WSL: Arsenal v Liverpool
Off the back of their Conti Cup win, Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 in freezing conditions
10 March 2023
Arsenal comfortably beat Liverpool 2-0 in the Women’s Super League on Wednesday evening as they returned to action for the first time since winning the Conti Cup at the weekend. Stina Blackstenius and Caitlin Foord scored the goals for the Gunners during the first half.
Jonas Eidevall made two changes for Arsenal from Sunday’s cup final starting eleven with Laura Wienroither and Victoria Pelova coming in for Noelle Maritz and Steph Catley. Eidevall confirmed after that match that Catley had sustained “a non contact foot injury that needs to be assessed further, and that she is definitely out on Sunday (against Reading) but after that we don’t know”.
Katie McCabe switched position from Sunday and started on the left side of defence with Pelova taking her place as one of the wide attackers.
Liverpool’s last game was three and a half weeks when they lost 1-0 at home to Leicester City in the WSL. Matt Beard made five changes from the side that started that match with Emma Koivisto, Leighanne Robe, Carla Humphrey, Hannah Silcock and Miri Taylor coming in.
On a bitterly cold and sleety night at Meadow Park, Arsenal had a chance within the first minute but Blackstenius’ low effort hit the bottom of the post and went wide. The Gunners played some nice football in the first half with one touch passes and trying to move the ball quickly. Lia Walti played a lovely through pass to Frida Leonhardsen Maanum but Rachael Laws rushed out of goal and got to the ball first.
There were chants of “Conti Cup champions, we know what we are” around the ground before Blackstenius had another chance but headed wide from a corner. The Swedish international went closer to scoring when her curling effort from 20-yards went just wide of the post in the 11th minute.
Missy Bo Kearns had what turned out to be Liverpool’s only effort on target when her shot was saved by Manuela Zinsberger. A corner from the visitors caused problems but their chances were few and far between.
In the 24th minute, Leah Williamson had the ball in net for Arsenal after nice cross from Pelova but the offside flag was up to deny her a goal in front of the North Bank.
Blackstenius opened the scoring for the home side a few minutes later when she controlled a pass from Maanum, turned and finished low into the net from just inside the area.
Maanum almost extended Arsenal’s lead when her dipping effort from 25-yards went just over.
Arsenal did double their lead in the 34th minute. Blackstenius saw her shot saved by Laws and Foord was first to the loose ball to head into an unguarded net.
Blackstenius, who had been excellent during the first half and was later named as Player of the Match, had a couple more chances before the break but headed wide, and then saw an effort saved by Laws.
Beard made a triple substitution for Liverpool at half time and changed formation to play three at the back. Eidevall said after the match that these changes by the visitors took “a little bit of time to settle into” as they had gone player v player all over the pitch with their pressing. He continued by saying “we found some really good solutions playing out of their pressure, and this shows his sides adaptability and they can handle different formations.”
These changes were maybe why there weren’t many chances during the second half. Liverpool didn’t test Zinsberger and saw a few efforts sail over the crossbar. For Arsenal, Maanum saw her free kick scrambled clear, Lotte Wubben-Moy headed straight at Laws, and Gio sent an effort over as she looked for her first goal for the Gunners.
With their substitutions during the second half, Arsenal moved Pelov to play in the number 6 role. Eidevall noted that Pelov is a “versatile player and we are very happy to have her here” and that he is “delighted with her”. The Gunners finished the game by playing a back three of Wubben-Moy, Rafaelle and Jen Beattie. Eidevall commented that this change “made us see out the game really well.”
Arsenal’s first league win since December sees them remain in fourth place in the WSL but move three points behind Manchester City with a game in hand. Liverpool stay in eighth position after this defeat. On Sunday, Arsenal take on Reading at home whilst Liverpool welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Prenton Park.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Zinsberger, Wienroither (Maritz 70’), Williamson (Wubben-Moy 61’), Rafaelle, McCabe, Walti (Kuhl 61’), Little (c), Maanum, Pelova, Blackstenius (Beattie 83’), Foord (Gio 70’)
Unused substitute: Marckese
Goals – Blackstenius 28’, Foord 34’
Booked - Gio
Liverpool (4-4-2): Laws, Koivisto, Silcock (Bonner 45’), Robe, Hinds (c), Nagano, Taylor (Daniels 45’), Holland (Lundgaard 72’), Kearns, Humphrey (Campbell 45’), Stengel
Unused substitute: Kirby
Booked – Holland, Lundgaard
Referee – Emily Heaslip