Arsenal produced a professional performance on Sunday with a 3-1 win against a solid Everton side at a tough ground.
A brace from Vivianne Miedema and a penalty from Kim Little against a goal from former Gunner, Chloe Kelly, wrapped up the 2019 year on a very positive note.
For this away game at Everton, the coaching staff decided to leave Jordan Nobbs on the bench and play Jill Roord instead.
Jennifer Beattie was not fit to play so Viktoria Schnaderbeck played at centre-back. The other starters were as expected.
Katrin Veje was already at home as she flew out over the weekend to Copenhagen at the same time as I was flying to Manchester.
The starting 11 was: Manuela Zinsberger; Lisa Evans, Leah Williamson, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Katie McCabe; Lia Walti, Kim Little, Jill Roord; Danielle Van De Donk, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead. Leonie Maier was the only sub used coming on for the injured Beth Mead.
The unused subs were Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Louise Quinn, Ruby Grant and Melisa Filis.
Tactically, it was the usual 4-3-3 while Everton lined-up in an unorthodox 5-2-3 system that left plenty of space on the wingd for Arsenal to attack, providing plenty of goal opportunities. When asked about that system, the Everton manager Willie Kirk said it was actually a back three. Their wing backs were pushed backwards by excellent work from the Arsenal wingers.
Arsenal found plenty of joy on the wing and opened the scoring from a delightful Kim Little cross that found an unmarked Vivianne Miedema in the penalty area. The Dutch striker, who was watched by her national team manager, Sarinna Wiegmann, alongside many of her team-mates did not miss the opportunity.
Arsenal were 1-0 up at half-time and could have scored many more as they created numerous chances.
The second goal came from a Kim Little penalty after the Scottish playmaker was fouled in the box.
She was on the wing, running parallel to the touchline, when a defender decided to foul her when there was no danger. She did not refuse the gift and scored as Korpela dived the wrong way.
2-0 and Arsenal were very comfortable at that point.
Then came the third goal and the game was done and dusted.
Leonie Maier, who had come on for the injured Beth Mead, crossed the ball and it evaded everyone except Miedema, who tapped it in for her brace and the 3-0.
Here is what he said about his role this week: It was “very positive”, that he said the club “runs a very good operation lead by Joe [Montemurro], it has seem seamless with us stepping up, it takes the full squad and the full staff to prepare. It was business as usual, we got the result in midweek” with a 9-0 against London Bees and “we had a great result today, I have nothing but praised for the players, top of the table at Christmas that’s were we wanted to be.”
The Beth Mead injury was the only sour note to the game and it is quite telling that Arsenal decided to put a defender in for a winger, instead of sending Jordan Nobbs who did her ACL on the same pitch.
The pitch looked bobbly and suspect and might have played a part in Mead’s injury along with the strong tackle from Gabby George, who was booked for the foul.
The assistant manager said, “She is ok, we will find out tomorrow [Monday], we do not know the severity of it. She will get an x-ray and we will assess it after that once we know a bit more.”
With Chelsea dropping two points with a 1-1 draw, while City hammered Brighton 5-0, Arsenal are top of the league.
The Gunners are three points ahead of City and four points ahead of Chelsea, who have a game in hand.
Arsenal will be at home to Birmingham City and away to Brighton in the new year before the BIG game on the 19th January at home to Chelsea. A game that will be crucial in the title race.
The league table clearly shows that the top three teams are way ahead of others as they have the biggest backing from their men’s team.
The mid-table teams are safe from relegation but not able to compete for a top three place. You would expect United to be there next year and become part of the big four that will fight for the three champions league places.
At the bottom of the table, there are four teams competing to avoid the single relegation place.
Birmingham are four points clear of the bottom, in theory still in the battle, but they have two games in hand and could get away for good from that zone in the future.
Brighton, Bristol and Liverpool are at the heart of the relegation battle.
One of them is likely to go down.