Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal: Player ratings as Lauren James leads Blues to statement WSL win

  • Chelsea move three points clear at top of WSL with statement win against Arsenal
  • Gunners now six points behind Blues in standings
  • Goal from Lauren James and brace from Sjoeke Nusken put hosts three up prior to own goal from Catarina Macario

Chelsea were victorious on Friday
Chelsea were victorious on Friday / Gaspafotos/MB Media/GettyImages

Chelsea strengthened their WSL title hopes with an important 3-1 win against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.

Over 30,000 people were in attendance to watch Emma Hayes' side move three points clear of Manchester City and six ahead of the visiting Gunners.

Three first-half goals saw the Blues race into an unassailable lead and pile the misery on Arsenal, who got on the scoresheet late on thanks to an own goal.

How the game unfolded

The match was delayed by 30 minutes due to a kit clash, with Arsenal wearing white socks when they were required to bring red. They were forced to purchase Chelsea's away socks from the club megastore and tape over the Nike logo in one of the more bizarre incidents of the season.

Once the action got underway, Chelsea immediately piled on the pressure and broke the deadlock on 15 minutes. Guro Reiten won possession back in midfield and Sjoeke Nusken quickly picked out the run of Lauren James, who weaved away from Steph Catley and fired a shot at the near post, which was terribly palmed up and in by goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.

Minutes later, Chelsea doubled their lead. James wriggled her way through the Arsenal backline once again and the ball eventually found Erin Cuthbert, whose trickling effort was turned in by Nusken after stepping in front of Leah Williamson.

Just after the half-hour mark, the hosts had a third. Williamson's poor free-kick from right to left was pounced upon by Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, who dribbled 40 yards to goal before letting fly, and her strike deflected in off of Nusken.

Jonas Eidevall made three changes at the break to try and stem the tide. Katie McCabe found a yard of space inside the final third and let fly soon after the restart, but it flew over Hannah Hampton's goal.

James should have put in Chelsea's fourth when she broke through a sleeping backline and came face-to-face with Zinsberger, but this time the Arsenal stopper came out on top with a great save down low.

Zinsberger made another great save moments later when Reiten's low cross found Rytting Kaneryd, whose top-corner bound strike was punched away.

Arsenal grabbed a consolation goal with five minutes remaining after Chelsea failed to properly clear a corner, with Kim Little's strike finding the corner via a wicked deflection off of Catarina Macario.

That was as good as it got for the Gunners, whose incredibly faint hopes of a late comeback came to an end following five minutes of stoppage time.

Chelsea player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Chelsea FC  v Arsenal FC - Barclays Women¥s Super League
A great team performance from Chelsea / Crystal Pix/MB Media/GettyImages

GK: Hannah Hampton - 7/10 - There wasn't a lot for Hampton to do in order to deny Arsenal's attackers, though she was always alert off her line and got Chelsea going with her fine range of passing. Evidently frustrated to have lost her clean sheet late on.

RB: Eve Perisset - 7/10 - Didn't put much of a foot wrong despite Foord's intentions to get at her down the wing.

CB: Jess Carter - 7/10 - Swept up with ease and was barely troubled by Arsenal's laboured forward line.

CB: Kadeisha Buchanan - 7/10 - All-imposing, all-conquering. Arsenal didn't get a sniff and Buchanan's showing was a major reason.

LB: Niamh Charles - 8/10 - The formidable tandem of McCabe and Mead down Arsenal's right could have proved troublesome for Charles. It did not. Withdrawn in the second half with a minor injury.

CM: Melanie Leupolz - 7/10 - The visitors wanted to play the game at a slower pace, and the vigilant Leupolz wasn't going to let them get away with that, continually winning the ball back and stealing possession.

CM: Erin Cuthbert - 8/10 - Another combatant in Chelsea's quest to keep Arsenal from playing their own game. Came up with an unorthodox assist for Nusken.

RM: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd - 8/10 - Whether taking on Catley or Fox, the Sweden winger always found a way to create a yard of space for herself.

AM: Sjoeke Nusken - 9/10 - One goal and two assists at prime time on a Friday night. It's hard to imagine the German dreaming of having a much better performance against such strong opposition.

LM: Guro Reiten - 8/10 - One of the game's trickiest wingers was at it again at Stamford Bridge tonight. Put in a shift going the other way too, winning the ball back leading to the opener.

CF: Lauren James - 9/10 - The player for the big occasion. Arsenal had absolutely no idea how to stop James in her tracks other than to hack her down. Ran rings around England colleagues Williamson and Wubben-Moy. Met with a standing ovation upon being substituted.


SUB: Ashley Lawrence (70' for Charles) - 6/10

SUB: Catarina Macario (83' for James) - 5/10

Subs not used: Zecira Musovic (GK), Sophie Ingle, Maika Hamano, Jelena Cankovic, Fran Kirby, Aggie Beever-Jones


Emma Hayes - 9/10 - A completely dominant display and one that will make doubters turn to believers when it comes to Chelsea's quadruple hopes.

Arsenal player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Chelsea FC v Arsenal FC - Barclays Women´s Super League
Arsenal never got going / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

GK: Manuela Zinsberger - 3/10 - Arsenal's night of horror began with an awful error at this level. The Gunners have been heavily linked with a new goalkeeper in recent months and a moment like that only highlights that importance. Made some decent saves in the second half in fairness, though the game was already lost.

RB: Katie McCabe - 5/10 - Arsenal didn't have much luck trying to slow James down, but at least McCabe did so with her physicality. Notably booked for a hard trip on the Chelsea forward.

CB: Leah Williamson - 3/10 - Lost the run of Nusken for the second goal and inexplicably gave it away with a failed cross-field free-kick for the third. Still working her way back to sharpness following that ACL injury.

CB: Lotte Wubben-Moy - 4/10 - Stood off James a little too much and let the maverick forward do whatever she pleaded.

LB: Steph Catley - 4/10 - Turned inside and out by James and co. Pulled up with an injury on the stroke of half-time and did not emerge for the second 45.

CM: Victoria Pelova - 4/10 - Was not afforded the time she wanted in the midfield battle. Another player hauled off at the break.

CM: Lia Walti - 4/10 - Similarly wanted a little more freedom to go about her business, but Chelsea's pressing was on another level and Arsenal couldn't cope.

RM: Beth Mead - 5/10 - Popped up with a few flashes of unsustained brilliance. Couldn't get in the game much once Chelsea took control.

AM: Kim Little - 5/10 - Not involved enough in dangerous areas, and when involved deeper didn't keep hold of the ball with much care. Forced the own goal late on.

LM: Caitlin Foord - 5/10 - Always eager to get on her skates and race away but Arsenal as a team just weren't at the races.

CF: Stina Blackstenius - 5/10 - Made one notable run off the ball into the Chelsea box before being hooked at the interval.


SUB: Alessia Russo (46' for Blackstenius) - 5/10

SUB: Frida Maanum (46' for Pelova) - 5/10

SUB: Emily Fox (46' for Catley) - 4/10

SUB: Cloe Lacasse (57' for Foord) - 5/10

SUB: Kyra Cooney-Cross (72' for Walti) - 5/10

Subs not used: Sabrina D'Angelo (GK), Sarah Bouhaddi (GK), Laia Codina, Katie Reid


Jonas Eidevall - 4/10 - A nightmare outcome for Arsenal. Didn't look anywhere near Chelsea's level.

Player of the match - Lauren James (Chelsea)

Chelsea FC  v Arsenal FC - Barclays Women's Super League
Catch her if you can / Gaspafotos/MB Media/GettyImages