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Player ratings as Sam Kerr rescues late point for Blues

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An 89th minute Sam Kerr header rescued a point for Chelsea against Arsenal as the pair played out a 1-1 draw at the Emirates to leave the WSL title race tantalisingly poised.

Arsenal had dominated for large spells of the game, and took the lead just after the hour mark thanks to a contentious Kim Little penalty. The Gunners saw chance after chance go begging before Kerr rose highest to equalise on the cusp of full time.

The result leaves Chelsea three points clear of Arsenal at the league summit, but having played a game more.

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Despite spending much of the game on the back foot, it was Chelsea who saw the afternoon’s first sighting of goal. Lauren James singlehandedly created the opportunity for herself, winning the ball back on the half way line, waltzing past two challenges and driving towards goal before firing narrowly wide.

However, it would be one of very few chances carved out by Chelsea in the opening 45, with Arsenal comfortably the more dangerous side.

Stina Blackstenius was at the heart of Arsenal’s first clear cut opportunity, dispossessing Erin Cuthbert and smartly playing in Lina Hurtig. The Swedish winger’s tame effort was held by Zerica Musovic.

Musovic had a busy first half but was predominantly forced into comfortable saves, with Jonas Eidevall’s pre-match wish for a prolific goal scorer in January evident as Catilin Foord and then Frida Maanum both fired straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper.

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A fizzing Lia Walti effort was blocked by a diving Kadeisha Buchanan header and Hurtig could only find the side netting after being cleverly slotted through by Maanum as the Gunners failed to break the deadlock in the first half.

Arsenal continued to enjoy the better of the chances in the second period, Musovic tipping a looping Hurtig cross away from danger. The Chelsea keeper then kept out the former Juventus winger’s header from point blank range following a superb Steph Catley cross – but again, the effort was straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Musovic was finally beaten as Arsenal broke the deadlock on 57 minutes. Niamh Charles was penalised for a foul on Foord, and Little dispatched the subsequent spot kick. Replays seemed to show that the contact from Charles was outside the box.

The Gunners pushed for a second, Maanum’s wicked cross wreaking havoc in the Chelsea box and Charles producing some improvisation on the goal line to keep out Foord. The Australian winger then forced a fine save from Musovic with a low drive from distance.

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Fran Kirby and Eve Perisset were introduced just after the hour mark in an attempt to freshen things up as Chelsea went in seach for an equaliser. Kirby sliced wide, before Sophie Ingle fired narrowly over after being teed up by Kerr as the Blues enjoyed their best – albeit short – spell of pressure in the Arsenal half.

Catley saw a deep cross tipped onto the bar by Musovic as the Gunners continued to press for a second.

Chelsea registered their first effort in the 77th minute, but Manuela Zinsberger comfortably held Magdalena Eriksson’s header, before Catley produced a stretching block to deny James.

But Arsenal were punished for not killing off the game and on the stroke of full time, Chelsea equalised. Jelana Cankovic’s fabulous cross found the run of Kerr, who ran between two Arsenal defenders and headed home to snatch a draw for the Blues.

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Rafaelle Souza, Sam Kerr

Rafaelle on the ball for Arsenal / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

GK: Manuela Zinsberger – 6/10 – Off her line quickly on a few occasions to snuff out potential danger.

RB: Laura Wienroither – 8/10 – Did a really solid defensive job on Reiten, keeping the usually influential winger uncharacteristically quiet.

CB: Rafaelle – 7/10 – Lost possession in the build up to early chance for James but otherwise won plenty in the air and worked well with Williamson to keep Kerr under wraps.

CB: Leah Williamson – 6/10 – Brought the ball out from the back well on a number of occasions, and, together with Rafaelle, did a good defensive job on Kerr for 89 minutes – before losing the run of the Australian striker for Chelsea’s equaliser.

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LB: Steph Catley – 8/10 – Found the head of Hurtig with a wicked delivery in the second half from which Arsenal almost opened the scoring. Struck the bar with a deep cross, and produced a stunning, stretching block to deny James.

CM: Lia Walti – 6/10 – Dived in as James skipped past her and came close to opening the scoring in the early exchanges. Saw a fizzing effort deflect wide in the first half.

CM: Kim Little – 7/10 – Coolly dispatched from the spot to give Arsenal the lead. Switched play well on a few occasions, effortlessly good in tight spaces.

CM: Frida Maanum – 7/10 – Fired straight at Musovic twice in the first half. Cleverly played in Hurtig in the build up to a decent Arsenal chance, and created an opening for Foord with a wicked cross.

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RW: Lina Hurtig – 6/10 – Preferred to McCabe on the right flank and really should have got on the scoresheet over the course of the match.. Saw Arsenal’s first chance of the game but her tame effort was easily saved, and fired another opportunity into the side netting. Tested Musovic with a free header in the second half.

ST: Stina Blackstenius – 6/10 – Singlehandedly carved out Arsenal’s first opening, dispossessing Cuthbert and smartly sliding in Hurtig.

LW: Caitlin Foord – 8/10 – Fired straight at Musovic in the first half after working the opportunity herself. Won the penalty from which Arsenal took the lead with a driving run towards the box. Drew a save from Musovic with a low drive.

SUB: Katie McCabe (81′ for Hurtig) – 6/10

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Lauren James, Steph Catley

Lauren James in action for Chelsea / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

GK: Zerica Musovic – 8/10 – Forced into a number of routine saves in the first half, holding onto efforts from Foord and Maanum. Made three good saves to keep out a Hurtig header, Foord drive and Catley cross in the second.

RB: Niamh Charles – 5/10 – Beaten by Foord in the first half in the build-up to an Arsenal chance, before conceding the penalty from which the Gunners took the lead for a shoulder barge on Foord – looked hard done by, with the contact taking place outside the box.

CB: Millie Bright – 6/10 – Won a couple of important headers and made a few big clearances to cut out potentially dangerous Arsenal crosses.

CB: Kadeisha Buchanan – 6/10 – Superbly blocked a Walti effort with a diving header in the first half and made a great recovery tackle on Blackstenius in the second.

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LB: Magdalena Eriksson – 5/10 – Lost track of Hurtig in the build-up to an early Arsenal chance. Saw a header comfortably saved in the second half.

CM: Sophie Ingle – 6/10 – Sent a sweetly-struck effort just over in the second half. Typically neat and tidy.

CM: Erin Cuthbert – 6/10 – Conceded possession dangerously in the early stages and was dispossessed by Blackstenius in the build-up to a clear-cut Arsenal chance. Saw a couple of chances from the edge of the box blocked

CM: Jessie Fleming – 5/10 – Largely on the fringes of the game and unable to have a telling impact. Replaced just after the hour mark.

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RW: Lauren James – 6/10 – Created the game’s first chance herself with a driving run from the half way line before firing narrowly wide. Looked Chelsea’s most dangerous player, but limited in her opportunities to really get at the Arsenal backline.

ST: Sam Kerr – 7/10 – Sent in behind on a few occasions but the passes were usually marginally over hit and Zinsberger was off her line quickly. Teed up Ingle for a decent chance in the second half, before making a great run between two Arsenal defenders and planting a header past Zinsberger at the death to rescue a point for Chelsea.

LW: Guro Reiten – 5/10 – Kept relatively quiet by Wienroither, with her usual destructive influence limited.

SUB: Eve Perisset (62′ for Charles) – 6/10

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SUB: Fran Kirby (62′ for Fleming) – 6/10

SUB: Jelena Cankovic (81′ for Ingle) – 7/10

SUB: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (85′ for Erikkson) – 6/10

Player of the match: Steph Catley (Arsenal)



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Orlando City & Inter Miami bolster rosters

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The MLS transfers are heating up as the 2023 campaign approaches. Here’s everything you missed:

Orlando City make another signing.

Orlando City make another signing. / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City have signed midfielder Dagur Dan Thórhallsson from Icelandic top-flight side Breidablik. He joins on a two-year contract through the 2024 Major League Soccer season with club options in 2025 and 2026, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and ITC.

“Dagur Dan is a versatile player that can play both in the midfield for us, out on the wings or even at right back if we need and he’s been involved with Iceland’s national team program since his days with the U16s,” Luiz Muzzi, Orlando’s EVP of soccer operations and general manager, said in a release.

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“He has a great engine and fits the profile of a box-to-box player that can give us strength in both our attack and defense.”

Moussa Djitte

Austin FC loan Moussa Djitte. / Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Austin FC loan forward Moussa Djitte to Ligue 1 side AC Ajaccio through June 30, 2023. The deal includes a purchase option.

He departs temporarily after joining the team in 2021 from Ligue 2 side Grenoble Foot 38, for their inaugural Major League Soccer season. He managed five goals and two assists in 30 appearances for Austin.

Djitté has held a U22 Initiative spot for the Verde & Black.

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Sergii Kryvtsov

Inter Miami sign Sergii Kryvtsov . / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Inter Miami sign defender Sergii Kryvtsov from Shakhtar Donetsk.

He joins on a two-year contract through the 2024 MLS season, with an option for 2025. 

The defensive veteran managed 17 titles during his 13-year spell with Shakhtar, and featured for the Ukrainian national team on 31 occasions. 

“Sergii is a composed defender who will provide valuable experience to our defensive line after many years playing at the highest levels both at the club and international levels; he is a solid defender in the air and possesses strong leadership skills having been vice-captain at his previous club,” Chris Henderson, Miami’s chief soccer officer and sporting director, said in a release.

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“Sergii is arriving after preseason with Shakhtar Donetsk, so he is ready to get incorporated into the group. We look forward to watching him represent the Inter Miami colors and help the team work towards a successful season in 2023.”



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Hector Bellerin joins Sporting CP from Barcelona

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Full-back Hector Bellerin has joined Sporting CP until the end of the season from Barcelona.

The Spanish international was signed by Barca in the summer but made just three La Liga appearances for the club in the first half of the season.

As such, Bellerin has now left the club in search of more first team football.

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A statement on Barcelona’s website reads regarding the move reads: “Barcelona and Sporting Clube de Portugal have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Hector Bellerin. 

“FC Barcelona would like to express publicly their gratitude to Bellerin for his commitment and his dedication and wish him all the best for the future. 

“Hector Bellerin made seven appearances for the first team. FC Barcelona announced his arrival in the summer of 2022 after he left Premier League side Arsenal as a free agent. The right back returned to the Club 11 years after leaving the youth teams at FC Barcelona to join the London club. 

“Bellerin made his first team debut on 10 September in the 4-0 win away at Cádiz, starting the game at right back. The defender went to make two more appearances in La Liga, two in the Copa del Rey and two in the Champions League.”

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Crystal Palace confirm loan signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga

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Crystal Palace have confirmed the deadline day loan signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga from Arsenal.

Lokonga featured sporadically for Arsenal during the first half of the 2022/23 season, making just two Premier League starts as the Gunners have mounted an unlikely title challenge.

The midfielder has now joined Palace on loan for the remainder of the campaign in search of more regular football.

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Speaking to the club’s official website after making the move, Lokonga said: “I’m really excited – I can’t wait to get started. I’m really happy to join Crystal Palace. I want to go as far as possible with the team. I will try to push for me and the team to do the maximum to reach the top.”

Palace chairman Steve Parish was quick to praise Lokonga too, saying: “I would like to welcome Sambi to south London, and am pleased he has chosen to join Patrick’s squad for the rest of the season, after making an impressive start to life in English football.

“He has been on our radar for several years since his emergence at Anderlecht, and we very much look forward to his contribution as we push to climb the table”.

The midfielder has been replaced by Jorginho at Arsenal, with the Italian midfielder making the move across London from Chelsea to join the Gunners on a permanent deal.

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On this edition of TCOAG, Harry Symeou reacts to the news Arsenal have agreed a £12m deal to sign Jorginho from Chelsea. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!



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