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Liverpool FC Women 0, Arsenal 2: Reds Fail To Shoot Their Shot Against The Gunners

Despite a record crowd on hand at Prenton Park, Liverpool never really posed much of a threat going forward against Arsenal.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Barclays Women’s Super League Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images

Liverpool 0 - 2 Arsenal

Liverpool:
Arsenal: Miedema 60’, Foord 69’

Pre-Match

Liverpool face a tough task as they look to rebound from a embarrassing loss to Manchester City as the Reds now welcome an Arsenal side looking to keep pace in the title race. Liverpool beat the Gunners 1-0 in the opening fixture of the season thanks to a late goal from Miri Taylor.

Matt Beard elects to make a swath of surprising changes to the starting lineup. Rachael Laws is back in net after a dismal performance from Teagan Micah last weekend. Taylor Hinds misses out through injury as Niamh Fahey and Jasmine Matthews make their first starts in quite some time. Sophie Lundgaard gets a run out in midfield while the entire starting line is swapped out.

First Half

Liverpool look to be playing a 4-3-3 to start. Yana Daniels is playing as a very defensive-minded right forward with Grace Fisk and Jasmine Matthews as the fullbacks. That’s essentially four center backs across Liverpool’s back four.

With the speed of Shanice van de Sanden up top, Liverpool seem to be looking to press high and create quick counters, or to drop deeper if they get bypassed and launch counters from deep. This has led to Arsenal seeing much more of the ball to start the match.

Rachael Laws goes down after a ball is cleared away in the 10th minute. She’s holding her left knee as the training staff come out to check on her. After a brief examination she’s back on her feet and able to continue.

Arsenal cause Liverpool all sorts of trouble from a corner kick. The Reds struggle to clear the ball and Arsenal put it back in to the far post. Rachael Laws and Grace Fisk do just enough to put off Alessia Russo.

Melissa Lawley is the first player to go into the book, and it’s for a very silly foul. The ball goes out of play for an Arsenal throw right in front of their bench and Lawley grabs the arm of the player getting ready to throw the ball in to stop the Gunners from getting a quick restart.

Rachael Laws is forced to come over to the near post to turn a cross behind as it floats in towards the goal. The replay shows the Arsenal attacker was definitely offside in the buildup, but the linesman missed it. Thankfully Liverpool do a much better job of handling this corner kick.

Fuka Nagano is popping up everywhere right now in Liverpool’s defensive half to thwart Arsenal. The Japanese international is breaking up play, intercepting passes, and making clearing headers at an impressive rate.

Liverpool get a rare foray forward as Sophie Lundgaard sneaks a pass down the line to Shanice van de Sanden. The Dutch forward shows good strength to hold off her defender before driving to the end line. The ball is knocked out for a Liverpool throw in, but the resulting play sees the Reds lose possession quickly.

Liverpool finally show some life in the attack as they earn a free kick just inside the Arsenal half. Jasmine Matthews sends in a flat delivery that is smartly flicked to the left side of the post by Gemma Bonner. There are two Liverpool players there to attack the ball, but it is just blocked out by a defender. The Reds put the ball back into the box but it is cleared away just ahead of Shanice van de Sanden.

After another spell of Arsenal possession, Liverpool again break forward on the counter. Fuka Nagano battles hard to poke the ball to Shanice van de Sanden, who immediately spies the run of Melissa Lawley on the left. The ball is released for Lawley to run on to, and she outpaces a defender just enough to get a low cross in for Yana Daniels in the box. Daniels is able to get a touch on the ball while under pressure, but she can only redirect it over the goal.

Arsenal almost score immediately after the Liverpool chance, with a scramble in front of goal almost resulting in an own goal. The Reds manage to clear the ball out of play and the referee blows the whistle for half time.

Second Half

No changes to start the second half. Matt Beard has plenty of firepower on the bench should he want to open things up a bit and go after a match winner.

Liverpool showing a little more consistency going forward to start the second half, but it’s still on a fairly infrequent basis. Much like the first half, Arsenal are seeing much more of the ball as Liverpool sit in and make it difficult with their solid defensive shape.

Yana Daniels is the second player to go in the book. Ten minutes into the second half she is shown a yellow for pulling an Arsenal player back to slow down a counter attack. Honestly not a bad one to take there.

Matt Beard goes to his bench as the clock ticks close to 60 minutes. Sophie Roman Haug comes on for Yana Daniels.

Goal Arsenal. Immediately after the substitution, Arsenal get the ball forward to Vivienne Miedema. She takes a couple of touches towards the top of the box before unleashing a vicious strike. The ball swerves on the way in and eludes the leaping Rachael Laws as it zings just under the crossbar.

Goal Arsenal. Just ten minutes later, the Gunners just waltz through the Liverpool midfield and defense. Emily Fox plays a simple through ball for Alessia Russo on the right, and the Arsenal forward collects the ball on the run before playing a simple square ball that is tucked home by Caitlin Foord.

Matt Beard had four players already up and ready to come into the match, so they enter just after the goal. Marie Höbinger, Mia Enderby, Jenna Clark and Emma Koivisto all come on. They replace Sophie Lundgaard, Shanice van de Sanden, Grace Fisk, and Melissa Lawley.

Katie McCabe gets a yellow card for taking a comically long time to walk off the pitch as she is also substituted.

In more positive news, the announced attendance of 6,085 is a new record at Prenton Park. Just a shame Liverpool haven’t put on more of a showing for the big crowd.

Yikes. Arsenal are just shredding through Liverpool now. Alessia Russo is through on goal but Gemma Bonner is able to come across and apply a shoulder to shoulder challenge to throw the striker off before she can put the ball in the net.

Rachael Laws has had a couple of good moments in the waning moments of the match. She did well to come out and get big to force Beth Mead to put a 1v1 chance over the goal. A few minutes later she does well to deny Stina Blackstenius.

Laws does it again, sliding out to get a hand to the ball and push it out of the path of Blackstenius as she charged in on goal. It will be interesting to see what Matt Beard does going forward with the starting goalkeeper role.

Liverpool look to find some sort of attack as the game ticks over into six minutes of extra time. Mia Enderby charges down the right flank with the ball, doing well to keep hold of the ball under duress. She earns a throw in deep in the Arsenal half, and the ball falling to Ceri Holland in the box. It’s a half chance really, but Holland does her best to get something on it, but the shot is charged down and blocked.

Chance for Liverpool! It’s again Enderby showing great energy to run down a flicked header by Sophie Roman Haug. Enderby flies down the field and into the box, but her shot can’t beat the sliding Manuela Zinsberger. That was Liverpool’s first shot on target for the day.

Arsenal again fly through the Liverpool lines with some inch-perfect passing and smart runs. The ball is played into the run of Stina Blackstenius with only the goalkeeper to beat, but she puts her shot off the base of the post and out.

That’s the last action as the referee blows for full time.

Final Thoughts

For the first time this season, Liverpool have lost back to back matches in the WSL. Matt Beard set his side up more defensively than last week, and the Reds did well to limit chances for two-thirds of the match. A fantastic strike by Vivienne Miedema forced Liverpool out of their shell to chase the game, and the Reds just couldn’t put anything together going forward.

Liverpool will be back in action next Sunday as they host Spurs. The sides are tied on points with 18, and each will be looking to try and catch Manchester United, who sit 3 points ahead. It seems a bridge to far now to challenge for a European spot as Manchester City and Arsenal are a good 10 points clear for second and third in the table.

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