Arsenal Women came from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-1. After going down to a seventh-minute Kirsty Hanson goal, Arsenal responded: an own goal brought the Gunners level, before Vivianne Miedema put Arsenal ahead. Second half goals from Katie McCabe and Jordan Nobbs sealed the win, meaning Arsenal will enter the WSL break level on points with Chelsea—who they face when the WSL resumes. Here are three talking points.
Winger switch works
Arsenal started the game with Katie McCabe and Caitlin Foord on their “natural” side, rather than having the right footed Foord on the left and the left footed McCabe on the right. The idea was for Arsenal to stretch Aston Villa and look for cutbacks behind. After falling 1-0 behind, though, it didn’t really work, and midway through the first half, Foord and McCabe switched. That paid immediate dividends: Foord combined with Miedema, McCabe was played in, and the cross ended in an own goal. McCabe’s own goal came with a familiar move: Catley’s cutback falling to McCabe who could slot. But those moves weren’t happening, but once familiar partnerships came back, Arsenal were able to get behind with regularity.
Arsenal get bench help
Arsenal did two things today that they haven’t done in five games: score multiple goals, and have scorers other than Vivianne Miedema. It was also the first match since Halloween since Arsenal had a substitute score. Like then, it was Jordan Nobbs who got the goal, though the circumstances were different: in October, Nobbs equalized off the bench as a replacement for Kim Little, while today, Nobbs added gloss to the finish. Indeed, Nobbs is the only Arsenal substitute to score this season. In some ways, that is to be expected: Arsenal have not had much depth in recent weeks, especially in attacking positions, as injury has depleted the squad. Yet, that is also something of a concern. Fresh legs is how matches can be won, but also how more goals can be scored, improving goal difference. As it stands, Arsenal are below Chelsea on goal difference, and one thing Chelsea do very well is get goals from the bench.
Gunners keep Daly quiet
Arsenal limited Rachel Daly to one shot, her joint fewest of the season. For the first time since the second weekend of the season, Daly had one shot (and then she had a penalty). One thing Arsenal were able to successfully do was limit Villa’s crosses—Villa played 9 crosses, their fewest of the season. Arsenal were alert to the danger in wide positions, which you can even see on the goal Arsenal conceded: Kirsty Hanson shoots from an angle because Arsenal have cut off her crossing options, and it is essentially a position Arsenal were happy to be in defensively.
Arsenal (4231): Zinsberger; Maritz (Wienroither 71’), Wubben-Moy, Rafaelle (Williamson 60’), Catley; Maanum, Wälti; McCabe, Miedema (Nobbs 72’), Foord (Iwabuchi 86’); Blackstenius
Goals: Hanson 6’; Corsie (OG) 26’, Miedema 30’, McCabe 62’, Nobbs 84’