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Women's FA Cup: Chelsea's depth shines as inconsistent Arsenal punished

Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea: Emma Hayes praises ‘dominant’ Chelsea in FA Cup semi-final

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said her side are “evolving” and praised the consistency in performances throughout the squad following their Women’s FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal.

The defending champions scored two goals in 11 minutes in the second half to set up a Wembley final against Manchester City.

Key players Fran Kirby and Magdalena Eriksson did not play, while Pernille Harder came on as a substitute but Hayes said the “character” of her side helped them step up in the second half.

“It’s not easy to keep winning, it really isn’t,” said Hayes.

“I give real credit to the whole group because I’m starting to see parity, and more importantly consistency, across the whole group.

“It was a whole team performance that we were proud of. Once we got the second goal the game felt easier. We were more confident and comfortable.

“You have to earn that. Our superiority in the second half was due to the character in the team.”

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Chelsea’s goals came from midfielders Guro Reiten and Ji So-yun early in the second half after a bright start from the hosts.

Arsenal had come close moments before Reiten’s opener when Beth Mead spun in the box and fired inches wide.

Hayes said midfield “was where the game was won” by Chelsea and she was pleased to see players throughout the squad have an impact.

“Ever since January I’ve seen an even level across the squad – regardless of who they are. It is not about any one player,” she said.

“The players who are coming into the team have as much right playing as those who have established themselves over years. That’s what we want in our environment.

“I think it’s part of the reason why we’re vying for more titles. We’re evolving not just with the same players.”

It was the fourth meeting this season between the sides, who are separated by just one point at the top of the Women’s Super League table.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their past three games with Arsenal and have not conceded a goal to them since their 3-2 defeat at Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the WSL season.

Hayes’ side also beat Arsenal in the delayed 2020-21 FA Cup final in December before ending the Gunners’ latest campaign at Meadow Park.

“I love coming here, I really do. I think our team have performed well over the years here,” added Hayes.

“It took us a really long time to get going but once we did I thought we made it difficult for Arsenal to settle on the ball in the areas they wanted to.”

Arsenal ‘need to develop more consistency’

Arsenal players thank supporters
Arsenal have won one of their four meetings with Chelsea this season

In contrast, Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall was frustrated by his side’s lack of consistency.

They were the better side for most of the first half but failed to record a shot on target and did not make the most of their chances.

“Consistency – I think that’s the difference. It turned out to be the quality in the deciding actions of the game,” said Eidevall.

“If we are going to beat a team like Chelsea we need to be consistent and not be reliant on scoring the first goal.

“It’s clear that when we are playing at our best we can play against any team, but we need to develop more consistency doing our basic principles over and over.”

Arsenal, who were also knocked out of the quarter-finals of the Champions League, have three games to make up a one-point gap with Chelsea in the WSL title race.

And despite losing out to Chelsea in the FA Cup, Eidevall hopes his side can maintain a challenge for the rest of the season.

“I’m very disappointed with the match today, but I’m also very motivated to do everything here to finish off the season as strongly as possible,” he said.

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