Holders claim early lead
Pushed back into their own half from the get-go, Arsenal looked more like the away team unsure of how to take the match to their opposition. Yet, despite being forced to sit deep the hosts found a crucial breakthrough just after the quarter hour when Dominque Bloodworth fed the ball through for Vivianne Miedema, WSL’s top goalscorer timing her run and strike to perfection to open the scores.
Composed and confident, Untied withstood the immediate burst from the Gunners after the opener, the defence a little ragged but with plenty of cover in midfield, Siobhan Chamberlain was a match for what was thrown at her. The molehill almost ballooned into a mountain as Louise Quinn placed a header to the far side of the goal, a well-timed block from Katie Zelem enough to keep the visitors in it.
A strenuous first half saw United sitting off a little after the break, the tea, defending in numbers as the ball routinely bounced around their box. Not looking as comfortable as they would have liked, the Red Devils conceded their second of the night just before the hour as Miedema again, left the net rippling with a clinical finish.
Having made all three changes, the visiting side found the fresher legs on the pitch paying dividends as the team pushed forward and Mollie Green picked out the bottom corner as Sari van Veenendaal’s parry dropped kindly. The goal enough to spark a late drive for the Red Devils, both teams frantic in the home box but time fast ran out for the visitors.
Talismanic for Arsenal this season, Miedema was again a force to be reckoned with in the box, working the visiting defence well to punch two holes through Chamberlain’s clean sheet. At the other end of the pitch, Leah Williamson was working hard in defence to ensure United’s prolific attack didn’t find a foothold in the match.
For the Red Devils, Millie Turner and Chamberlain did the lion’s share of defensive work between them, Turner making a few vital blocks and clearances as her goalkeeper came up with a number of good saves.
A rerun of the league cup finals from 2014, 2016 and 2018, Arsenal and Manchester United will again go head-to-head for the first silverware of the season at Bramall Lane later this month.