Arsenal W.F.C. secured a thrilling 3-2 win over Chelsea F.C. Women on Sunday at the Emirates. Although this was the first match of the season for both teams. the implications of it could be far-reaching and could be pivotal come May. Over the last few seasons, the three “top” teams in the FA WSL have been Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City W.F.C. and those teams have been separated by a few points each time. A win like this, despite it being only the first of many, could be the difference between a title or settling for a Champions League spot.
To say that today’s win over Chelsea was big for Arsenal is an understatement. Not only have Arsenal’s cross-town rival been dominating the North West London derby as of late, but Chelsea had also not lost a game on the road in 5 years.
Before the start of the season Chelsea were the favorites to the win the league followed by Manchester City and then Arsenal. Many would still consider Chelsea favorites to win the league. However at the end of Week 1, FiveThirtyEight has City with 39% chance to win the league with Chelsea at 25% and Arsenal at 29%.
The wealth of attacking talent Chelsea has is enough to scare any defense, but their own defending may be the problem. Chelsea played in a 3 back formation which gave them the advantage going forward, but it was not enough to stop Vivianne Miedema or Beth Mead.
With Manchester City’s summer signings producing straight away, Arsenal were hoping theirs would do the same and they did. Mana Iwabuchi and Frida Maanum started the game and showed just why Arsenal brought them in. Nikita Parris and Simone Boye came on as substitutions and also showed signs of what they could bring to Arsenal’s title ambitions. With new signing Tobin Heath to still come in and Jordan Nobbs set to come back from injury, today’s result shows that Arsenal will be pushing Chelsea all the way for that title.
While this is only one result, confidence has to be high for Arsenal who had not beaten Chelsea in league game since October 2018. Arsenal have their next big test against Manchester City on September 26th. One win may not seem like a huge deal in a 22 match season, but for Arsenal this is the start they needed. Jonas Eidevall also (who dropped to his knees when the final whistle blew in ecstasy) navigated his first WSL game reasonably well. If he and his team can perform like this against the big sides and take care of business against the smaller sides, Arsenal’s chances of wrestling the title back from Chelsea will be as high as they have ever been.