Arsenal ended a tough week with a dominant 4-0 win over 10-player Leicester City, sending the Gunners 4 points clear at the top of WSL. Leicester, under new management, were obliging visitors, playing an incredibly high defensive line against Arsenal.
Jonas Eidevall made several changes, with Lydia Williams replacing Zinsberger in goal, and Nikita Parris, Jordan Nobbs, Mana Iwabuchi, and Anna Patten all coming into the starting lineup.
Leicester played a quite high line, but it did take Arsenal some time to get to grips with it, with Arsenal’s attacking players repeatedly caught offside. Arsenal, though, finally got to grips with Leicester’s high line, and their wide players, especially Nikita Parris, started being found. First, Parris was played in, and with the Leicester keeper, Demi Lambourne advancing, Parris tried to chip Lambourne for the on-rushing Beth Mead, only for the ball to just miss her.
Arsenal, though, would soon take the lead. Another fantastic long ball to the right hand side, this time from Lia Wälti, found Miedema, who cutback for Jordan Nobbs. Nobbs’ shot went through the legs of Ashleigh Plumptre, unsighting Lambourne, who saw the shot go through her to make it 1-0 Arsenal.
Twelve minutes later it was two. A fantastic cross-field ball from Iwabuchi found Parris who broke Leicester’s high line, and then laid the ball across the box for Miedema to slam home.
Nobbs had the ball in the net again, but her goal was disallowed for offside, with Nobbs breaking just a fraction early to meet Wälti’s long ball. Leicester would then go down to ten. Parris, played in by another long ball over the top, was bundled over by Jemma Purfield, and with Parris through on the goalkeeper, it was an easy decision for the referee, Emily Heaslip, to produce a red card for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
Arsenal created a number of chances to get a third goal: Miedema was denied by the goalkeeper, by a good block, and just frankly missed. On another day, Arsenal would’ve run the score up well before they got their third goal, which was put away by Frida Maanum. Catley was found by Iwabuchi, and then played to Little, who found Nobbs on the right of the penalty box. Nobbs’ cross was accurate, and was met by the substitute.
Maanum made it a quick double. Wälti’s excellent pass exploited the once again high Leicester line, and Catley, running onto the ball, played an excellent cross that Maanum, running from deep, met and placed her header beyond Lambourne to make it four. Parris, who was excellent all game, had a chance to make it five on the stroke of full time as she rounded Lambourne, but having been taken wide of the goal, she was off-balance and ended up horribly shanking her shot with her weaker foot.
Arsenal, though, can look ahead to the next week and begin to the put the trauma of last week behind them. The Gunners need to only avoid losing by five or more goals against Hoffenheim on Wednesday to qualify for the next round of the Champions League, before facing Brighton at home in a week’s time before the Christmas break.
Arsenal: Williams; Patten, Boye (Schnaderbeck 60’), Wubben-Moy (Goldie 86’), McCabe (Catley 60’); Wälti, Nobbs; Parris, Iwabuchi, Mead (Little 60’); Miedema (Maanum 72’)
Substitutes not used: Zinsberger (GK), Stenson (GK), Beattie, Foord
Goals: Nobbs 22’, Miedema 34’, Maanum 81’, 83’