By PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea were humiliated at home as they were routed 5-0 by north London rivals Arsenal at Kingsmeadow this afternoon to stay top of WSL 1.
The champions were second best in every position and if ever a wake-up call was needed this was it. Arsenal by contrast have four straight wins in a row and looking bright to be the outstanding side in the league this season.
The current WSL1 champions even took it upon themselves after goal number five to have a impromptu get together to try and gee themselves up. But by then it was far, far too late.
The Blues return to Kingston on Wednesday to face Fiorentina in the Champions League. In truth the league is already going, and the best the Blues can do to salvage a disastrous opening to their season is to progress in the top cup competition.
Until today, Chelsea had not conceded a league goal in four games nor were they beaten. But they had three 0-0 draws in that sequence and that lack of cutting edge firepower was the reason for this defeat.
The Blues started well enough piling on the early pressure with Arsenal centre-back Lisa Evans clearing off the line from Magdalena Eriksson after excellent set-up play by Fran Kirby on four minutes.
Kirby had a run and shot on seven minuted. But the effort was straight into then midriff of goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
Drew Spence saw a close range header inch wide on 17 minutes as the home side tried to snatch the opener.
Arsenal, by contrast, decided to play on the counter-attack and success for them early on saw a raft of corners which Chelsea, while not comfortable clearing , did so.
Bu on one attack Adelina Engman upended Emma Mitchell in the penalty area and Kim Little smashed home past Carly Telford on 21 minutes.
It was the first goal Chelsea had conceded in the league this season.
A Little turn and cross, inched over Carly’s crossbar as the visitors, buoyed by their goal, established superiority in possession and pushed fo the second.
Bachman hit the post with a deep right-wing cross on 31 minutes but the Blues were unable to capitalise on the ricochet.
Ji So Yun tried her hand at a 25-yarder free-kick four minutes later, but Perrault-Magnin dived to her left and snaffled the effort.
Arsenal struck number two on 38 minutes when Engman was unable to stop Vivienne Miedema’s left footed effort, which took a slight deflection, and zipped past Telford.
Ji and Van De Donk clashed after the Arsenal no 7 racked her studs down her leg. The South Korea midfielder reacted by lashing out. Referee Sam Purkiss handed out a lecture rather than any hue of coloured card.
There were no changes by either side by half time.
Leah Williamson denied a Spence tap-in from close range straight after the restart as the Blues went in search of a goal to claw their way back into the match.
Jonna Andersson zipped a left footer just wide of Peyraud-Magnin right post on 50 minutes.
Straight up the other end and seconds later, and the game was over as Jordan Nobbs scored an audacious, freakish goal from the right wing. Her 30-yard cross took a change of direction and sailed high and wide of the despairing grasp of Telford and the ball nestled into the far side netting to extend the vistors’ lead.
Emma Hayes made her first change, bringing Erin Cuthbert for Engman on 55 minutes. Number four came from the boot of Miedema as Telford was caught off her line having thwarted Mead.
Ali Riley came on to make her debut for Andersson on 59 minutes.
Spence’s frustration at the tide of events saw her get a yellow card after she cut down Kim Little and then pushed Lia Walti. It could easily have been a red card for the midfielder who was given a presentation before the game for playing 150 times four the Blues.
Little was taken off and replaced by Katie McCabe.
The humiliation was complete when number five from Nobbs slotted home on 67 minutes following a fine counter-attack.
Telford, Thorisdottir, Bright, Carter, Jim, Kirby, Eriksson, Engman, Andersson, Bachmann, Spence
Subs: Lindahl, Blundell, Ingle, Carney, Carney, Riley, England, Cuthbert
Arsenal: Peyraun-Magnin, Mitchell, Williamson, Van de Donk, Nobbs, Little, Miedema, Evans, Walti, Bloodworth, Mead
SAubs: Van Veeneddaal, Samuelson, McCabe, Quinn, Kuyken
Referee: Sam Purkiss