Arsenal Women must handle pressure of thrashing Chelsea 5-0 - Joe Montemurro

James Benge
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Joe Montemurro has challenged his Arsenal side to handle the weight of expectations that will follow their stunning 5-0 win over Chelsea as they look to establish themselves as one of Europe’s top sides once more.

The Gunners extended their winning start to the WSL season to four games (with 21 goals scored), but this was by some margin the most significant victory yet.

Reigning champions Chelsea had gone unbeaten on their way to the title last season and had not lost a league game at Kingsmeadow since May 2016.

But after a bright start the Blues were blown away after Kim Little scored from the penalty spot, with Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Nobbs both netting braces.

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The result will inevitably lead to increased expectation on Arsenal - historically the most successful English women’s side but without a league title since 2012 - but Montemurro is relishing that.

“If we want to be one of the best teams in the country and in Europe we have to expect this pressure,” he told Standard Sport.

“We’ll manage it from a day-to-day, week-to-week scenario and make sure everyone is level-headed and playing to the gameplan. We have to continue to play that way.

“Was that the performance of one of Europe’s best teams? I’ll leave it to you to make the comparisons. It was a good day.

"They had a couple of chances in the first half, the game could have gone a different way if they’d been one-up or got a penalty. It could have been a different story but I credit our players.

“We had to weather a storm, you’re coming away from home playing one of the best teams in Europe. There’s a lot of nerves and a lot of pressure. We dealt with it in a good way.”

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Montemurro added: “It’s another step forward. It’s an important step, we’re happy that the gameplan went well - it was a little bit different to the normal way.

"Chelsea attack in numbers and we felt if we were smart enough we could get them on the break at speed. We did that.”

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Chelsea boss Emma Hayes could not hide her disappointment at the match, which might have been different had Ramona Bachmann made the most of a close-range chance after only four minutes.

Even at 2-0 down early in the second half, Chelsea still probed for an equaliser. But moments after Leah Williamson had denied Drew Spence, Nobbs’ miscued cross put Arsenal out of sight.

Hayes said: “I thought we were dominant before the goal… we stifled them, suffocated them. They get their first attack and they get a penalty. You have to keep your heads cool and we didn’t.

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“At half-time you knew the third was important, I don’t think if Jordan Nobbs does that 100 times she’ll score that goal. They went 3-0 up and it was game over.

"Goals are the key parts of it but in the key moments where it was time to execute we didn’t, we haven’t been clinical enough nor have we been good enough defensively.”