One of the most frequently contested fixtures in women’s top-flight football offered its characteristic level of excitement – with four goals coming inside the first quarter of an hour – as a towering header by Magdalena Eriksson, a brilliant brace from Guro Reiten and a landmark 50th Chelsea goal for Bethany England ensured the defending League Cup champions came out on top against the early Women’s Super League leaders.
The new-look Conti Cup got off to a blistering start under the west London lights when Eriksson sharply turned the ball in from the opening corner of the game, before Chelsea’s lead was instantly blunted by Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord, only for Guro Reiten to reinstate and extend it, with still only 15 minutes on the clock.
Following a flood of attacking football in which nearly every chance ended up as a goal, the hosts eventually asserted our superiority over the Gunners’ possession play and dominated the match, just as we did in last season’s final against the same opposition. We take this victory into our league showdown with Manchester City on Sunday of this busy week.
With the largest squad in the WSL at her disposal and three fixtures in quick succession to negotiate, it was no surprise that Emma Hayes opted to rotate. It was an extra special night for England youth international Niamh Charles, who made her full debut for the club. Alongside her, Pernille Harder had her first taste of Conti Cup action, as part of a refreshed front four, spearheaded by Sam Kerr, supported by Reiten. However, the Chelsea defence had a more familiar feel, the experienced Carly Telford coming back in between the posts, behind our now regular back four of Maria Thorisdottir, Millie Bright, our skipper Eriksson and Jonna Andersson.