Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham: Russo strike hands Gunners bragging rights in sold-out North London Derby

Having fallen to their first-ever North London Derby defeat in December, Arsenal returned to a sold-out Emirates Stadium on Sunday lunchtime to face the Lilywhites again – with Jonas Eidevall hoping for an ‘unwelcoming’ atmosphere in N5.

ARS: Zinsberger; Catley, Wubben-Moy, Codina, McCabe; Pelova, Wälti; Foord, Little, Mead; Russo

TOT: Spencer; Nildén, Bartrip, James-Turner, Neville; Summanen, Graham; Clinton, Bizet, Thomas; Naz

The Gunners looked to break forward with conviction from the very start of Sunday’s North London Derby, with a flurry of early Steph Catley corners looking to cause trouble for the Tottenham defence.

Alessia Russo should have turned one home with five minutes gone, but the England international could only flick her effort wide at the back post shortly before another delivery was hoofed away well by the visitors.

Arguably the best chance of the opening twenty minutes would fall in Spurs’ favour, although a darting run from Martha Thomas on the right flank ultimately resulted in a shot that was dealt with quite easily by Manuela Zinsberger.

Embed from Getty Images

The Lilywhites would continue to manufacture the better opportunities as the half-hour mark grew nearer, with a fine strike from Jess Naz catching Zinsberger off-guard and leaving the Austrian shotstopper breathing a sigh of relief after she managed to tip the effort onto the crossbar.

Promising work from Catley and Caitlin Foord on the left flank looked to be Arsenal’s best attacking outlet throughout the latter stages of the first half, but as the referee’s whistle signalled the start of the interval, there was nothing to separate the two teams.

It would be in the 49th minute that the Gunners finally opened the scoring, after looking dominant since emerging from the break. Bundling home into an open net after a scramble inside the box, Russo made amends for her earlier miss with a goal that would provisionally hand Arsenal the invaluable bragging rights.

Embed from Getty Images

As the match wore on, the hosts looked destined to double their tally – perhaps never more convincingly than when Katie McCabe attempted a desperate flick towards goal from close range in the 67th minute, only to see Rebecca Spencer deny her acrobatic effort.

With fifteen minutes remaining of regulation time, the crowd rose to their feet once again – albeit not to celebrate a goal. For the first time ever, Leah Williamson was introduced into the fray of a sold-out Emirates Stadium for the first time after missing both the VfL Wolfsburg and Manchester United fixtures through injury.

Arsenal once again demonstrated their ability to consistently draw sizeable crowds to N5 on matchday – and while the North London Derby did not break the WSL attendance record that they set a fortnight ago, 60,050 fans flooded through the turnstiles on Sunday afternoon.

Despite a late wave of Spurs pressure, seven additional minutes allowed Arsenal to see out a victory that moves them level on points with Chelsea – albeit temporarily as Emma Hayes’ Blues face Leicester City later this evening. Arsenal’s next outing sees them take on Aston Villa in the Conti Cup on Wednesday night, while Spurs now have a week of respite before hosting Manchester City in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup on March 10.