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Matildas involved in embarrassing kit drama for Arsenal

AP PHOTO

Matildas Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and Kyra Cooney-Cross have been involved in an awkward kit mishap as Chelsea and Arsenal's WSL clash had to be delayed by 30 minutes because of a clash of socks.

The trio all play for the Gunners who arrived at Stamford Bridge with the same colour white socks as the hosts, causing referee Rebecca Welch to delay the match until a solution was found.

Arsenal ended up sporting black socks from Chelsea's megastore to enable the match to go ahead.

Blue tape was then used in a makeshift attempt to hide the Nike logo on the socks, with Arsenal's kit manufactured by Adidas.

As the scheduled kick-off time approached, a crowd of more than 30,000 in west London were instead treated to loud music.

Former Arsenal men's striker Ian Wright, a keen supporter of the women's game, posted on social media site X: "Embarrassing this. Ridiculous."

Things did not improve for Arsenal once the match began, as a Lauren James goal and two from Sjoeke Nusken gave Chelsea a 3-0 half-time lead.

Chelsea's Catarina Macario scored an own goal in the 86th minute to put the Gunners on the board.

The victory moved the league leaders three points clear of Manchester City, who have the chance to respond against Brighton on Sunday, and six ahead of the Gunners.

Former England international Izzy Christiansen said the delayed start would have had an impact on the players.

She said on Sky Sports: "As a player you work so hard over the years to come up with your way of preparing for a game.

"Things like this are difficult to deal with. It's how you find a way of dealing with it internally and not let it affect your preparation."

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall admitted the mix-up did not help his side.

"I only knew it was a clash of colours with the kits and it needed to be resolved. Why that was I have no idea, that's not what I spend my time and energy on.

"Of course we had to deal with it from a mental and a physical perspective, how we can warm up again.

"When you're ready to go out and play then you have to reset. Of course we try to have strategies but we were slow in our start today."

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes admitted she was delighted with the incident and relished seeing Arsenal players wearing Chelsea lions on their socks.

Hayes also called for less criticism towards Arsenal's kit man, acknowledging he was left red-faced after the mix-up.

"I'm not throwing the kit man under the bus," Hayes said.

"He's going to be feeling terrible tonight, it was a mistake. He's a new guy, new into the position so please don't slaughter him.

"I was delighted to see lion crests on Arsenal players' legs in the first half. Maybe that gave my players motivation, I don't know."