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Arsenal thrash Leicester 4-0 to increase gap over Chelsea at top of the WSL

By Football Reporter

Arsenal 4-0 Leicester

Arsenal bounced back from Vitality Women’s FA Cup final and Champions League defeats to Chelsea and Juventus with a comfortable 4-0 win over Leicester in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.

Jordan Nobbs and Vivianne Miedema struck before half-time with super sub Frida Maanum heading in twice late on to seal victory against the Foxes, who had defender Jemma Purfield sent off in the first half.

Arsenal dominated early on with nobody able to add the finishing touch to a superb Nikita Parris cross before Miedema saw a stinging strike saved by goalkeeper Demi Lambourne in the opening ten minutes.

Leicester also spurned a golden chance to take the lead with Ashleigh Plumptre heading wide from a freekick, and they were quickly made to pay.

The breakthrough came in the 22nd minute, with Lambourne’s legs unable to stop Nobbs’ 15-yard effort going in.

The Gunners doubled their advantage 11 minutes later, with Miedema calmly slotting in from inside the six-yard box after Parris had darted into the box and played the ball across goal.

Leicester’s hopes further diminished shortly before half-time when Purfield was given her marching orders for fouling Parris just outside the penalty box.

Arsenal had further opportunities to extend their lead early in the second half, with Miedema and Parris both missing chances.

A well-deserved third came within the final ten minutes when Maanum headed in from a cross, and she scored an almost identical effort two minutes later to round off a comfortable night for the Gunners who remain unbeaten in the WSL.

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Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said: “I told the players I was satisfied with the highs in the game - I think they were really good.

“But I think we had too many lows in the game as well, we made some easy mistakes to give Leicester a few opportunities in the game as well, so I think we need to have higher standards.

“[The mistakes were defensively] or in possession, giving the ball away too easily.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge [the offsides] if Leicester wanted to play with a high defensive line.

“Our analyst before the game said that Manchester United in the Conti Cup ran offside, I think, seven times against them, in the beginning of the game.

“That’s a pretty high number so we were aware of that and I think when we had good moments in the game we timed the runs well.”

New Leicester manager Lydia Bedford said: “Based on that second half, I said to the girls at the end their resilience was fantastic.

“We spoke this week about being a family and sticking together for the rest of the season and I said to them at half time, ‘Now is your opportunity to put your money where your mouth is and work together as a team.’

“So we banked up, we worked hard and I was really, really pleased with that second-half performance.

“I think these girls want to prove to the league that they can climb this table, and that passion comes out on the pitch, which I’m pleased about - you want to see that energy and that’s what they were doing.

“I didn’t see her [Jemma Purfield] at half-time because the focus was on the rest of the group at that point but I’ve spoken to her since and reassured her that these things happen and together as a team we worked in the second half for her to show we could get through it.

“This week was about consistency with what they’ve done previously. Watching them go to a back four at the end, we’ve shown we can play with a back four.

“We will assess over the next few weeks what is right and we have an opportunity to work with the girls over Christmas and then we can start to make some changes if needed.

“Birmingham is obviously a big game but for us there’s 11 games left this season and all of them are big games, ones we want to try and get points in.

“This week will be about working towards Birmingham but beyond that we’ve got lots more opportunities to pick points up after Christmas.”

Arsenal XI: (4-3-3): Lydia Williams, Anna Patten, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Simone Boye, Katie McCabe, Lia Walti, Jordan Nobbs, Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead

Substitutes: Kim Little for Mead 60’, Viktoria Schnaderbeck for Boye 60’, Steph Catley for McCabe 60’, Frida Maanum for Miedema 71’, Teyah Goldie for Lotte Wubben-Moy 86’

Substitutes not used: Manuela Zinsburger, Fran Stenson, Jennifer Beattie, Caitlin Foord

Goals: Nobbs 22’, Miedema 33’, Maanum 81’, Maanum 83’

Bookings: Nobbs 90+2’

Leicester XI: (4-4-2): Demi Lambourne, Esme De Graaf, Georgia Brougham, Ashleigh Plumptre, Sophie Howard, Jemma Purfield, Sam Tierney, Sophie Barker, Jess Sigsworth, Natasha Flint, Shannon O’Brien

Substitutes: Molly Pike for Barker 55’, Mackenzie Smith for Sigsworth 61’,

Substitutes not used: Sophie Harris, Luana Zajmi, Charlotte Devlin, Abbi Grant

Bookings: Sigsworth 3’, O’Brien 6’, Tierney 82’, Plumptre 86’

Red Card: Purfield 43’

Referee: Emily Heaslip

Attendance: 1316


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