Arsenal vs Chelsea: Key talking points as thrilling WSL title battle continues

Lauren James of Chelsea is chased down by Steph Catley of Arsenal
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Lauren James of Chelsea is put under pressure by Steph Catley of Arsenal during the FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on January 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

More than 45,000 tickets were sold for the huge London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday.

Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea had the chance to extend their advantage at the top of the table, whereas a multi-goal Arsenal win would swap the pair around.

However, neither side was able to secure all three points thanks to a late strike from Sam Kerr to cancel out Kim Little’s earlier penalty.

Here are our top talking points from the match.

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Lauren James is a Real Chelsea Gem Alongside Sam Kerr

From the early stages of this game, one player was head and shoulders above the rest.

It was a first half where Arsenal and Chelsea cancelled each other out, with little to no clearcut chances. If anything was to occur prior to the break though, Lauren James would surely have been at the heart of it.

James was gliding past players with ease, skilfully leaving Gunner after Gunner in her wake. So many people have always been convinced of the Londoner’s talent and so to see her delivering on the biggest stage is wonderful.

Her move over from Manchester United has been making a lot of sense recently. Not only has the 21-year-old started to be trusted more under the stewardship of Emma Hayes, receiving regular minutes, but she’s also playing for the most successful side in the WSL.

Sam Kerr, Guro Reiten, Lauren James and even Erin Cuthbert from a bit deeper, were all linking up with great chemistry for Chelsea. Chances may not have followed, particularly before the break, but they were playing some good football.

Arsenal Lack a Cutting Edge in the Absence of the ‘Meadema’ Duo

Losing both Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead to ACL injuries is a major blow for Jonas Eidevall. The attacking pair are always in sync on the field, and that was missing from this clash with Chelsea.

A lot of the first half chances were shots from range, which were dealt with easily by Swedish shot-stopper Zećira Mušović.

Talking of Sweden and one player who was particularly underwhelming at the Emirates, was Stina Blackstenius. A number of passes during key attacking moments were misplaced and generally posed little threat in the final third.

Frida Maanum and Caitlin Foord were making a difference though. Eventually, it was the Aussie who drew the penalty that Kim Little put away to take the lead. Maanum is currently the team’s joint top scorer for the season and she seemed full of confidence against Chelsea.

Miedema and Mead, despite having played less games, are in the mix too with seven and 10 league goal contributions respectively.

A draw was a fair result in hindsight but Arsenal could easily feel hard done by with the nature of the Kerr header. The Aussie bagged the equaliser right at the death in stoppage time.

At the same time though, they were the second-best team on the day and so will be glad to keep tabs with this league-leading Chelsea side.

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