Arsenal managed to put this week’s Champions League disappointment behind them with a 1-0 win against Leicester City in the WSL.
Jonas Eidevall’s Gunners were eliminated in the semi-finals deep into extra-time against Wolfsburg on Monday, though picked themselves to grab a crucial victory back at Meadow Park in Borehamwood.
The Foxes put up an admirable fight full of aggression and determination but return to the East Midlands still precariously perched above the relegation zone.
Arsenal were awarded a penalty with only five minutes on the clock. A short corner saw Katie McCabe give the ball to Frida Maanum then take it back, and she was tripped by Hannah Cain. McCabe stepped up to take, but her low effort was beaten away by Janina Leitzig.
The hosts remained in the ascendancy even if clear-cut chances were harder to come by, if in part because Leicester had wised up. Stina Blackstenius trie to work an opening with a weaving run but was dispossessed by Ruby Mace at the last.
Leicester had a decent spell of attacking possession midway through the first half, with Lotte Wubbon-Moy providing a crucial block when the hosts failed to clear the ball and Sabrina D’Angelo coming off her line to deny Cain a free shot.
Back down the other end, Noelle Maritz’s cross fell to Kathrine Kuhl, but she was put off by the advancing figure of Leitzig and her shot trickled wide.
A free header from Jen Beattie failed to really test Leitzig as Arsenal’s frustrating evening in front of goal continued.
After the break, the hosts’ search for an opener dragged on, but Leicester were incensed that they weren’t awarded a penalty of their own when Cain capitalised on a missed header by Rafaelle and raced through on goal, eventually being brought down by D’Angelo, but replays showed the Canadian got a telling touch on the ball.
Just after an hour, Arsenal broke the deadlock. McCabe’s long throw found substitute Jodie Taylor in space, and she pulled the ball back for Maanum to caress into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Maanum went close to doubling her tally for the evening with a free-kick from similar range, though her dipped effort was this time held by Leitzig.
Once again, Maanum forced Leitzig into a save with the next attack, with a 20-yard shot well tipped over by the German.
The affair was quickly turning into a one-woman show with Maanum rattling the crossbar with another free-kick.
Ten minutes were added on at the end of the second half following various injury stoppages, but neither side really threatened in the closing stages and so Arsenal took the points.
GK: Sabrina D’Angelo – 7/10 – Always made herself available for a pass when Arsenal were being pressed.
CB: Lotte Wubben-Moy – 6/10 – Her over-aggression was nearly caught out early on but the England international star was largely fine.
CB: Jen Beattie – 6/10 – Rarely troubled in her patch of the pitch.
CB: Rafaelle – 6/10 – The least secure of Arsenal’s backline but they generally coped well with the pressure.
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RM: Noelle Maritz – 6/10 – Stretched play and was a useful crossing outlet.
CM: Frida Maanum – 9/10 – So calm in possession and then scored a worldie to break the deadlock.
CM: Lia Walti – 8/10 – Likewise a maestro in midfield.
LM: Katie McCabe – 6/10 – Could have easily hid after the early penalty miss but endeavoured to take responsibility.
RF: Victoria Pelova – 8/10 – Often tucked inside to create overloads, which Leicester were unable to deal with.
LF: Kathrine Kuhl – 5/10 – Played on the periphery of the game.
CF: Stina Blackstenius – 5/10 – Withdrawn just before the hour mark. Struck a few shots without conviction.
Steph Catley (58′ for Beattie) – N/A
Jodie Taylor (58′ for Blackstenius) – 7/10
Gio Queiroz (74′ for Catley) – 5/10
Michelle Agyeman (90′ for Kuhl) – N/A
Jonas Eidevall – 7/10 – Arsenal reacted well to their setback early this week.
GK: Janina Leitzig – 8/10 – Kept the scoreline down and produced a wonderful penalty save.
RB: CJ Bott – 6/10 – Threw herself into a few challenges with over-eagerness, which was understandable against a busy body like McCabe.
CB: Sophie Howard – 5/10 – Similarly on skates a little after looking passable at 0-0.
CB: Ruby Mace – 6/10 – Often Leicester’s saving grace at the back (of players that couldn’t use their hands, anyway).
CB: Ashleigh Plumptre – 6/10 – Showed great resilience in her hour on the pitch.
LB: Courtney Nevin – 5/10 – Rarely involved at either end.
RM: Aileen Whelan – 5/10 – Didn’t provide a lot in Leicester’s rare attacks.
CM: Samantha Tierney – 5/10 – Not a lot you can do when Maanum and Walti were in form like this.
CM: Josie Green – 5/10 – Ditto. Not an indictment on Leicester or their players.
LM: Molly Pike – 5/10 – Found it difficult to make an impact.
CF: Hannah Cain – 7/10 – Got away with the penalty gaffe and was simultaneously her side’s most threatening player.
Jemma Purfield (59′ for Plumptre) – 5/10
Carrie Jones (66′ for Whelan) – 5/10
Remy Siemsen (66′ for Cain) – 5/10
Ava Baker (85′ for Pike) – N/A
Missy Goodwin (85′ for Green) – N/A
Willie Kirk – 6/10 – Switching to this formation was probably the right call but Arsenal’s eventually told.