Arsenal defeated Aston Villa 4-0 away on a difficult pitch against a very defensive side held out for an hour meaning Arsenal are now six points behind Manchester United with a game in hand.

WALSALL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: Lisa Evans and Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal chat with Mana Iwabuchi of Aston Villa after the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Aston Villa Women and Arsenal Women at Banks's Stadium on February 28, 2021 in Walsall, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
WALSALL, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 28: Lisa Evans and Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal chat with Mana Iwabuchi of Aston Villa after the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Aston Villa Women and Arsenal Women at Banks’s Stadium on February 28, 2021 in Walsall, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

For this key game, Joe Montemurro played the expected starting 11 with van de Donk in the number 10 spot and Nobbs on the right wing. The team was Williams; Maritz, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe; Walti, Roord, van de Donk; Nobbs, Miedema, Mead.

The game was basically a cat and mouse affair between attack and defence.

BBC stats have Arsenal with 78% ball possession, 30 shots to five and 14 to nil on target.

Aston Villa lined up on the teamsheet as a 5-3-2 but actually defended in variation of a 9-1 system alternating a back five or a back four depending on the position of the ball on the pitch.

That’s why it took sixty minutes for the Gunners to find an opening. Aston Villa were very resilient at the back, trying to close down space in the central area for the Arsenal midfielders and forwards.

With space congested in the middle, Arsenal had to turn to the wings to find room. Katie McCabe from left-back was instrumental in bringing attack with her pace, clever movement and crossing.

On the other wing, Noelle Maritz did not bring as much attacking play as the Irish defender/forward.  She is obviously an excellent defender and has put in superb performances this season and deservedly starts games. Nevertheless, in those one sided games, I think having Lisa Evans at right-back would be a plus in terms of attacking ability.

In the middle, the central area was so congested that Jill Roord and Danielle van de Donk struggled to find space between the lines. These are games where Kim Little’s composure in small paces is greatly missed as her ability to hold the ball and link play is really special.

The front three tried to link up with the other players, and they did provide the opening with an excellent cross from Beth Mead and a finish from close range from Vivianne Miedema.

Once the deadlock was broken, Villa’s heads went down and Arsenal free flowing play brought more goals.

The second Arsenal goal came from a transition after Beth Mead stealing the ball on the half-way line from the young Villa defender Freya Gregory.

The ball was transferred to the left-wing for a Miedema shot that was well saved and pushed in by captain Jordan Nobbs.

The third goal was a rocket from McCabe after one touch play. It was a goal her performance deserved.

And the last goal was a superb team goal from a long passing sequence to keep the ball and a cross from Katie McCabe to Lisa Evans with a delightful header.

Overall, a satisfactory performance with three points, four goals and a clean sheet.

Joe  Montemurro also made five subs allowing players, who had not got much playing time to get a few minutes on the pitch.

Up next is Birmingham City away to be played either at Solihull Moors or somewhere depending on what the FA will decide.

Arsenal will need to get the three points prior to the Champions League decider against Manchester United on March the 18.