Injury hit Arsenal eased to victory over North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Meadow Park to return to the top of the Barclays F.A. Women’s Super League.
Arsenal’s injury problems were emphasised by them only being able to name three outfield players on the bench – two of whom were just seventeen years-old. Despite this, they swept aside a Spurs side who were all at sea in defence and toothless up front with Alex Morgan still to make her debut.
The Gunners swamped their North London rivals from the very start. It only took them four minutes to take the lead. Katie McCabe’s stunner of a free kick rebounded into the top corner off of the left hand post with Spurs keeper Rebecca Spencer beaten all ends up.
Seconds later, the home side almost doubled their lead when Ria Percival tripped Danielle van der Donk. McCabe’s free kick from a central position about ten yards outside of the ‘D’ was pushed out for a corner by Spencer with the Spurs wall looking less than firm.
With just seven minutes played Arsenal did go 2-0 up with Vivianne Miedema played in down her left and fired past Spencer from an acute angle. The Dutch star became the FAWSL’s all-time leading goal scorer as a result – her fiftieth goal in fifty Super League games.
Spurs rallied briefly and finally got on the front foot as Rianna Dean fashioned an opportunity by hitting a shot from outside the box which Manuela Zinsberger tipped over for a corner.
Arsenal’s ruthless start ensured Spurs paid the price for not taking that chance with a third goal flying in after just fifteen minutes. Leah Williamson played a long ball over the Tottenham defence right into the stride of Caitlin Foord. The Australian international held off Anna Filbey with ease to slot home her fourth goal in five games.
Just after the half-hour mark, Beth Mead initiated a dangerous attack down the Arsenal right and cut inside but Kerys Harrop cleared the danger for a corner.
It only took a further four minutes for Miedema to get her second and Arsenal’s fourth of the afternoon when she beat Alanna Kennedy’s attempted challenge to get on the end of another free-kick. It was all too easy, and Spurs were forced to make a double substitution after just thirty-eight minutes in a bid to stem the flood of goals. It did not work.
Caitlin Foord had another chance for her own second goal, but Spencer pushed the Shellharbour born star’s effort wide.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Vivianne Miedema completed her hat-trick. The Dutch superstar laid the ball off to Caitlin Foord. The Australian returned the compliment for Miedema to tap home the fifth goal.
The second half opened with Spurs being given an opportunity to reduce the gap. Zinsberger failed to deal with the ball in and Lucia Marte Leon went down with little or no pressure applied to her. Referee Abigail Byrne pointed to the spot. Rianna Dean stepped up to take the kick but Manuela Zinsberger produced an excellent save to maintain Arsenal’s five goal advantage.
Dean tried to make amends four minutes later when she threaded the ball through to Rosana Ayane on their right. Her effort from an acute angle flew over the bar.
Arsenal replied immediately when Anna Filbey lost possession. Caitlin Foord ran through and her shot needed Rebecca Spencer to make the save.
Foord got the second goal her performance deserved on sixty-four minutes when she finished a great move. Vivianne Miedema popped up down the right and found Beth Mead. The Lionesses star laid a ball across the box to the Australian whose shot came off Spurs’ Ashleigh Neville and wrong footed Rebecca Spencer for 6-0.
Spurs did have one positive to take from the afternoon when Leon powered a header past Zinsberger from Siri Worm’s corner – the first goal Tottenham had ever scored in a competitive game against their North London rivals.
With eight minutes to go, Spurs earned another corner. Worm’s ball in was met by the head of Alanna Kennedy but she couldn’t generate sufficient power to stretch Zinsberger. Four minutes later, the Australian got up high again but put her header wide before leaving the pitch again with a knock.
As the game entered stoppage time, Arsenal brought on 17-year-old Anouk Denton for her FAWSL debut – another example of the quality that the Gunners’ youth set up has – to end a positive afternoon for the club.
This was another comfortable win for Arsenal, sending them to the top of the Barclays F.A. Women’s Super League and with no European football to add to their load this season, Joe Montemurro’s side look well placed to set the pace among the top sides as the campaign develops.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Schnaderbeck, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe, Walti, Gut, van der Donk, Mead, Miedema, Foord.
Substitutes: Williams (GK), Wubben-Moy (used), Mace (used), Denton (used).
Scorers: McCabe 4. Miedema 7, 36, 40. Foord 15, 64.
Tottenham Hotspur: Spencer, Neville, Filbey, Zadorsky, Harrop, Percival, Quinn, Kennedy, Davison, Dean, Addison.
Substitutes: Whitehouse (GK), Leon (used), Green, Williams, Worm (used), Ayane (used), Sulola (used).
Scorer: Leon 77.
Referee: Abigail Byrne.