'The better team won': Emma Hayes reacts to Chelsea's 4-1 drubbing

  • Arsenal thrashed Chelsea 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium
  • Gunners level on points with Blues at the top of the WSL table
  • Emma Hayes said this was her team's worst performance

Hayes' side were handed a 4-1 defeat by Arsenal
Hayes' side were handed a 4-1 defeat by Arsenal / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

Emma Hayes criticised her side's performance after Arsenal dominated in a 4-1 WSL at the Emirates Stadium, admitting it was her team's worst performance for a long time.

Arsenal thrashed the Blues at the Emirates in front of a new WSL record crowd of 59,042. Beth Mead netted a spectacular opening goal. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd replied with an equaliser for Chelsea, but Arsenal then netted twice in two minutes - a header from Amanda Ilestedt and a solo-effort from Alessia Russo. The latter also converted from the spot, sealing full bragging rights and three points.

"That’s as bad as I've seen us for a long time," Hayes admitted after the match. "The better team won by a country mile. They bullied us. They dominated in the duels, all phases of our play were poor. That’s not us our best today, that’s probably us at our very worst."

Chelsea limped against Arsenal throughout the afternoon, putting up a deflated performance. Whilst the Blues were creating chances, they lacked the end product and were unable to break down a solid Arsenal defence and impressive performance from goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.

"Teams lose football matches. We've lost a football match, it's not the end of the world. We haven't lost the title today. We've lost three points," Hayes added as she tried to look for perspective.

This game will determine the trajectory of the rest of the WSL season as a Chelsea win would've seen the Blues go six points clear of the rest. However, with Arsenal handing Hayes' side their first defeat of 2023/24, the London clubs are instead neck and neck at the top of the table, level on points.

Arsenal had scored three times in the first half with only one goal in reply from Chelsea, but it was the manner in which Blues conceded that troubles Hayes the most.

Lauren James, Steph Catley
Chelsea were second best against Arsenal / Warren Little/GettyImages

"They had four shots and three goals in the first half," she explained. "They were extremely clinical and I felt like we got bullied in the duels all over the pitch. But I think we was too deep in the first half and invited pressure. [Arsenal] scored from there first chance which is poor form us, the second we got bullied and it was not an area for [Ann-Katrin Berger] to claim it.

"Then a simple ball in behind and our problems created us an uphill problem. Then we gave away a silly penalty, but fair play to Arsenal we did not compete anywhere - the whole team was poor."

Hayes continued that she believes a team cannot go all season unbeaten, despite Arsenal recording 103 games unbeaten between 2003 and 2009, albeit a different era. And, not wanting to speak on individuals, the Chelsea boss has faith the reigning champions will return to winning ways.

"You have to get beaten, you can't go a whole season unbeaten, there’s lots of top teams," she said.

"But what you cannot do is give away three goals before the half and then give a mindless fourth. You’re giving it up. I am not going to make excuses I will speak to the players tomorrow about it. We was well and truly beaten. We have to get back to our standards that was not our Chelsea standard and we have to control what we control."