Yes, while the international break is making us all want to gouge out our eyes ahead of Liverpool’s match with Spurs next weekend, the Reds also played at home this weekend. No, not the retired ones. The Women’s team returned to action on Sunday at Prenton Park against a strong Arsenal side and well... it went about as well as the rest of our season has gone so far.
The Reds started energetically, hoping to make amends for that FA Cup defeat to Manchester City last week. Arsenal lead the league right now, and it was pretty apparent they deserve to be in that position this year. Kim Little was at her blistering best, and while she missed an early chance, made up for it quickly (20 minutes in quickly) and opened the scoring for Arsenal by just nudging her shot past Anke Preuss.
Taking advantage of the bedlam they’d caused, Arsenal spared no time in striking, and scoring, a second time shortly after through Beth Mead. Arsenal exploited a weakness in our left side to send a shot from Vivianne Miedema to the back post, with Mead ready to shoot it past Preuss and double their lead.
From there it was damage control, with Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and the rest of the Red Women trying to wrestle back domination of the match. Sweetman-Kirk had a shot denied by Pauline Peyraud-Magnine, and Jemma Purfield and Kirsty Linnett working as well to get the Reds back in it. The half would end unfortunately with two to the visitors and they were just getting started.
Arsenal’s control on the game continued well into the second half. While Liverpool made good plays into the box, Arsenal were always there to clean up and keep them from getting too close to scoring. Leighanne Robe had a great cross towards the box cleaned up again by the ‘keeper before anyone could get a touch on it, and worked with Yana Daniels shortly after to deny Arsenal’s third for the moment.
It didn’t take much longer for Arsenal find that third, with Beth Mead once again. This time Mead chipped it over Anke Preuss, making it look like a cross in from the right wing, only to go right into the corner and break some Red hearts including my own.
And then of course, two minutes later, Arsenal find the fourth of the day with Dominique Bloodworth diving to head in another delivery, only for her shot to see two deflections before going in. Not the finest moment for our Reds defense, truly, and definitely a situation where you miss Satara Murray.
A consolation came as Yana Daniels was taken down inside the Arsenal box and Liverpool were awarded a rare penalty. Thankfully our queen Courtney Sweetman-Kirk was able to convert and put one on the board for our Reds. but it would be a weak salve for the burn of the match. Especially when Miedema herself would find the back of the net at 83 minutes gone and make it five to the visitors.
Manager Vicky Jepson spoke to the club website following the match, taking stock of what was left.
“It’s not nice to be on the end of that scoreline to be honest but we knew it was going to be a mountain to climb,” Jepson said.
“Arsenal have a very good squad and we were missing a lot of players due to injury.
”Niamh Fahey wasn’t fit enough to start the game so we had to switch Amy Rodgers to centre-back. It’s not her position but to be fair to Amy she did fantastic for us and I couldn’t ask for more.
”We had to battle through the game and hopefully next week we will be back to full strength and ready to have a good go away at Manchester City.”
Liverpool face Manchester City again next weekend at their home Academy Stadium. Up our rebuilding Reds.