Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United: Red Devils now seven points adrift of race for Europe

In front of a sellout crowd at Emirates Stadium for the first time in the Barclays Women’s Super League, Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal eagerly awaited the visit of Manchester United – knowing that they could move 7 points clear of the Gunners with a win on Saturday.

ARS: D’Angelo; Catley, Codina, Wubben-Moy, McCabe; Wälti, Pelova; Lacasse, Little, Mead; Blackstenius

MUN: Earps; Evans, Turner, Le Tissier, Blundell; Zelem, Naalsund; García, Toone, Geyse; Parris

Manchester United looked to be the better side in the early stages of the action at Emirates Stadium, with Nikita Parris and Geyse in particular seeking to pile the pressure onto Sabrina D’Angelo – but that was the extent of the Red Devils early pressure.

They were quickly pounced upon by an Arsenal side that swiftly found a rhythm, forcing Gemma Evans and Millie Turner into a number of quality defensive clearances.

But when a Beth Mead corner delivery was swung into the box, the pair could merely stand and watch as an unfortunate deflection from Geyse sent the ball over the line – giving the visitors the unwanted task of coming from behind in front of a record-breaking 60,160 fans in N5.

They’d double their lead ten minutes before the break too, sending the vast majority of the Emirates Stadium into euphoria after a miscued Katie Zelem clearance within the box allowed Cloé Lacasse to slam home an uncontested header into an open goal.

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The mountain would only grow taller for United in the dying minutes of the half though, as Kim Little tucked away from the penalty spot after Evans had blatantly tripped Mead inside the penalty box. It was turning into quite a celebration for the Scottish international, who had collected her memorial shirt to honour her 300th appearance ahead of kickoff.

The Gunners came close to a dying a fourth just before the hour mark, as McCabe’s ball into the box was poked goalwards by Stina Blackstenius – albeit only into the arms of Mary Earps. The introduction of ex-Manchester United forward Alessia Russo would only serve to add more attacking firepower to Eidevall’s talented front line.

Prolonged stoppages in play as a result of injuries for both Steph Catley and Lia Wälti led to a lengthy period of additional time at Emirates Stadium – and it was deep in stoppage time that Lucia García capitalised on a corner taken quickly to reduce the deficit, slamming home into an open net at the back post.

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While Russo didn’t come back to haunt her former club, pressure continues to mount on Marc Skinner, as his Manchester United side now sit seven points adrift of the third and final qualifying spot for the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The Red Devils’ only remaining hope of silverware is the Adobe Women’s FA Cup, after their controversial elimination from the Conti Cup was confirmed a few weeks ago.

As for Arsenal, they move to within three points of both Chelsea and Manchester City – meaning that their clash at Stamford Bridge on 15 March could have the potential to decide the destination of the illustrious Barclays Women’s Super League trophy.