After a frustrating first half, Arsenal found joy after the break at home to Sunderland, Louise Quinn’s header, Vivianne Miedema’s clinical curler and Jordan Nobbs’ smart free kick enough for the hosts as they brushed the Lady Black Cats aside.
Attack versus defence
As was much to be expected, Arsenal took the reins early on doing their best to push their opposition back and work an opening a shot from Beth Mead in the seventh minute brought about the first real save. Rachael Laws sharp to deny her former teammate as she turned the ball over form an unspectacular corner. A hopeful punt from Dominique Bruinenberg flew wide before Dan Carter slipped one just wide of the post after a nice one-two with Mead.
The Gunners were soon applying pressure with a trowel, red shirts flocking into the attacking half as Sunderland were forced back, blocking left and right to keep the parity, Arsenal rushed in her endeavours for a breakthrough. The half wore on with the football only going in one direction, a neat Vivianne Miedema header clipped the bar before Mead saw her follow-up blocked by the hard-worked defence.
Another Arsenal corner came and went on the half hour and whilst it wasn’t just whipped into Laws’ gloves by Jordan Nobbs it was similarly as disappointing from the team in the ascendancy. Laws was called back into action ten minutes before the break to prevent Ellie Stewart’s flicked header from flying into the top corner, the defender more clinical in front of her own goal than any of the home side.
A corner from the left seemed to finally have the visiting team beaten, a header drifted towards goal, the upright enough to deny the first-time effort before both sides frantically tried to claim the loose ball. It eventually worked itself free and the Lady Black Cats cleared their lines, Arsenal immediately back on the offensive but well held until the break.
Quinn breaks the deadlock
Needing a few minutes to resettle after the break, the Gunners were soon back hounding the away box, Mead’s low drive slipped just wide of Laws’ far post before Sunderland pushed back, Lucy Staniforth’s snap-shot scooped over by the captain.
It was without irony that Arsenal finally found their magic moment after their worst period in the game, the goalscorer one of the few who hadn’t been frequenting the attacking half. Nobbs’ whipped free kick met well in the air by Louise Quinn, the centre back with an uncanny knack for bailing her team out of tough situations. The advantage was soon doubled by Miedema with a delicious arced ball from the left side of the box to the far corner, the host finally having found a way through.
Despite the scoreline the game was more open after the break, Sunderland at least able to get higher up the pitch than before, Anna Moorhouse still left watching the game with little to do however.
The game well out of reach when Nobbs slipped the ball around the ball and into the back of the net from a direct free kick on the edge of the area for a contentious handball. The ball continued to ping back and forth from one end of the pitch to the other but without purpose, Arsenal retained possession bit did little from open play.
With the visitors well beaten and worn down the last few minutes belonged to Arsenal, Leah Williamson and Lisa Evans on with fresh legs to stretch the defence, Mead and co’ still full of energy. Laws stood up well to deny Nobbs a late second in her last action of the day, Dan Carter’s fast feet too much for the Sunderland defence as they vied not to concede a fourth.
A foregone conclusion after Quinn’s opening header, Arsenal marched to victory, a late effort from Simona Koren not enough to best a bored Moorhouse.