Chelsea bounced back from their loss to Brighton at the weekend with a thumping 3-0 win over Arsenal. Pernille Harder with two goals and a late third from Fran Kirby giving Emma Hayes’ side a three point lead at the top.
Elsewhere, meanwhile, Brighton carried on the momentum from their victory over Chelsea by beating West Ham by a goal to nil.
The second City derby due to be played was called off due to a frozen pitch, as was Tottenham match with Bristol City.
Chelsea 3 – 0 Arsenal
The perfect response from the champions after a shock defeat to Brighton, as they returned to winning ways.
Chelsea pressed high up the pitch early on and and Fran Kirby was able to win the ball in the corner. Linking up with Harder and Ji, Kirby had a shot on the turn but it went straight at Arsenal keeper Williams.
Chelsea high press put the Arsenal defence under pressure that Arsenal struggled to deal with. Wubben-Moy poor pass left Williams in trouble and her clearance fell to Melanie Leupolz who’s long range effort went well wide of the goal, as Williams scrambled to get back.
Arsenal had a great chance to take the lead but Miedema’s shot was well saved by Berger. Danielle van de Donk won the ball from Millie Bright and slipped in Miedema who worked her way into the box. Miedema’s left footed shot was met by the outstretched leg of Berger.
Fran Kirby went even closer to opening the deadlock with her strike being well saved down low by Williams. Getting the ball on the right Kirby cut inside and played a 1-2 with Leupolz and hit a first time effort towards the bottom corner. Williams down low to her right got a strong hand on the ball to turn it away.
The opening came three minutes after the break from Harder. Ji winning the ball and Kirby giving it to Harder who shot from outside the box. The ball bouncing just in front of the keeper and in to the bottom corner, for Harder’s fifth WSL goal of the season.
Kirby and Harder combined for Chelsea’s second. Kirby’s cut back inside the box was struck first time by Harder in to roof of the net.
Katie McCabe’s deflected effort almost pulled one back for Arsenal, but Berger at stretch was able to push the ball away from goal.
Kirby added a third on 90 minutes, coolly sliding the ball past Williams to make it 3-0.
Emma Hayes spoke after the game saying:
“Everybody knows what the standards are at Chelsea and it’s not always easy to live with.
“The pressure is relentless, the expectation is relentless, but it’s a place for the best to thrive, and only the best, with the highest standards, keep this dream machine flying.
“Those are my demands and I won’t compromise on that. To see the response from the team shows where the team wants to go.”
Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro:
“I think if we analyse this game too much it will drive us crazy because there wasn’t a lot wrong with that other than they scored three goals and we scored none.
“It’s very hard to keep analysing these games because we play a bit more pragmatic and then they hurt us another way – they are a very, very good team with some powerful players and it’s the quality of them that has unlocked us today.
“Mathematically there is still a lot to play for us, but sometimes realistically you have to set yourself different targets. We have a Champions League spot to play for and two games in hand to help get us there.”
Brighton 1 – 0 West Ham United
Brighton got back to back wins for the first time this season with a 1-0 win over West Ham. Aileen Whelan’s first half goal helping Brighton victory.
Brighton started brightly, playing with confidence but were unable to create a real threat to Mackenzie Arnold’s goal.
West Ham could have gone ahead as Laura Vetterlein’s header was cleared on the line by Maya Le Tissier.
Arnold had to be at her best as Nora Heroum’s looping effort headed towards the top corner. The West Ham keeper quick to react and tip over.
Brighton got the lead thanks to Whelan’s outstretched leg. Megan Connolly’s corner wasn’t cleared and flicked to Whelan who’s outstretched right leg sent the ball back across goal and into the net.
West Ham failed to create any real opportunities in the second half and Brighton had chances to make it two, but the game ended 1-0
Brighton manager Hope Powell after the game said:
“Everyone did their jobs, which meant they didn’t score and we held out for all three points.
“We’ve done a lot of work on being hard to beat and it gives us the best chance of winning – if we stop conceding goals, then we’re in it.
“The players looked a bit tired towards the end of the match after Sunday’s game but they have really responded well, which takes off some of the pressure in that bottom half of the table.”
West Ham manager Olli Harder:
“Our performance was characterised by individuals’ inability to positively contribute in key moments offensively and defensively.
“The application and effort was there again so it’s difficult to criticise, but it’s quality in key moments that determines games and again we had the opportunity to show that quality but we didn’t do that.
“The missed chances and opportunities each game are fine margins and details. We’re still in this position and we’ve got 10 games to put ourselves in a better position than we’re in at the moment.”
The WSL continues over the weekend with the Manchester derby on Friday. Kick off at 19:00 and Live on BT Sport. Three matches will take place on Sunday with Aston Villa v Arsenal, Reading v Everton and Bristol City v Chelsea.