Arsenal ended the year in fine style

The home side made a dream start, when Jordan Nobbs opened the scoring from close-range.

Arsenal extended their lead through Caitlin Foord, who met Jill Roord’s low-cross to slot the ball past the Toffees keeper Sandy Maclver.

The Gunners continued where they left off in the first half, a Jen Beattie header from Foord’s corner. Beth Mead got on the scoresheet, as her curling effort from the edge of the box secured an emphatic win.

Everton extend their winless run to five games and now lost their last 10 league meetings with Arsenal. 

  • Story of the match

Arsenal found the breakthrough when Mead glided a low cross from the right to find Nobbs, who tapped the ball into the net from close-range to earn a deserved lead.

The home side doubled their lead when Leah Williamson executed a long ball over to find the unmarked Roord. The 23-year-old did brilliantly to get behind the Everton defence on the right flank and executed a low-cross to find Foord, who tucked the ball into the net.

As the game progressed, Everton failed to capitalise on goalscoring opportunities despite having most of the ball but Arsenal remained organised at the back.

The Gunners almost claimed their third goal before half-time, Beattie’s thumping header went over the bar.

The visitors struggled to find the cutting edge but were more competitive in the second half.

Everton keeper, Sandy Maclver, was kept busy and produced a magnificent save to deny Roord’s effort from Nobbs’ pull-back.

In the 61st minute, Beattie was unmarked as she headed the ball into an empty net. The Toffees’ shot stopper missed her punch and left Beattie unmarked.

Arsenal celebrated the 29-year-old’s goal, as she continues to battle with breast cancer.

The Gunners extended their lead in quick succession. Nobbs’ executed a long ball to release Mead on the right wing.

The former Sunderland forward curled a wonderful effort past Maclver from the edge of the box.

The Gunners continued to dominate and penetrated through the Everton backline; Mead released Foord, who goes one-on-one with Toffees' keeper.

Foord did really well to get around the keeper but Maclver managed to deflect her effort and denied the Australian's fifth goal of the season.

Out of nowhere, Everton came extremely close to get onto the scoresheet when substitute Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah’s left-footed effort rattled the crossbar. Arsenal saw the game out and ended the year in style – three points and a clean sheet.

  • Takeaways from the match

No Vivianne Miedema, no problem

Arsenal head coach, Joe Montemurro, started the likes of Beth Mead and Caitlin Foord in the front three. Despite Miedema scoring 11 goals so far in the Women’s Super League, there was no problem for Arsenal to dig in and win convincingly to end this surreal year in emphatic fashion.   

Injury concerns have impacted his decision to rotate and make tactical changes, so opportunities to rest the big stars was strange but it has paid dividends. They were able to create clear-cut chances and play free-flowing football, with keen pressing and quick pressing. As Montemurro rotated his squad, other members of the squad can equally contribute goals to the team. Caitlin Foord and Jill Roord have both scored six and seven goals respectively in the WSL. It is pretty evident that Montemurro’s side is capable of scoring lots of goals.

They have now scored 38 league goals in 10 games and will surpass their goal scoring record from last season. But have to note, 19/20 WSL campaign was curtailed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Squad rotation is very important, particular in these current times which games are coming thick and fast more than ever. Having to rest Miedema is key, to ensure fitness and confidence is at the highest standards. There is a plenty of catching up to do in the women’s game after seven months of no live sport.

Arsenal are back to winning ways now and face a three-week break from league and domestic competitions, having played two more games than Chelsea in third and one more than City.

The team’s record against the so-called outside the top sides is exceptional and haven’t endured a defeat since losing 3-0 to Birmingham in April 2018.  

With Manchester United setting the standards high in the WSL, Arsenal will be up there as always and mounted further pressure to deliver. The Gunners have to face Manchester United and City at home, Chelsea away and arch-rivals Tottenham away from home. Those games will be so decisive as to whether they can reclaim their title once again.

  • Player of the match

Katie McCabe – the 25-year-old made her 100th Arsenal appearance in style and was happy to reach an important landmark so far in her playing career. The versatile player when she produced a pinpoint corner and found defender Jennifer Beattie, who was completely unmarked and headed the ball into the net.

She performed extremely well in build-up plays and was at the heart of everything Arsenal achieved up-front. Despite facing a lot of hurdles along the way, she still has a future at the club and can play a part in Arsenal’s title run-in.