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Arsenal go eight points clear at top of WSL after 4-2 win over Birmingham

Vivianne Miedema became the first player in the Women’s Super League to provide 100 goal contributions as she helped Arsenal overcome a battling Birmingham City, 4-2.

The hosts were in control from the off at Meadow Park, Brazilian defender Rafaelle Souza heading home Steph Catley’s corner to give the league leaders an early lead.

Kim Little played in Miedema to double Arsenal’s advantage on the half hour mark – her 70th goal, to go alongside 30 assists – before Beth Mead put them three up with a smart finish.

Libby Smith and Lucy Quinn scored twice in eight minutes to set up a nervy finale, but Jonas Eidevall’s side held on with Caitlin Foord lashing home in injury time to keep their title charge firmly on track.

Miedema was twice denied before Souza put the Gunners ahead. She was left unmarked in the City penalty area, cushioning her header into the ground and then over the outstretched hand of Marie Hourihan.

Wave after wave of red-shirted attacks followed and, somewhat inevitably, it was Miedema who provided the breakthrough.

Played in by captain Little, the Dutch striker was initially repelled by Hourihan but made no mistake with her second attempt, belting into an open goal.

And when Mead arrowed home a lovely finish into the far corner with just 20 minutes to play, it appeared to be game over.

But Birmingham, the only side to have beaten the Gunners in the league this term, rallied.

Smith tapped home from two yards, profiting from Gemma Lawley’s towering header across goal, followed quickly by Lucy Quinn’s lofted finish over Manuela Zinsberger.

It served for an intriguing finale as Darren Carter’s team pushed for what would have been a remarkable equaliser, only to be stopped in their tracks by Foord’s composed effort at the death.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Manuela Zinsberger; Steph Catley, Rafaelle Souza, Leah Williamson, Laura Wienroither; Lia Walti, Kim Little (c); Katie McCabe, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead; Stina Blackstenius

Substitutes: Caitlin Foord for Blackstenius 59, Frida Maanum for Little 71, Mana Iwabuchi for Miedema 71, Tobin Heath for Catley 71, Jordan Nobbs for Mead 90+2

Substitutes not used: Lydia Williams (gk), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jennifer Beattie, Noelle Maritz

Goals: Souza 13, Miedema 30, Mead 70, Foord 90+1

Bookings: Walti 60, Wienroither 73

Birmingham City (5-4-1): Marie Hourihan; Rebecca Holloway, Harriet Scott, Louise Quinn (c), Gemma Lawley, Jamie Finn; Lucy Quinn, Veatriki Sarri, Christie Murray, Emily Whelan; Libby Smith

Substitutes: Eleanor Ryan-Doyle for Whelan 74

Substitutes not used: Lucy Jones (gk), Abbi Jenner, Abi Cowie, Maria Timms, Delphi Cole

Goals: Smith 74, Lucy Quinn 82

Bookings: Lawley 43, Holloway 57

Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall said: "We lost rhythm and conceded two goals from situations which we can do better in, but I was happy we got our mindset back into the game to get the fourth. After the second goal, it looked like we wanted the game to end,” said Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall. “Apart from the goals we conceded, it was a much better performance against a tough team to beat. We saw that in the away game. They are so compact, giving away very little and the only place they do is the sides and for you to cross. “There was so much history today. Beth Mead scored her 50th goal in the WSL and Jordan Nobbs made her 250th appearance, which is a huge achievement and we are so proud of her. And then you have Viv (Miedema) with her 100 goal involvements, and that is huge. I don’t think she’ll personally care too much about it but it’s a result of all the great things she’s done and we’re proud of her.” Birmingham City interim manager Darren Carter said: “I’m a little bit disappointed with the manner of the goals we conceded, especially the first two. It’s always important when you play against a team of Arsenal’s calibre that you make them earn their goals,” said Birmingham City interim manager, Darren Carter. “But the reaction to going three nil down was excellent. It was all about mentality at that stage and asking the players to re-set and go again. So credit goes to the players, I’m proud of them – they did everything to stay in the game. “There was a lot of adrenaline at 3-2 but against Arsenal, you have to be cautious how you approach it. If you over-commit and high press them, they’ll pick you apart and you saw when we did go for it, they got their fourth. “Arsenal managed the game well at the end when we went for the third. But we’ve gone toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the league, again, and shown spirit and fight. We are going to need that to put points on the board, which this group can.”

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