It took a superb strike from Vivianne Miedema to give Arsenal a narrow win over Everton, but the scoreline made this league encounter far less comfortable than it ultimately was.
Despite completely dominating the home side in this game, with the Gunners winning their last 13 games against Everton while scoring 36 and conceding just six, a 14th victory (which would be the longest ever winning streak ever). one team to another in the WSL) was not a foregone conclusion.
Everton are a renewed force under their manager, Brian Sørensen, and although it is taking time to show in their results, the first signs of growth are there. Arsenal’s Jonas Eidevall hailed their “very clear identity” ahead of the game. “You can see that [Sørensen] try to build something long term as they are very consistent in the way they do things almost no matter what opponents they play. They ask interesting tactical questions of the teams they play against,” he said.
Arsenal came into this game after a bruising first league defeat of the WSL season, losing 3-2 to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium – a result that ended their 18-game unbeaten streak and streak. of 14 consecutive victories.
In this match, the absence of Kim Little, who was injured at the MCL in the loss to West Ham at the end of October, seemed to be one too many. She was joined by Lina Hurtig, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza and Teyah Goldie in the treatment room.
Arsenal have now also lost Beth Mead after rupturing her ACL against United, so it was a hugely welcome sight for home fans to see the influential centre-back duo of Williamson and Souza back in the matchday squad, while Everton welcomed Nicoline Sørensen. for the first time since his ACL injury.
Arsenal dominated from the start, as they have so regularly this season, but they lacked teeth, giving Everton hope when they had rare counter-attacking opportunities. The visitors fell into a back five each time Arsenal pushed into the final third, meaning options were limited. Despite Arsenal’s control, after 20 minutes each team had one shot apiece, with none on target.
Something special was needed and someone special provided it. Miedema, making his first league start since Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Reading on October 16 and having enjoyed a rest during the international break, collected a pass from Caitlin Foord who, with his back to goal, shielded the ball at the feet of the WSL top scorer. Miedema clipped his right foot before striking into the top corner.
Arsenal should have doubled their lead in the second half when goalkeeper Emily Ramsey, on loan from Manchester United, made an impressive double save to deny Miedema before being beaten by the third consecutive effort only for an Everton defender to clear the line.
With 20 minutes remaining, Williamson entered the fray in place of Jen Beattie and instantly cleared the ball to the delight of the crowd.