The first half of this match saw Arsenal start out strong with a steady and patient attack. The visitors earned their first corner in the 6th minute which lead to a Katie McCabe try at goal that went wide. Arsenal controlled the pitch and put forth several strong runs in the next ten minutes, but Tottenham's defense was able to hold the line. After attacks from Danielle Van de Donk and Vivianne Miedema were turned aside by Becky Spencer, Arsenal shifted into a higher gear and dominated the rest of the half.
Foord on the board
More shots from Van de Donk and Miedema and three excellent corners from McCabe preceded the inevitable Arsenal first goal. With Spurs only getting across the midfield stripe a few times, the Gunners finally struck in the 26th minute. Running a perfect give-and-go with Noelle Maritz, striker Caitlin Foord continued her run and took the return pass from her defender, finishing with a low shot that Spencer had no chance at.
From there, the Gunners kept pressing and were rewarded again. Van de Donk, Miedema, and Jordan Nobbs sent several shots toward goal, and Miedema nabbed her league-leading 15th of the season. Another terrific corner from McCabe came directly to the striker. Perfectly positioned in the box, Miedema immediately buried the ball in the top corner.
The Flying Dutchwomen
While only Miedema would finish the match featuring on the score sheet, both she and her national side teammate Van de Donk were the stars of the first half. Van de Donk used her tenacity and speed to get several great chances; Spencer was the only reason the midfielder didn't have a brace. In addition to her wonderful goal, Miedema had a dozen other quality chances. Using her amazing knowledge of the pitch and where she always needs to be, the Gunners' star created a host of chances for her teammates as well.
Different half, different speed, same results
The second half saw the hosts come out stronger and finally have some success getting into the final third. Arsenal also laid off of their pressing style, content to hold their lead and look for an opening without exposing their defense to quick counter-attacks. The more defensive style adopted by the Gunners did provide Tottenham opportunity to move forward with the ball, but it was the visitors who again found the back of the net. Playing high up from her starting right back position, McCabe pounced on a backpass from Abi McManus and slid a shot just inside the far post beyond Spencer.
Following Arsenal's third goal, Tottenham skipper Rehanne Skinner subbed in Rachel Williams for Rosella Ayane, and the attacker made an immediate impact. Williams was right on top of the Arsenal defence and forced the play from the moment she stepped on the pitch to the final whistle. Her press forced a giveaway by Lotte Wubben-Moy, and only two amazing saves from Manuela Zinsberger kept the clean sheet for the Gunners.
Player of the Match
Vivianne Miedema - In addition to her goal, Miedema created chances throughout the entire match for her teammates as well as herself. Always knowing where to be, she puts herself in scoring positions at all times and is nearly impossible to mark. A massive match today for the WSL's leading scorer.
For Tottenham, this match was a chance to both move up the table and show they could play with the higher level clubs. They were unable to do either, and are currently floundering in eight place. With games in hand, both Birmingham City and Aston Villa could pass the Spurs. Tottenham have won just two of their last ten matches, and have been kept off the scoresheet in 6 of those. Spencer is playing well, but the absence of Ashleigh Neville on the backline and as a scoring threat is apparent. Spurs' road doesn't get any easier, as they face Manchester City at The Hive next Sunday.
For the Gunners, this was a perfect match. The team had to cope with some injuries that changed their starting backline, and they did so in tremendous fashion. The Arsenal midfield and attack looked terrific today.
With the win, they maintain their standing in the battle with Manchester United, who won earlier in the day, 2-0 over West Ham. The Gunners control their own fate in Champion's League qualifying, with four matches left against sides lower in the table. The team faces Bristol City at Twerton Park next Sunday.