Chelsea were competing in their fourth consecutive League Cup final and hadn’t lost in all competitions since Liverpool stunned them in the opening day of the WSL season last autumn.
Yet they put on one of their most disjointed displays of the season as Arsenal emerged victorious in a one-sided final.
Sam Kerr put the Blues ahead after just 98 seconds, but Stina Blackstenius levelled soon after. Gunners skipper Kim Little put her side into the lead from the penalty spot, before a Niamh Charles own goal compounded Chelsea’s misery just before the break.
The second half was much more cagey but Arsenal ultimately held on to extend their record number of League Cup titles in the women’s game to six.
“We looked like a team who had won a lot, and they hadn’t,” Chelsea manager Hayes reflected. “The [number] of one-on-one duels they dominated today is the thing I’m most disappointed.
“I don’t think anyone played well today. Congratulations to Arsenal, they were by far and away the better team.
“I saw the fire in the players for Arsenal and I didn’t see that in us today,” she added. “I’m very disappointed with that complacency for us. I have a disappointed dressing room, not just because we’ve lost but because of our standards. That was nowhere hear us today.”
Chelsea host Brighton in the WSL on Wednesday evening, while Arsenal welcome Liverpool to Borehamwood on the same night.