Arsenal Women jumped top of the WSL and kept up their 100-per-cent record, seeing off another title rival in the process with a 5-0 thrashing of Man City.
Vivianne Miedema took advantage of Alanna Kennedy’s mistake to fire the Gunners ahead at Meadow Park with 10 minutes on the clock, which set the tone for a dominant performance that laid down a marker for the hosts’ title hopes.
Having beaten last season’s winners Chelsea on the opening day and then putting four past Reading without reply, Arsenal went on to add a third impressive performance, and victory, to their account, and Kim Little doubled their lead inside half an hour with a powerful drive that Karima Benameur could only palm into the top corner.
Katie McCabe, better known for her assists than her goals, added a spectacular third after half-time, firing high past Benameur to seal a wonderful victory for Jonas Eidevall’s team, who then showcased their dominating performance through a Little penalty late on, and Leah Williamson’s injury-time headed fifth.
Dominant Arsenal thrash City to go top
The new Arsenal era had enjoyed a promising start but having seen off Chelsea already, Manchester City provided another stiff test for Eidevall in his third league game in charge.
Without the commanding presence and leadership of England captain Steph Houghton, City struggled to cope with the hosts’ pressing game from kick-off, but the sheer intensity of the Gunners’ play was difficult for any opposition to endure.
Kennedy’s error for the opening goal was wretched but still came as a result of the Gunners’ harrying. Her underhit backpass to Benameur was latched onto by Mead, who squared for the Dutch international to fire into an unguarded net from the edge of the area.
City’s task was difficult enough with 11 players on the pitch, and they were down to 10 due to Mead’s injury when Arsenal struck again. Miedema flicked the ball into her path before she skipped past two blue shirts and found the top corner to stun the visitors again.
There was little sign of a fightback from the Citizens until the second period, with Filippa Angeldahl and Alex Greenwood denied by Manuela Zinsberger early into the half.
Normal service would resume on the hour, as McCabe finished the game as a contest. Lia Walti’s hopeful ball forward found the visiting defence at sixes and sevens and allowed the winger to blast past a static Benameur and settle any Arsenal nerves.
“We’ve said how good they are playing through the thirds but they can be direct,” said former England international Sue Smith on Sky Sports.
There appeared little Arsenal could not do. Substitute Nikita Parris was a whisker away from goal with her first touch after getting onto the end of a corner, while Miedema came close from a tight angle with Mead well-placed.
Little would double her tally for the night 12 minutes from time, firing home from as many yards after being taken out in the box by Greenwood.
That was still not enough for Eidevall’s rampant side, who added a fifth in added time when Williamson powered a header past Benameur to round off a perfect evening.
What the managers said…
Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall: “5-0 is maybe a little too big a result for the game. It was a game between two good teams, we won very deservedly, but City also had chances.
“We’re working really hard to make it as hard as possible for them to score, and we had a lot of positives for our attacking play, it was a fun game to watch both as a coach and as a fan.”
Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor: “We started well, dominated in the first 20 minutes and gave away a poor mistake for the first goal, the second was strange in terms of the referee, where they dropped the drop ball, but we need to be more switched on.
“Then they affected us, it affected our flow and play. In the second half we battled back, we had a potential penalty, we didn’t get it and they went straight down the other end and scored. We’re in a difficult moment, but we’ll keep fighting.”
Stoney: I didn’t see it coming
Former Manchester United manager Casey Stoney told Sky Sports:
“I didn’t expect that tonight. I thought Arsenal would win but I felt City would get a goal and maybe lose 3-1. I never imagined they’d concede five so it’s a surprise result in this league.
“Even at 3-0, you could see the Arsenal manager wanted City to suffer and to feel the psychological blow of a heavy defeat. They wanted them out of the title race today.”
Arsenal take on Tottenham in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday; kick-off 7.15pm. The Gunners return to WSL action at Aston Villa next Sunday at 5.15pm.
Man City are also in the last eight of the FA Cup with them hosting Leicester on Wednesday at 7pm before taking on West Ham at home in the WSL next Sunday at 2pm.