Arsenal moved closer to a top 2 finish in the Barclays Women Super League after a 4-0 victory over Reading, with the top four teams battling for the Champions League places.
The Gunners easily defeated Reading 4-0 at home last weekend and, combined with United slipping up away to Chelsea, it means a three-horse race is on for the runners-up place in the Barclays Women Super League.
The three horse race is on for runners-up place in the FAWSL
Chelsea beat United 1-0 thanks to a Sam Kerr goal, while City won 2-1 away to Brighton thanks to a Bunny Shaw double.
Chelsea are now top of the League with 37 points from 14 games. They are five points ahead of the Gunners with the same number of games played.
United are second with 35 points and 15 games played, while City are third with 35 points as well and 15 games played too.
Arsenal stay in fourth place with 32 points in 14 games. It means they can draw level with the two Mancunian teams when they play their game in hand against Brighton with a date tbc.
Goal difference being the tie-breaker, United are ahead with +29, Arsenal and second with +25 and City third with +18. The Gunners need to catch up those four goals in the upcoming games.
Arsenal’s starting XI and the game plan against Reading
For the Reading game, Jonas Eidevall made two changes from Wednesday’s game against Liverpool.
Stina Blackstenius and Vicky Pelova made way for Lotte Wubben-Boy and Noëlle Maritz.
Leah Williamson was moved into midfield and Frida Maanum was the lone striker instead of being in a front two alongside Stina Blackstenius.
Kim Little was pushed forward, playing as the playmaker number 10, with the double LW pivot (Williamson, Wälti). It was a slight variation of the usual 4-4-2 used with a front two (Blackstenius, Maanum).
The starting XI was Zinsberger; Wienroither, Wubben-Moy, Rafaelle, Maritz; Williamson, Wälti, Little; Foord, Maanum, McCabe.
Arsenal scored early in both halves to settle the game as well as late at the end of the first half.
Scoring in those key moments allowed the game to be under control and managed easily.
Reading did not manage to create real chances until late in the game. Arsenal were good in stopping them from going out of their defence and going through the midfield.
It forced them to play direct and the Arsenal defence swept all those balls.
Remaining games between the top 4 teams that will decide the Champions League places
One clean sheet, four goals, and many players given game time is a perfect warm-up for the Champions League quarter-finals against FC Bayern.
The club also has the luxury of nine days to prepare for the tie as mentioned by Jonas Eidevall in his post-game mixed zone: “It is a nice opportunity for us to train, we are not spoiled with those opportunities so we will try to make the most of that.
“We prepare not only for Bayern Munich but Tottenham and Manchester City and the way that we want to play our game model, we are going to work on that. Hopefully that will give us fresh legs, fresh minds to attack the Champions League quarter-final.”
Those are the remaining games between the top 4 teams that will decide the Champions League places:
- Matchday 16 Manchester City v Chelsea
- Matchday 18 Manchester United v Arsenal
- Matchday 21 Manchester United v Manchester City
- Matchday 21 Chelsea v Arsenal