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Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City: Champions hand City first loss

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It was as comfortable a 1-0 game can be

Arsenal v Manchester City - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Kate McShane/Getty Images

Arsenal returned to winning ways in the FA WSL, as Vivianne Miedema’s 43rd minute goal handed Manchester City their first loss of the season. The Gunners, who beat City 1-0 last season, moved to second place, a point behind Chelsea.

In truth, Manchester City offered little, and the Gunners didn’t have to play outstandingly well to get the three points. City had two shots on target, with one a soft header, and another, from Janine Beckie, a cross-shot. Ellen White came on to make her debut, but had very few touches even as Manchester City chased the game, and Arsenal should’ve wrapped it up at the death, with Jordan Nobbs failing to take advantage of a sitter after she was played in by Miedema’s cross.

With City missing White, Keira Walsh, and Aofie Mannion, it was always going to be a tougher game for last season’s runners-up. City played deep, preventing Arsenal space in behind, with Beckie sitting on Leah Williamson, whose passing is key to Arsenal starting attacks.

With City sitting deep, transitions were important, and Arsenal’s play off the ball was exemplary. Intelligent positioning allowed them to mostly snuff out counter attacks, with Katie McCabe at one point shuttling across from left back to block off a counter from Georgia Stanway. Winning the ball in transition also allowed Arsenal to take advantage of City trying to get back into shape, and their first chance came from such a moment: Nobbs won the ball, and played it to Miedema, whose shot went over. Lisa Evans also went close after a one-two from Little and Nobbs, before Miedema broke the deadlock. Katie McCabe’s cross was deflected, Kim Little picked the ball up in midfield, and played a through ball for Miedema, who, played onside by Steph Houghton, slotted past Ellie Roebuck.

Arsenal limited City’s play in the second half, mostly through their pressing and play off the ball, with Leah Williamson visibly applauding Miedema and Van de Donk’s play at one stage. As the game drew on, City began to concede lots of free kicks, and from one, Nobbs should’ve scored after a chipped Little pass. Nobbs should’ve sealed the three points in the third of five added minutes, after Miedema stripped Houghton of possession and played Nobbs in with only Roebuck to beat. Nobbs screwed her shot left of the post, but it would not matter, as City couldn’t make their last minute corner matter.

Arsenal play Slavia Praha in the second leg of the Champions League on Thursday, with an aggregate lead of 5-2 from the first leg.