Magdalena Eriksson’s early thumping header into the Arsenal goal set the tone for an emphatic display from Chelsea, who started their defence of the Continental Cup with their sixth consecutive victory in all competitions over Arsenal.
The Gunners were hoping to banish painful pre-pandemic memories of their last two meetings against the league champions but to their horror, they practically re-lived in a game which began at a frantic pace.
Joe Montemurro’s side suffered a 4-1 pre-pandemic home drubbing the last time these two sides met in the league in January, when Chelsea stunned them with four goals inside 22 minutes.
It seemed as if Emma Hayes’ side set out with the intention to better that ratio, judging by the manner in which they repeatedly penetrated a porous line of red shirts as they raced into a 3-1 lead on a damp evening in Kingston as they once again outclassed their London rivals.
“We’ve found a recipe that’s been working, but we will stay humble,” Eriksson insisted. “Tonight was a nice confirmation of what we’ve been doing, but we’re not going to take our foot off the gas.”
Guro Reiten steered Maria Thrisdottir’s cross into the bottom corner barely two minutes after Arsenal’s equaliser through Caitlin Foord, to instantly restore Chelsea’s lead and the Noreweigan international was at the centre of the action minutes later, dunking the ball over Manuela Zinsburger after Arsenal failed to clear their lines.
Foord’s leveller did little to stabilise Arsenal, who were aiming to avenge their heartache in this competition after being pipped to the trophy in last year’s final, when Beth England’s struck at the death.
She haunted Arsenal with another late finish here, rounding Zinsburger seconds before the final whistle, offering a brutal snapshot of the catching up Arsenal have to do if they are to stay in touching distance of the league champions this season.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Telford 28; Thorisdottir 2, Bright 4, Ingle 5, Ji 10: Reiten 11 (Kirby, 60); Erikkson 16, Kerr 20 (England 75); Charles 21 (Cuthbert, 60); Harder 23 (J.Fleming 90); Andersson 25.
Subs: Berger, Blundell, Mjelde, Leupolz, C.Fleming, J.Fleming, Cuthbert, Kirby, England.
Arsenal (4-3-2-1): Zinsburger 1; Maier, Wubben-Moy 3, Beattie 5, Maritz 16, Gut 21: Walti 13, Van de Donk 7 (Williamson, 77); Mead 9 (McCabe 77); Miedema 11, Foord 19 (Mace 83)
Subs: Stenson, McCabe, Williamson, Schnaderbeck, Mace.
Booked: Van de Donk.