Arsenal 3-0 Leicester City: Maanum returns as Arsenal stun the Foxes in N5

Arsenal remain six points adrift of Manchester City at the helm of the Barclays Women’s Super League table, despite recording a 3-0  victory over Leicester City at Emirates Stadium. 42,820 fans flooded through the turnstiles on a chilly afternoon, ensuring Arsenal’s cumulative home attendance in the WSL this season surpasses the 280k mark.

Leicester City were defeated just up the road last weekend, crashing out of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup after a loss to Tottenham Hotspur, and Jennifer Foster’s side would have been keen to record a statement win in N5.

Throughout the first half, they looked capable of doing so – Manuela Zinsberger was forced to produce a plethora of high-quality saves to deny Yuka Momiki and Sam Tierney, but it was ultimately Beth Mead’s strike just before the half-hour mark that sent the Gunners on their way to victory.

A quickfire double midway through the second half added to the convincing nature of the performance, but Jonas Eidevall’s side remain third in the league table with three games left to play.

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As it happened

With Leicester City keen to avoid falling to consecutive defeats in North London after their semifinal loss in N17 last weekend, Jenni Foster’s side found themselves under the cosh from the very start of Sunday’s 14:00 kickoff at Emirates Stadium.

Beth Mead and Stina Blackstenius looked to be a formidable pairing, the duo both creating chances for each other inside the opening ten minutes – but clearances from Sophie Howard and Yuka Momiki ensured the Foxes’ clean sheet remained intact.

Manuela Zinsberger would be put to work as the 20-minute mark approached, producing a stunning save as Momiki drove into space and unleashed a thunderous effort destined for the top right corner.

The majority of the 42,820-strong crowd would rise to their feet just before the half-hour mark however, as a moment of magic saw the Gunners take the lead when Mead slammed past Lize Kop. Neat work from Victoria Pelova teed up Caitlin Foord on the edge of the area, the Australian selflessly playing Mead through on goal.

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But Zinsberger would arguably be the busier keeper of the first half, called upon again as the interval neared to deny a fierce Sam Tierney effort after Deanne Rose flicked on from a Momiki cross.

Arsenal enjoyed a brighter start to the second half, testing Kop’s abilities between the sticks. The Dutch goalkeeper coped well, denying Foord and twice preventing Emily Fox from working her way onto the scoresheet – but as the clock ticked into the 75th minute, she was rendered helpless when Alessia Russo doubled the Arsenal advantage.

Steph Catley latched onto a clearance in midfield, driving forwards through the centre of the park before teeing up Russo, with the ex-Manchester United forward burying past Kop from inside the box with a remarkable composure.

But the Foxes would start to come undone there. Just three minutes after the Gunners doubled their lead, Mead added a third – reacting instinctively to slam the rebound into the back of the net after Kop had done well to smother Russo’s initial header from a Victoria Pelova cross.

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But despite a convincing win in N5, the loudest cheers of the afternoon were reserved for Frida Maanum, with the Norwegian replacing Blackstenius in the 66th minute to make her first appearance since a concerning collapse at Molineux last month in the Conti Cup final.

She was afforded an excellent opportunity to add a fourth goal as the clock ticked into seven minutes of stoppage time, but blazed her effort just wide of the near post.

The lineups

ARS: Zinsberger; McCabe, Catley, Williamson, Fox; Little, Pelova; Foord, Russo, Mead; Blackstenius

LEI: Kop; Cayman, Howard, Thibaud, Bott; Takarada; Rantala, Momiki, Tierney, Rose; Petermann