Up, up and away
Growing into the game, it was Joe Montemurro’s tactics that paid dividends. Letting the hosts have the ball and getting comfortable behind it before launching their well-timed counter-attacks.
A clumsy foul on Emma Mitchell by Adelina Engman gifted the visitors the lead, Little’s resulting penalty put beyond Carly Telford, leaving the Blues with it all to do. A team off of the pace in attack this season, the hosts continued to be schooled the Gunners who haven’t wanted for goals so far this term.
Caught short-handed in the box again late in the half, Chelsea let their second in when Little threaded the ball through for Miedema. The Dutchwoman’s first touch enough to create ample space and pick her spot in the far corner.
Resetting well at the break and looking sharp in the final third once more, the hosts soon conceded their third of the day. A cross-cum-shot from Nobbs enough to leave Telford flat-footed as the ball arced over her and dropped into the far side of the goal. The goalkeeper caught out again five minutes later as she came out to deny Beth Mead, keeping it alive, the striker pulled the ball back from Miedema to curl into the exposed net.
The match was far from over however and soon enough Nobbs had her second of the day, the hosts ripped apart with two passes, the first from Lia Wälti to pick out Mead on the wing and the second that saw Nobbs fed by Mead. Whilst her first could have been a touch fortuitous, there was nothing but intent from the midfielder for her second, the score a polarised one.
A class apart
Having wiped the floor with teams not expected to finish near the top of the table this season – and after a nervy 4-3 last time out – this was always billed to be Arsenal’s biggest test. Yet, for the Gunners, the match seemed a walk in the park.
With the far superior tactics against a team that just haven’t looked too bright so far this season, Arsenal never looked like slipping after their first goal. Without their strongest starting XI on the pitch (against an arguably weakened Chelsea), the visitors looked completely switched on, with everyone in red buying into the system and playing in tandem.
With four wins from four – and still at the top of the pile despite having played a match less than those chasing them – there is no question, Arsenal are favourites to finally finish in the top two once more. However, for a team that consistently has injury issues, with a protracted season, the road ahead is fraught with danger and the adage of, “one match a time” will be parroted around Borehamwood.
For Chelsea it’s hard to see where they go from this loss, now having failed to score in four of their five matches this season, with a zesty attack, things are clearly going wrong for the champions. Looking well below their capabilities, there were questionably a few selection queries, injuries forcing some changes but others on paper, unexplainable.
Needing goals, the hosts left themselves hugely exposed where they’re usually formidable in their box, the spaces keenly exploited by Arsenal. Whilst you can’t lose a match if you don’t concede, you also can’t win if you don’t score, Emma Hayes would do well to remember that in the coming weeks.
Well in team mode, the success for the Gunners was down to everyone on the pitch, from Wälti pulling the strings in midfield to Little raising her game every match to return to her vintage best. After a match to forget against West Ham, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin had a solid game in goal, not anything spectacular but consistent to deny Chelsea at every turn. Even Leah Williamson and Dominque Bloodworth looked composed and assured in defence to keep Chelsea’s rampant attack out with their goalkeeper.
But, in a match were the goals kept flying in, it was the goalscorers who stood out; Nobbs and Little orchestrating and dazzling in attack as Miedema showed no rust after a subdued international break. As Little has been grabbing all the headlines for Arsenal, Miedema has been finding her own form after an injury that kept her well below her best last season. The young Dutchwoman, doing well so far this season, gratefully feeding off of the crosses and passes from Nobbs, Little, Mead, Lisa Evans et all.