Arsenal won a very important away game 3-0 at Reading on Sunday, keeping the Gunners close to City in the title race.
There was also good news in the race for a Champions League place as Birmingham won away to Chelsea, meaning Arsenal are now five points clear of third.
The team is clearly cursed with injuries as another two players were unable to play on Sunday while the manager was struck with the flu. Assistant manager Aaron D’Antino took charge of the team on the day.
The current injury list is as follows: Jessica Samuelsson, Tabea Kemme, Victoria Schnaderbeck, Jordan Nobbs, Lia Waelti, Lisa Evans, Danielle Carter.
The team was set-up in an unusual 3-4-3 diamond with the following starting 11: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin; Leah Williamson, Louise Quinn, Emma Mitchell; Dominique Bloodworth, Kim Little, Katie McCabe, Ava Kuyken; Bethany Mead, Anna Miedema, Katrine Veje.
On the bench were three senior players – Sari Van Veenendaal, Janni Arnth, Danielle van de Donk, back from injury, and four Academy players – Ruby Grant, Melissa Filis, Hannah Dawbarn, and Amelia Hazard.
Anna Miedema opened the scoring in the second minute, breaking the FA WSL goalscoring record in the process. The early goal changed the whole game as it allowed the Gunners to control the game. It resulted in a dull game, according to people watching on TV, but that was not the case for those of us in the ground.
It looked like a chess battle as both sides were set-up with a diamond midfield, making the central area as congested as central London.
Arsenal did make the better use of the wide areas, however. Our wingers had plenty of time and space on the ball on the few occasions the ball was switched to the opposite wing with Mead and Veje often free.
The referee had a busy game, producing numerous bookings and blowing for many fouls due to the congestion in midfield and rough play.
Kim Little scored the second goal from the penalty spot following a foul on Danielle van de Donk in the area. Katie McCabe added a third with a rocket from 25 yards after being teed-up by youngster, Melissa Filis, who had just be sent on.
It was certainly a crucial win as the title race is close. It also gives the Gunners a huge five-point cushion over Chelsea and Birmingham in the race for a Champions League place.
Things are heating up 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DX23zx69lp
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) January 27, 2019
The club still has a game in hand over Man City, Chelsea and Birmingham and will need to make the most of it. The title race might actually go the final day when Arsenal will be at home to Manchester City. Any points cushion would be welcome ahead of that game.
The next two games will be cup ties against fourth-tier team Crawley Wasps before the big one as Arsenal will welcome second tier, but professional, Manchester United.
Their fans have already started the mind games by saying that Olympique Lyonnais, the triple Champions League holders, are the only team in Europe competing at their level.
It will be an interesting game, although it is a shame that it will be played midweek on a cold evening as many fans are put off by that kind of weather.