Arsenal 0-4 Liverpool
The FA WSL
7pm, Tuesday 7 May 2013
Arsenal, the defending FA WSL champions, were stunned at the Emirates Stadium as Liverpool struck four times to record their biggest-ever League win.
Domestic and European Cup commitments had forced the Gunners to start their League campaign later than everyone else and they got the defence of their crown off to the worst possible start, with a brace from Amanda Da Costa and further strikes from Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors propelling the visitors to an emphatic win.
Reds boss Matt Beard, whose side are now unbeaten in their opening three League and Continental Cup fixtures, praised his players’ display in north London but insists he’s keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
He said: “I’m pleased with the performance, but we’re not going to get carried away by any stretch of the imagination.
“When I saw their teamsheet today and looked at that bench, they did not have a Plan B.
“We got them three goals in that ten-minute period, and that’s because we stopped them playing down that right-hand side.”
The scoreline perhaps flattered Liverpool, with a combination of profligacy, misfortune and inspired defending preventing Arsenal from breaching Sarah Quantrill’s goal.
Arsenal could have been 3-0 up inside the opening ten minutes, but Ciara Grant saw her header cleared off the line by Fara Williams, while Gemma Davison and Ellen White were denied by Quantrill and Whitney Engen respectively.
Liverpool settled after the opening exchanges and should’ve taken the lead after 35 minutes when Da Costa fed a superb through ball toward Dowie. However the striker, who was one-on-one with Emma Byrne, lashed her shot high and wide.
But parity did not last for long as just two minutes later Da Costa squeezed the ball past Byrne from the edge of the area.
The Gunners were desperately unlucky not to level with the last chance of the half when White’s looping header bounced off the top of the crossbar, but they crumbled soon after the restart, conceding three goals inside a manic six-minute spell.
First Da Costa doubled her tally with a close-range finish, before the unmarked Dowie flicked a header into the far corner of the net from a Fors corner-kick.
And Liverpool rubbed salt into the wound within seconds as Fors, who had the freedom of the Arsenal box, slotted the ball beyond Byrne following good work from Williams on the left-hand side.
Arsenal did not give up however – PFA Women’s Player of the Year Kim Little struck the post – but they failed to find the back of the net.
Gunners captain Steph Houghton admitted her side missed the threat of a key first-team trio.
She said: “To be honest, we’re just really disappointed that we let four in. We created so many chances throughout the game and that’s something that we’re missing at the minute – a little bit of a clinical edge. It’s tough to take.
“Of course you’re going to miss the likes of Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey, and Jayne Ludlow, who we’ve been missing for a few games.”
Byrne, Scott, Flaherty, Grant, Beattie, Houghton, Nobbs (Bailey 75), Davison, Little, Carter, White
Substitutes not used Tracy, Spencer, Bruton, Bragg
Quantrill, Bronze, Engen, Bonner, Schroder, Fors, Williams, Omarsdottir, Da Costa (Holbrook 72), Rolser (Fenlon-Billson 76), Dowie
Substitutes not used Gibbons, Easton, Evans, Keryakoplis, Riccio