Emma Hayes reacts to Chelsea late equaliser vs Arsenal: I can't find the words without swearing

Ali Rampling
Sam Kerr netted a late equaliser for Chelsea against Arsenal
Sam Kerr netted a late equaliser for Chelsea against Arsenal / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

Emma Hayes has praised the concentration of her team and the impact of her subs after Sam Kerr netted an 89th minute equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw for Chelsea with WSL title rivals Arsenal.

The Gunners dominated for large periods of the blockbuster fixture at the Emirates on Sunday and should have been home and dry after creating a selection of clear cut opportunities.

However, the Gunners only held a slender 1-0 lead thanks to a controversial Kim Little penalty as the clock ticked down, before Kerr rose highest to head home a magnificent cross from deep from substitute Jelana Cankovic.

"I want to talk about Cankovic coming into the game in the 77th minute and I can't find a proverbial word that doesn't involve swearing about something she delivered," said Hayes. "She's got that thing that can come in and deliver.

"Same as Eve Perisset. I want to focus on the qualities and the attributes of the players and the fact we were getting I think out muscled a little bit just prior to the penalty. And I changed shape immediately to a 3-5-2 and I'm disappointed with myself I didn't do it sooner, and I thought the game changed the minute we changed shape.

"But in terms of our attacking play and the quality into the box and the quality of chances, by our standards was woeful. I didn't think our attacking players had good games today. But that's what top teams can do: Sam Kerr can have a quiet game. But to deliver, to stay switched on, trust me that's such an attribute.

"Because you can spend your time thinking: 'the game's only got three minutes left' or 'I'm not getting any chances'. Someone like Sam is just so focussed, and someone like Jelana can go on and carry out the coach's instruction at that level, of course I'm going to be happy. That adaptability and that tactical application from the team is the thing I'm happiest about today."

Arsenal saw a series of golden opportunities go begging, with Zerica Musovic keeping out efforts from Caitlin Foord, Frida Maanum, Lina Hurtig and Steph Catley.

At the other end, Kerr had spent the afternoon being well marshalled by Leah Williamson and Rafaelle, but the Chelsea striker gave Williamson the slip with a terrific piece of movement and planted a header beyond Manuela Zinsberger. The goal was her 48th in just 57 WSL appearances.

"We can always focus on the things people don't have but what she [Kerr] has not many have," Hayes added. "In fact I don't think anyone in the world can score the number of goals she has throughout her career.

"The standout attribute for Sam for me is exactly that: she doesn't lose focus. Not at any point. She stays confident in the game, she knows that it will only take one chance and she stays switched on to that. The ball from Jelana is absolutely world class. But so was the leap, so was the header. I really admire that, because so often top players have moments, switch off. Not Sam."