Emma Hayes praised the tactical masterclass her team delivered after Chelsea tore up league leaders Arsenal to secure last season’s FA Cup with a 3-0 victory in front of a dynamic Wembley crowd.
“We got it all,” said the manager. “We predicted what they were going to do and they did what we thought they were going to do. “
Fran Kirby was unplayable as the Blues secured their delayed domestic treble for the 2020-21 season – a quadruple if the Community Shield is included. The England striker gave Chelsea the lead and Hayes whispered in his ear that it was ‘hands down the best performance I’ve ever seen you playing in a Chelsea shirt’ after she was replaced in the second half, when Sam Kerr delivered the fatal blow, scoring twice.
“Champions don’t make excuses, become victims or look for someone else to deal with them,” said Hayes of Kerr, who played twice for Australia in the tournament. international break, was ill, returned, landed Thursday and scored twice here. “Sam takes responsibility and, every time I listen to her and every time I watch her play every day, she is responsible and in control to make sure she sets the standards for herself. And that’s what I admire about her. There was no way she would be on the losing team today. She sets the tone in a way I have rarely seen.
It was hoped that it would be an occasion worthy of the 40,942 spectators and the 100th anniversary of the ban on women’s football from FA-affiliated fields. As a competition, however, the meeting between league leaders and WSL title holders ended almost as quickly as it started, with Chelsea crawling and forcing an Arsenal collapse in the coming week. define their season with Barcelona’s visit to the Emirates Stadium coming Thursday.
“We were like a machine, all within us – we just purred from start to finish,” Hayes said with a literal laugh and meow – a nod to Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall’s admission that ‘he avoids black cats out of superstition.
In fairness, the opening of the third minute was incredibly unlucky. Longtime Arsenal fan Lotte Wubben-Moy threw up her interception and she bounced off a handy Frida Maanum on Kirby’s path that cut through the bottom of the center and side foot past Manuela Zinsberger in the corner.
If the goal was a big dollop of misfortune, Arsenal – with their 14 most important FA Cup wins in FA Cup history – tried their luck for the remainder of the first half with Austria goalkeeper Zinsberger repeatedly responsible for keep the margin narrow.
Hayes’ side have aligned themselves with the three full-backs Jess Carter, Magda Eriksson and Millie Bright who has increasingly settled into the new roster as the season progresses. But whenever Arsenal was in possession of the versatile Erin Cuthbert, playing on the right side of the midfield, lined up alongside the center-back trio, tasked with choking out terrier-like Katie McCabe. It was a hugely effective tactic, cutting off the breadth Arsenal had exploited in the WSL opener between title rivals in September and giving them extra body in the middle as they crammed forward.
“I want Erin to know this, I want her to read this,” Hayes said. “I don’t want Erin to run away on her own; what it is is what you saw. Whether she’s playing in the back-wing situation, sometimes a right-back today, when she gets her hands on everything she achieves at an incredible level, she goes beyond being a player of the game. team, his contributions are so underestimated.
The halftime whistle couldn’t have come soon enough for the defeated Gunners, with Eidevall’s side strongly flattered by the 1-0 scoreline, with both teams having strong penalty calls dismissed . After spending much of the season dominating, fluid and rushed when not in possession, the Arsenal players seemed to barely know each other let alone play together.
After the break, Kerr beat Wubben-Moy on a long Kirby ball, cut inside and shot to the near post to stifle hopes of a retaliation. And the atmosphere then became as lukewarm as Arsenal’s attempted incursions.
Throwing caution to the wind, Eidevall traded defensive midfielders Lia Walti and Jennifer Beattie for forwards Nikita Parris and Caitlin Foord, but that only confused the Red Shirts and Kerr delightfully cut the ball on Zinsberger with 13 minutes remaining to deliver the final blow.
“After the final whistle you feel helpless and that’s an opportunity that’s gone,” said Eidevall. “But I’m not a person motivated by hate or motivated by being hurt or seeing others celebrate. I would really like my players and staff to be there themselves because they deserve it and I can’t wait to have another chance to come back here.