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Arsenal Women 1-0 Everton: Three talking points

Arsenal beat Everton to maintain pace with Chelsea and Manchester United

Arsenal v Everton FC - Barclays Women’s Super League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal as Arsenal beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday in the WSL. Arsenal welcomed back Leah Williamson as a second-half substitute, and kept pace in the WSL, with the Gunners 3 points behind leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand, and level with Manchester United, but behind on goal difference.

Miedema back

Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal, and could’ve easily had a second, as she had two shots cleared off the line in the second half. Miedema’s goal, though, was vintage: from a difficult angle, she worked the ball into shooting position and then hit it hard enough to sail beyond Emily Ramsey in Everton’s goal. With Beth Mead out for the rest of the season, Miedema has scored both of Arsenal’s goals in matches since, having gone six games without scoring in all competitions. Not only has Miedema scored, but Saturday was her highest xG of the season; during her scoring drought, which included four games as a substitute, she wasn’t getting into good scoring positions.

Wasteful Gunners

Arsenal had 33 shots yesterday—and one goal to show for it. The Gunners had an xG of 3.1, per OPTA, but couldn’t get a second goal, meaning they were vulnerable late on as Everton launched crosses into the box and won set pieces. Indeed, Everton nearly had a golden chance after some pinball, but Steph Catley blocked Nicoline Sorensen’s 90th minute shot. Much like Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Juventus, Stina Blackstenius and Caitlin Foord, who did good work on the left side, had good chances; Foord had her shot saved by the impressive Ramsey, and Blackstenius had one excellent chance saved and the other missed. Arsenal have three games before the possibility of reinforcements in January, and the rest of the forward line will need to contribute. They’re getting into good positions which is the biggest part, but they need to finish.

Wälti/Maanum switch

Tim Stillman has written an excellent piece on Arsenal’s right-side relationships being rebuilt in real time with the absence of Kim Little and Beth Mead. In the first half, Lia Wälti was on the right hand side of Arsenal’s midfield pivot, with Frida Maanum on the left hand side. Usually, Wälti is on the left. They switched in the second half, and Arsenal’s attack had a much more left sided focus in the second half, with Miedema pulling to the left, Catley overlapping and Foord stretching play wide. This is also in part because of Katie McCabe coming infield from the right; there isn’t anyone to make runs in behind on the right, though Blackstenius started peeling to that side. Laura Wienroither is a more direct full back than Noëlle Maritz, who is more of a facilitator, so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. But of further interest is the role Frida Maanum takes; in possession, Maanum could be more direct and make runs beyond, especially as McCabe, an accomplished passer, comes infield. Wälti made 8 passes to McCabe, compared to 3 passes to Maanum.

Arsenal (4231): Zinsberger; Wienroither (Maritz 69’), Wubben-Moy, Beattie (Williamson 69’), Catley; Maanum, Wälti; McCabe, Miedema, Foord; Blackstenius (Nobbs 77’)
Substitutes not used: Marckese (GK), Rafaelle, Iwabuchi, Agyemang

Goal: Miedema 24’