Arsenal defeated Liverpool 1-0 to keep pace with Chelsea and Manchester City who hammered Birmingham 6-0 and Bristol 5-0, respectively, away from home.
For this must-win game, and the third in a week, Joe Montemurro selected the expected starting 11, except for one position with Jill Roord instead of Lia Wälti. It was a classic 4-3-3 with Zinsberger; Evans, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe; Little, Roord, Nobbs; Mead, Miedema, van de Donk.
Liverpool mixed it up with a semi-high press combined with deep defending from time-to-time. They did not parking the bus at all, something you expected from the side at the bottom of the table.
They nearly scored when Sophie Bradley hit the post from a set piece and she threatened a few times throughout the game.
Arsenal were in control for most of it, however, and scored from a counter-attack when Roord superbly sent Vivianne Miedema through and she rifled a low shot past Anke Preuss.
Overall, it was not the best Arsenal performance, but the three points are in the bag and that’s all you want when you are not as fluent as usual. It looks like the three-games-in-a-week schedule took its toll. Some players seemed tired and not as sharp as usual and with our game based on ball possession and build-up play, that ended up restricting play.
It was interesting to note that we created good chances on the break and from turnovers, when Liverpool were higher up the pitch, while we struggled a bit more when they defended deep.
Overall, it was a solid performance on the back of two wins in our previous games. There is a now a full week’s training to recover and prepare for the next league game against Bristol, who we recently beat in the Conti Cup.
In terms of the league table, the Gunners still trail Chelsea by a point and are level with City, albeit with an inferior goal difference. Surprise package Everton are only three points behind us with United six points behind.
At the foot of the table, it is ‘as you were’ with the bottom three teams losing against the top three teams. Liverpool ended with a positive result in terms of goal difference as the other sides around them got battered, but they are still rooted in last place in the table.
Their manager Vicky Jepson was positive that they would not be relegated though: “I’ve got no worry whatsoever and neither have the players,” she said after the match. “It’s too early to talk about the table. We’ve got a tough run now, but we’ll be OK this season because we’ve got too much quality.”
Liverpool have one point so far, two points behind Birmingham who have a game in hand and also two points behind Bristol. Brighton have given themselves some breathing space as they are four points clear of the reds, while West Ham are five points clear.
The next round of games will see Chelsea away to Everton, City at home to Liverpool and we will be at home to Bristol.
We can hope that one of the top two teams slip up and let us into the Champions League places.