’s no doubt.
“I’m disappointed with us – you can’t concede three goals against a team that haven’t won a lot, which they haven’t domestically. They wanted it more.
“You have to win your battles and we didn’t do that, they dominated,” Hayes said. “Kim Little deservedly Player of the Match. When you don’t do those things sometimes you need a reality check and the better team won today.
“There was complacency today – we won a lot and they haven’t and today they wanted it more than us. Simple as.
“The best team won, I’m disappointed with us because I think for a Chelsea team, our standards are higher than that.”