Home Team: Miedema 28’
Arsenal is tough. They’re talented, with players like Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema, and they’re the reigning champions for a reason. Arsenal is clearly a club that knows the power of their women’s team and have been investing in it in a while. Honestly, even with the win against Blackburn earlier in the week, confidence isn’t very high on this end.
Liverpool start strong, pressing high and getting into Arsenal’s half early on, with Rinsola Babajide (with her second start this week!) turning and attempting to find Robe. The maneuver is dealt with easily by Arsenal’s defense, unfortunately, and the fight begins in earnest.
The Reds had to be on their very best defensively against this team, with talented attackers like Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema able to cause some real problems combined with midfielders Kim Little and Danielle Van de Donk. Emma McCabe for the home side nearly played in Miedema early but thankfully our captain Sophie Bradley-Auckland was able to clear the danger. Liverpool very nearly go up early on, as Becky Jane delivers a gorgeous free kick just before ten minutes have past, and Bradley-Auckland getting on top of it, but Arsenal’s keeper makes a spectacular save to send the ball into the post as opposed to the corner it was heading for.
With that encouragement, the fight would continue into the first half, with Liverpool working hard to make it difficult for Arsenal to find the right gear. Hard as they worked, Arsenal still found a way to score, with Miedema bursting into the box and firing into the low corner, with Preuss unable to save it in time. This was all Arsenal needed to change gears and really push through, but the Reds were able to hold them off through the end of the half.
Fighting back is not a task the Reds are unused to and so again they find themselves a goal down in the second half. Arsenal are feeling more comfortable now, as an early cross from Mead sails towards goal but thankfully right into Anke Preuss’ arms instead. They waste no time in trying to find a second, with Miedema leading the charge. Even the defender Leah Williamson tries her hand at scoring, sending a rocket that shakes the crossbar barely ten minutes after the return.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are being dealt with swiftly and efficiently, as they’re unable to find the same foothold they had in the first half. Vicky Jepson swaps out Rinsola Babajide for Ashley Hodson around the 63rd minute, but unfortunately it doesn’t make much of a difference. Arsenal continue to poke through the defenses, with Miedema once again making a run to the box, that Bradley-Auckland is able to stop from doubling the lead.
Melissa Lawley has the best chance of the second half four minutes from full time, finding herself with space in the Arsenal half. She tries a shot from distance and it just goes over, which is a pretty fitting end to the match for Liverpool. Even with three minutes of added time, Liverpool are unable to find their first win of the season.
Well, at least they kept it to 1-0 as opposed to 5-0, which it easily could’ve been with this team. Arsenal are just one of the examples, though, of how the league has moved on without Liverpool and it’s tough to see in practice. The skills are there, there just needs to be something else to push them over the line. Can’t imagine what it is.