Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: Citizens edge ever closer to WSL title as deflected free-kick secures win

A deflected free-kick off the head of Jane Ross gave Man City victory over Arsenal as City strengthened their lead at the top of the WSL.

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: Citizens edge ever closer to WSL title as deflected free-kick secures win
The Man City players celebrate the only goal of the game | Photo: FA WSL
Arsenal Ladies
0 1
Manchester City Women
Arsenal Ladies: Arsenal Ladies: van Veenendaal, Mitchell (Losada, min. 63), Henning, Rose, Stoney, Williams, Nobbs, Corredera, van de Donk, Carter (McCabe, min74), Oshoala (Janssen, min. 63).
Manchester City Women: Man City Women: Bardsley, Bronze, Beattie, Houghton, Stokes, Scott, Walsh, Christiansen, Parris, Duggan (Asllani, min.86), Ross (Middag, min.92).
SCORE: 0-1, min. 50, Ross.
REFEREE: Colin Lymer. Booked - Parris.
INCIDENTS: WSL 1 match between Arsenal and Manchester City.

A slightly fortunate goal off the head of Jane Ross was enough for Man City at Borehamwood this afternoon as Steph Houghton's free-kick was deflected in to seal a 1-0 win for City over Arsenal.

The win meant that the Citizens strengthened their grip on top spot in the WSL with just two games remaining, as they look to wrap up the title. 

City strike lucky

Man City, considering their  goal scoring form this season, were far from their best against Arsenal as they did their upmost best to remain resilient at the back However in the end it was a piece of good fortune for Nick Cushing's players that gave City another vital three points in their pursuit of the WSL crown.

The Man City attack didn't create a huge amount but the goal came shortly after the second half got underway. Fara Williams brought down Ross in a clumsy tackle and up stepped former Gunner Houghton. Her free-kick wasn't brilliantly struck, but it came off Ross in the wall and wrong footed Sari van Veenendaal in the Gunners goal.

It was a big slice of fortune for the visitors, but when you're chasing the league title that's the kind of luck you need.

Equal game yet comfortable for City

On the balance of play, the game was quite an equal one, neither side created many clear cut chances but it was Cushing's side that came out on top. The likes of Ross and Nikita Parris were kept quiet for large parts of the first half, but they remained a threat alongside the ever lively Toni Duggan. For Arsenal though, they would have been quite content with their first half display, as they restricted City to efforts predominantly outside the box.

City never looked like losing the game however, and with Jill Scott in the middle breaking up play and moving the ball on, the visitors controlled proceedings for much of the match.

Although they were fortunate with the way the goal came, the result never really seemed in any doubt, such was the lack of penetration going forward from Arsenal. 

Same old Arsenal

Man City have been excellent defensively this season, and after this result they achieved their fourth clean-sheet on the bounce. They restricted the Gunners massively going forward with Pedro Martinez Losa having to change things tactically on a regular basis in the second half. It was a game where the same old problems were in evidence for the home side though. 

Arsenal played wide in the first half with Danielle Carter and Asisat Oshoala looking to stretch the play but the City defence sat back meaning they went relatively untroubled. After the goal though Arsenal reverted to a more narrower style of play with Vicky Losada coming on. That didn't bring any luck either, and as has been the case too often this season, they failed to create enough clear-cut chances.

Jordan Nobbs was the Gunners best player, controlling the game and dictating the play well from midfield but Arsenal couldn't quite seem to find the break they were looking for. Nobbs came the closest for the home side in the first half as her volley from inside the area was tipped over brilliantly by Bardsley but that was as good as it got.

It's been no secret what Arsenal's problem has been this season; they've struggled to score goals and create chances. Once again that was the issue against Man City at Meadow Park as they failed to get revenge for being knocked out of the Continental Cup by the same opposition a week previous. 

Arsenal needed to move the ball quicker in the final third if they were to have any chance of breaking down a City defence that have conceded the least amount of goals in the WSL this season.  

They had a late flurry in the final ten minutes as they put the pressure on, but Karen Bardsley went largely untroubled in the visitors net.

City on the verge

With today's win, Man City continued their incredible unbeaten run and are now just one win away from securing the WSL for the very first time.

They have two games remaining but it could all be confirmed in their next match at the end of the month, as all they need to do is avoid defeat against Chelsea, the team that have been their biggest rivals for the title this season. 

The stage is set for City then, as they hope to take the title off the hands of Chelsea when they meet at the Academy Stadium. If they were to win, it would be a result that would be hugely fitting of their season. 

They have dominated all season long, but the title is finally in sight for Manchester City Women.