Arsenal impressed at the Emirates Stadium as they showed their title challenge intent with a victory over defending champions Chelsea in their Women’s Super League opener.
In a game of real quality, in front of over 8,000 fans, Arsenal could not have put on a better show.
England international Beth Mead scored twice in the second half after Vivianne Miedema had opened the scoring.
Erin Cuthbert levelled on the stroke of half time for Chelsea but Mead’s double in 11 minutes put Arsenal in the driving seat.
Pernille Harder’s header set up a dramatic ending as Chelsea pushed desperately for an equaliser but Arsenal, helped over the line by the roar of the home fans, held on for a huge victory to kick-start their season.
- Relive Arsenal’s victory over Chelsea
There were a number of chances at both ends and there could easily have been more goals were it not for some last-ditch defending from Arsenal’s Leah Williamson and Jen Beattie in particular.
Mead, who was hugely impressive in front of new England manager Sarina Wiegman looking on from the stands, could have grabbed a hat-trick when she was denied from close range in the second half.
That chance came minutes after Chelsea midfielder Guro Reiten’s cross clipped the top of the crossbar.
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes wasted little time in bringing on key forwards Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby after the break but despite peppering Arsenal’s goal in the last 10 minutes, they could not get a breakthrough.
Jonas Eidevall, who joined Arsenal as manager in the summer, was on his feet throughout, organising and applauding his team as they worked tirelessly when out of possession.
The quality of Chelsea’s attacking play remained a threat but Arsenal displayed real grit and intensity as they dealt with a persistent onslaught from the Blues in the dying minutes.
It was a statement of intent from the hosts, who finished third last season and a long way off the title race between Chelsea and runners-up Manchester City.
Chelsea, who only lost one game last season in the league, were reminded of the challenge that lies ahead in defending their title.
‘A perfect Arsenal performance’
Ex-England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis on BBC Radio 5 Live: “We saw the quality – the world-class players we have at our disposal in the WSL. Arsenal were at full tilt today. All the Arsenal fans can see the side have energy and a style.
“There is a real tactical nous about them. It was immaculate. A perfect performance from Arsenal.
“Arsenal took real pride about executing the little things. They will be exceptionally happy. Chelsea only conceded 10 goals last season and Arsenal have scored three today.”
- 5BeattieSubstituted forSørensenat 77′minutes
- 15McCabeBooked at 23minsSubstituted forCatleyat 61′minutes
- 13WältiSubstituted forWubben-Moyat 84′minutes
- 9MeadSubstituted forPattenat 83′minutes
- 23IwabuchiSubstituted forParrisat 61′minutesBooked at 85mins
- 4BrightSubstituted forFlemingat 87′minutes
- 16ErikssonBooked at 66mins
- 21CharlesSubstituted forKirbyat 56′minutes
- 8LeupolzSubstituted forIngleat 56′minutes
- 11ReitenSubstituted forAnderssonat 83′minutes
- 9EnglandSubstituted forKerrat 56′minutes
- Rebecca Welch
Match ends, Arsenal Women 3, Chelsea Women 2.
Second Half ends, Arsenal Women 3, Chelsea Women 2.
Ji So-Yun (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Frida Maanum (Arsenal Women).
Attempt missed. Fran Kirby (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Charlotte Wubben-Moy.
Attempt blocked. Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal Women) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nikita Parris.
Foul by Fran Kirby (Chelsea Women).
Nikita Parris (Arsenal Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Chelsea Women. Ji So-Yun tries a through ball, but Sam Kerr is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Jessie Fleming (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Pernille Harder.
Attempt saved. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ji So-Yun.
Offside, Arsenal Women. Kim Little tries a through ball, but Nikita Parris is caught offside.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Jessie Fleming replaces Millie Bright.
Nikita Parris (Arsenal Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nikita Parris (Arsenal Women).
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Charlotte Wubben-Moy replaces Lia Wälti.
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Anna Patten replaces Beth Mead because of an injury.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Jonna Andersson replaces Guro Reiten.