The Women’s FA Cup holders are into the last-eight of this season’s competition thanks to striker Bethany England’s 13th and 14th goals of the season and defender Jonna Andersson’s first – an extraordinary hit.
England struck early, as the Blues capitalised on an Arsenal mistake and it was 2-0 by the break after Andersson had rifled in her goal. The third was great finishing by England with an hour of the game gone.
It was certainly a result and performance to contrast with the home league meeting between these sides back in October when Chelsea were defeated 5-0, although we later won against the Gunners away.
For this cup encounter, a repeat of last season’s final, Emma Hayes made one change to the side which had staged the dramatic fightback to draw at Man City a week ago. That was in goal with Ann-Katrin Berger coming in for Hedvig Lindahl and unlike up north where her side were 2-0 down inside 25 minutes, they were off to a flyer at sunny Kingsmeadow this afternoon, taking the lead in only the fifth minute.
Gunners’ defender Emma Mitchell played a helping hand in that opener, allowing herself to be dispossessed by Erin Cuthbert deep in their half. The Scot needed no second invitation to race towards the box before squaring to England. This season’s topscorer guided the ball into the bottom corner for a 1-0 lead.
Berger dived full-stretch to keep out a Dominique Bloodworth shot soon after, the loose ball falling in the Blues' favour. Katie McCabe then drove in from the wing and hit the Chelsea post before Bloodworth flashed a shot across our goal as the visitors responded strongly to going behind.
Millie Bright headed a Karen Carney free-kick onto the roof of the net and Spence lofted a shot over the bar from distance as we began to respond and go in search of a second goal.
Early balls forward towards the runs of England were looking a promising route of attack, and from one such delivery, our centre-forward was not far away from finding Carney in front of goal. The game was approaching 30 minutes played. We had survived that spell of opposition pressure and were now looking the better side, although Beth Mead stabbed one Arsenal chance wide.
The crucial second goal was fired in with half-time approaching and what a strike it was too! Chelsea were moving the ball slickly but there looked little on when Andersson collected a pass over 25 yards out. The Swede not only connected with power, she also put swerve on the ball to leave Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in the Gunners goal clutching vainly at thin air.
There were further Chelsea attempts before the interval and we continued to look the team most likely at the start of the second half, with Cuthbert having a close-range shot saved and England on the stretch shooting wide.
The third goal which killed off the tie came in the 58th minute, England showing pace and poise to make the most of it when Sophie Ingle nodded on Berger’s long kick up field. Once she had latched onto the ball, the Gunners rearguard had no chance of catching our striker, and she powered a shot into the back of the net. 3-0. ‘England for England!’ chanted the Chelsea fans.
Fran Kirby, lacking a little of her usual sharpness having come off the bench, could not finish one-on-one with the keeper after Ingle had played the ball over the top and another sub, Ramona Bachmann, had an effort well saved but the three goals scored were more than enough to send the Blues fans home smiling and make the next round.
The draw for the quarter-finals will be broadcast live on the BBC News Channel and BBC Sport website from approximately 6.30pm tomorrow (Monday).
Chelsea Women are back in action at home on Wednesday when we take on Bristol City in the WSL. Tickets are available here and supporters attending will receive a free scarf.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Berger; Blundell, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson; Spence, Ingle; Cuthbert (Riley 83), Ji (Kirby 71), Carney (c); England (Bachmann 66).
Unused subs Lindahl, Asante, Cooper, Carter.
Scorers England 5, 58, Andersson 39
Arsenal (3-4-3): Peyraud-Magnin; Arnth (Williamson 59), Quinn, Mitchell; McCabe (Evans 68), Bloodworth, Little, Veje; Miedema(Kuyken 75), Mead, Van de Donk.
Unused subs Van Veenendaal, Hazard.
Booked Mitchell 69
Referee Paul Howard