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Manchester United Women 1-0 Arsenal: Gunners fail big game test again

Arsenal Women are no longer top of the league after falling to Manchester United.

Manchester United v Arsenal - FA Women’s Super League - Leigh Sports Village Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Arsenal Women have lost their unbeaten record in the league, losing 1-0 away to Manchester United. With the loss, Arsenal drop into second place, a point off of Manchester United. Arsenal were second best for most of the 90 minutes, but in a game of few chances, the match was heading for a draw. Late in the second half, though, Jess Sigsworth picked up a loose ball, ran at Viki Schnaderbeck, and then picked out Ella Toone at the top of the box. Toone’s shot beat Manuela Zinsberger at the far post, hitting the inside of the post.

Arsenal never really got going in the match. Like other losses, they were susceptible to Manchester United’s sustained pressure, and were unable to play out through midfield. It improved somewhat when Kim Little and Jill Roord came into the game, but Arsenal were then hit by a sucker-punch, and never recovered.

Arsenal have kept one clean sheet in the league this season, and had Zinsberger to thank for keeping United out until the second half, with the Austrian making several saves, including a one v one with Christen Press. This speaks to a larger issue that Arsenal have in big games. Without some of their first choice defenders, the team isn’t defensively strong enough to keep strong opponents out for 90 minutes.

Yet, conversely, in big games, Arsenal’s approach has been found wanting. Arsenal barely made Mary Earps work in goal—a trend from recent losses, such as the Champions League defeat to PSG, and the FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City. In all those games, Arsenal’s progression into midfield was severely affected by opponents pressure. Today, Arsenal gave up possession numerous times through poor, underhit passes. And while the wet pitch was a possible factor, Arsenal were also physically overmatched. When Arsenal were able to get into attacking situations, by playing forward early, United’s defence looked vulnerable; but Arsenal were unable to do it enough. With Chelsea in the league next week, Joe Montemurro will need to quickly figure out a solution to a problem that is rather long-standing.

Arsenal: Zinsberger; Wubben-Moy (Maier 78’), Williamson, Schnaderbeck (Mace 90’), McCabe; Wälti, Gut (Roord 60’), Van de Donk (Little 60’); Mead, Miedema, Foord
Substitutes not used: Williams, Stenson, Pearse, Garrard