WSL Matchday 9 round-up: Arsenal back to winning ways with narrow Everton win
Arsenal returned to winning ways in the Women’s Super League with a narrow 1-0 win over Everton to keep within touching distance of title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United.
The Gunners saw their perfect start to the season KO'd by the Red Devils last time out but Vivianne Miedema’s superb finish earned them the points against the Toffees.
The clash at Meadow Park also saw England captain Leah Williamson make her first appearance since September as a substitute.
It leaves Jonas Eidevall’s side in third place, level on points with United and three behind leaders Chelsea.
Dutch superstar Miedema collected Caitlin Foord’s knock-down inside the box before cutting inside and striking a fine effort in the 24th minute.
An impressive 12 saves by Everton goalkeeper Emily Ramsey stopped it from being a more comfortable game for the Gunners.
But while Miedema’s goal eventually proved enough, boss Jonas Eidevall urged his side to more clinical to kill teams off in the future.
On whether the game was made nervier by their slender lead, the Swede said: "Yes, of course but that is always the case when you don’t score the second goal, that they will throw everything up.
"You either score the second goal or you have to defend those situations.
"I am a bit disappointed with that part, that we didn’t put the game to rest earlier because we had the chances to do it."
Leaders Chelsea hit eight
Chelsea were in imperious form as they beat bottom-side Leicester 8-0 in Emma Hayes' 300th game in charge.
The Blues raced into a five-goal lead going into the break thanks to goals from Guro Reiten, Fran Kirby, Jessie Fleming, Niamh Charles and Sam Kerr.
Fleming then grabbed her second and substitute Beth England nodded home a seventh before Kirby doubled her tally for the afternoon.
With this Hayes’ third game back in the Chelsea dugout since recovering from an emergency hysterectomy, the 46-year-old was delighted to see the work on the training ground come to fruition.
She said: "I’m just happy to see us working on the things we work on in training.
"The most important thing for me is that we take that work into here and that everyone across the squad can play the roles we ask them and execute at the level we do.
"I really like that for 90 minutes we sustained a performance today."
United delight record crowd
United had momentarily drawn level on points with the leaders thanks to an impressive 5-0 reverse of Aston Villa in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford.
Katie Zelem lashed home the opener before Leah Galton doubled their lead before half-time, with Alessia Russo, Ona Batlle and Rachel Williams ensuring it was a memorable afternoon for the 30,196 supporters inside the Theatre of Dreams.
After thriving on the big stage against the WSL’s fifth-placed side, England star Ella Toone urged her side to maintain their high standards with a Manchester derby up next.
Toone, 23, said: "We are feeling really confident that we can go out and produce big performances like this one.
"Our standards are so high that we are not 100% happy with our performance and we want more from ourselves.
"We demand so much more, but we are happy with the three points and the five goals."
City keep up pace
Manchester City stayed within three points of second as they claimed their eighth straight win in all competitions by beating Brighton 3-1.
Julie Blakstad and Laura Coombs were on target for Gareth Taylor’s side, who also benefittted from a Veatriki Sarri own goal, on a comfortable afternoon at the Academy Stadium, with Geum-Min Lee pulling one back in stoppage time for the Seagulls.
Since losing their first two games of the season, the Citizens have won six in a row in the WSL.
With Norway international Blakstad netting her third in as many games since switching to a more attacking role, manager Taylor was full of praise for the 21-year-old.
The 49-year-old said: "I think we were just trying to find [Blakstad's best] position.
"We knew for certain she’d be on the left, but weren’t sure if it’d be at left-back.
"She’s a different type of winger, different to Lauren [Hemp], like Hayley [Raso] is different to Chloe [Kelly] or Jess [Park] last year.
"Any player thrives with continuous games, she’s robust physically, she never wants a day off, she’s a good young talent.
"We’re working on key areas, but the goal contributions have been good so far."
WSL Matchday 9 results
Manchester United 5-0 Aston Villa
Arsenal 1-0 Everton
Leicester 0-8 Chelsea
Reading 1-0 Tottenham
Manchester City 3-1 Brighton
Liverpool 2-0 West Ham