Arsenal stayed top of the league on goal difference and ahead of the chasing pack of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
Arsenal came back from behind to defeat Bristol, a side that recently lost to Chelsea by 9-0 and 11-1 to Arsenal last season, with six goals and four assists from Vivianne Miedema.
There was no repeat this season with Arsenal perhaps suffering from an FA Cup semi-final hangover.
Joe Montemurro reverted to the back three that was very successful last season and it made sense considering Bristol were playing a deep 5-4-1 system for most of the game. With Leah Williamson alternating between centre-back and defensive midfielder during different phases of the game, the two outside centre-backs could act as wing-backs.
Montemurro went with Manuela Zinsberger; Vicky Schnaderbeck, Jennifer Beattie, Katie McCabe; Danielle van de Donk, Lia Walti, Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs; Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Caitlin Foord.
It is now clear that the coaching staff has limited trust in Leonie Maier. Six games into the season, two appearances as a sub for a total of 29 minutes. Even with five players on the injury list and the need to rotate players due to game congestion, she did not get a start or even a minute as a sub.
Arsenal started the game well and then conceded a disappointing goal. Williamson lost the ball in midfield while bringing it out and it was sent through to Harrison who hit it from 25 yards towards the bottom corner.
Zinsberger did not manage to get a touch on it, despite the relative lack of pace in the shot.
The equaliser took time to arrive as the game moved into an attack versus defence style as soon as Bristol opened the scoring. To their credit, Bristol were well organised in comparison to last season and certainly made Arsenal work hard to create chances.
Jordan Nobbs got her third goal in three games from an excellent McCabe cross after she had found space on the left wing. It was a powerful and well placed finished from the playmaker.
Nobbs is certainly key to Arsenal at the moment with so many attacking players injured and she is certainly stepping up when people need to be counted. Her midfield partner, Lia Walti, was also in top form keeping the Arsenal passing game flowing.
Catlin Foord added a second goal a couple of minutes into the second half to settle the team and Arsenal in control. The Australian forward’s integration into the team’s style since her arrival in February has gone well and she is a valuable alternative in any of the three positions up front.
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Vivanne Miedema added a third goal late in the game.
Arsenal were very much in control for 90 minutes as despite going 1-0 down, the players did not panic and carried on with the game plan.
There is no doubt that there will be tougher games coming our way and getting three points was required. The biggest worry at the moment is the growing injury list, particularly in the attacking positions.
Out of 22 players, we have currently five injuries.
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams, defender Stephanie Catley, midfielders Jill Roord and Kim Little and forward Lisa Evans. With the games coming thick and fast, there are not many options in attack and the bench has been composed of defensive minded players only twice already.
Malin Gut, Leonie Maier, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Ruby Mace have all been used as subs only with their game time ranging from two minutes to 63. You would think at some point they will get used a little bit more, because only using 15 players as starters will probably end up in more injuries as seen over the last two seasons.
We know the coaching staff are managing loads and not taking risks by not bringing players back too early while also trying to get the team to perform well in every game.
But there is still a question mark on the team and the players’ capacity to raise their level in the big games as seen against PSG and Manchester City so far.
We will have a good idea on Wednesday when we will play Chelsea away in the Continental Cup group stage if that’s still the case.