Leah Williamson put the icing on the cake of a week in which she was England captain twice by scoring Arsenal’s last goal in an outright 5-0 defeat to Manchester City to catapult the club at the top of the women’s Super League.
Vivianne Miedema opened the scoring from the start and her effort was completed with a goal in each half for captain Kim Little and strikes for fullback Katie McCabe and Williamson as Arsenal claimed a first league victory against City in two years – coincidentally returning to the previous time City have lost three games in a row.
Positivity in the stands is a familiar feeling for Arsenal here at Borehamwood and it was reinforced by the men’s team victory in the 13-mile North London Derby.
City got the better of Arsenal three times last season, including two 2-1 league wins, but there is a feeling the home side have resolutely narrowed last season’s seven-point gap between the clubs after an instantly impactful spending summer and with new manager, Jonas Eidevall, impressive.
Arsenal have been helped by City’s heavy toll. Their captain Steph Houghton has been added to a roster that includes Lucy Bronze, first choice goalie Ellie Roebuck, defensive midfielder Keira Walsh and defenseman Esme Morgan after injuring his ankle during training with the ‘England. His absence was strongly felt. New center-back couple Alex Greenwood, recently converted from right-back, and Australia’s Alanna Kennedy were lacking in cohesion and the latter gave Arsenal the opener after City started off brilliantly.
A poorly hitting back pass was short and goaltender Karima Taieb was forced to race Beth Mead for the loose ball; they got tangled but Mead jumped freely and lined up with Miedema who, back on goal, spun and shot home.
City, despite all their dominance of possession (64% in the first half), struggled to find the final ball. There were also worrying moments, with forward Ellen White, who has scored seven goals in 11 games against her former team, and winger Lauren Hemp temporarily on pay down.
Arsenal were much more efficient, creating luck after chance by intimidating the exhausted visitors backline.
They doubled the lead mid-half with the dynamic Little dancing past Greenwood and a hesitant Kennedy before passing Taieb, who got his hands dirty and maybe could have done more.
At a time when McCabe had the crowd standing as she clung to Lia Walti’s superb ball from the back, which bounced gently off Georgia Stanway, crushed it on Kennedy and fired.
Then Greenwood was at fault, with the England international penalized for a soft challenge on Little and Little converting on the spot, before Williamson completed the rout, heading from the corner of Caitlin Foord.
In a series of changes as Eidevall looked to rest his legs, there was a late appearance for recently arrived two-time World Cup winner and longtime Arsenal fan Tobin Heath, who was signed after leaving. Manchester United at the end of last season.
When Eidevall arrived he said the club need to do more against the big teams and while City are not complete, this victory combined with Chelsea’s defeat on Matchday 1 means his side have raised the challenge. to its title rivals.