Second half goals from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema saw Arsenal Women beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0, in front of a WSL record crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The match, the first North London Derby in the WSL, was surprisingly even for large portions of the 90 minutes, but Arsenal’s superior quality came through in a better second-half performance.
The last time the two sides met was in the summer, when Arsenal won 6-0 in a pre-season friendly. The Gunners started the first half well, with some early half-chances and good combination play and possession, as Tottenham stood off their opponents. Having settled into the match, Tottenham began to up both the tempo and the physicality, particularly targeting Lia Wälti at the base of Arsenal’s midfield, and using direct passes to get behind the midfield and full backs. After Beth Mead wove through the Spurs defence only to see her shot curve wide, Tottenham had two excellent chances to go ahead.
First, the ball bounced favourably off of Jen Beattie, allowing Kit Graham to get in on goal. With only Manuela Zinsberger to beat, Graham went for power instead of placement, striking straight at Zinsberger, who parried, before Leah Williamson cleared. Soon after, Wälti lost possession, Spurs worked the ball to Graham at the edge of the area, and her strike hit the stanchion, with Zinsberger stranded. Finally, Rianna Dean was played onside, collected a long ball, and from a narrow angle went wide of the far post.
Arsenal, though, regained some control, and after Danïelle van de Donk held the ball the up and found Katie McCabe, the Arsenal left back hit the bar. Right before the end of the first half, neat interplay between Van de Donk and Kim Little created a chance for Beth Mead, but she spooned her shot over.
Arsenal, though, began to dominate the exchanges. Spurs had some corner kicks, but Zinsberger had very little to do, saving well from one long shot. Arsenal, meanwhile, began to create solid half chances, with Vivianne Miedema going closest from range. In the 66th minute, Arsenal broke through, via their outstanding player on the day, Kim Little. A long ball to Miedema was half-cleared, and Little picked the clearance up, moved onto her left foot, and passed her shot into the far corner beyond Becky Spencer.
Little was industrious, and began dropping deep, helping Arsenal control the game after Spurs’ 442 approach affected the ability of Arsenal to build through Williamson, Beattie, and Wälti. A neat passing combination between Little, van de Donk and Jordan Nobbs set up a half-chance for Miedema, but the ball was prodded away before she could shoot, with similar happening to Mead after a clever pass from Nobbs.
Miedema would get her goal in the 82nd minute. A short back-pass from former Arsenal academy player Anna Filbey was intercepted by Miedema, who calmly chipped Spencer and then celebrated in front of the Arsenal away end, who made up close to three thousand of the thirty-eight thousand strong attendance.
Afterwards, Little spoke of needing to be patient, knowing that Spurs’ players would be up for the match. Joe Montemurro expressed his displeasure at Arsenal’s first-half performance, when their positioning was off, but the second-half performance was enough for Arsenal to put Tottenham away, allowing the Gunners to keep pace with Chelsea and Manchester City, who both won.
Arsenal are now third in the league, a point behind Chelsea, who are top, and behind City only on goal difference.