Off the mark
Picking up where they loft of from last month in Borehamwood, Chelsea were quick to assert themselves into the match, taking the lead just six minutes in. Having caught Emma Mitchell in possession, Erin Cuthbert was free to get ahead of her countrywoman and lay the ball across the box for Beth England to poke in at the far post.
Needing no more encouragement than going a go down to mount the charge, Arsenal were unfortunate not to be back of even terms moments later as the red shirts streaked forward, the chances coming thick and fast for the visitors. Whether Katie McCabe’s sweetly struck shot that drew a tidy save from Ann-Katrin Berger, Dominque Bloodworth’s flashed effort that slipped the wrong side of the post or Magda Eriksson’s misplaced header that had Berger on her toes to turn over, the Gunners were looking more and more likely to restore parity by second.
With zero love lost between the two teams, the London duo traded fouls more frequently than chances, Jonna Andersson’s speculative effort deflected wide between Beth Mead’s own wide effort and Daniëlle van de Donk going for several tumbles.
The wasted chances fast came back to bite Arsenal as they conceded a second soon before half time, Andersson chancing her arm from range, her strike an audacious one that arced through the air and evaded Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
England continues to shine
Much like when the pair met in the final last year, the Blues came firing out after the break and soon put the match beyond any reasonable doubt when England streaked through and thundered the ball into the back of the net.
The last half hour of the match a formality for both, Emma Hayes happy to take off her stars players and rotate in more firepower, keeping just the right balance on the pitch.
The refreshed and rejuvenated Chelsea squad more than a handful for Arsenal as they continued to find spaces to attack, Peyraud-Magnin bailed out more than once by Louise Quinn as the blue wave surged in the box. The hosts with numerous chances to further their lead, their own finishing keeping them out as much as the visiting defence.
Continuing to dazzle in attack and earn her “magician” moniker, Ji So-yun hounded and harassed the visiting back-line all match, getting at everyone in red in both midfield and defence. The South Korean’s quick feet too much for the tiring Gunners. Kim Little and McCabe’s standout efforts for Arsenal a happy footnote on a disappointing match.
More games, more competition
Still nursing an injury-hit squad, missing out on a handful of potential matches could easily be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal as they bow out of the competition. For Chelsea who’ve been left frustrated at the hands of Manchester City recently, the FA Cup provides a very real chance of silverware. The Blues dealt a blow in their pursuit of a top two finish the dame week they were knocked out of the league cup at the semi-final stage.