6th November 2023
The final weekend of January was the 16th week of Women’s Super League fixtures, so I took the opportunity to go to Prenton Park, home of Liverpool Women’s Football Club to watch them face Arsenal for the second time this season. I was able to watch them when they met for the first weekend of the season at the Emirates Stadium and Liverpool came out on top with a 1-nil win.
This was a must-win match for Arsenal as they attempted to stay in medal contention but with Liverpool climbing the table and the promise in their performance when they met last there was potential for either team in this clash. However, under the lights of Prenton Park, whilst Liverpool did hold their own, they were unable to rival Arsenal’s excellent midfield and fast-paced attack.
It is well known in the women’s sporting community that the Arsenal women’s supporters club have an unrivalled presence and they were out in full force tonight, chanting over an hour before kick-off. The Liverpool supporters could also be heard throughout the stadium and the atmosphere was set and the crowd were truly ready to go when the match started.
The match began with a free kick in the 9th minute, followed by an injury to Liverpool’s goalkeeper Rachel Laws in the 12th, however, despite a slow start to the game and several near misses, both teams began to get into the flow of things. In the 19th minute, Melissa Lawley of LFC received a yellow card; the only booking of the first half.
Liverpool certainly held their own in the first half with a strong defence blocking a number of Arsenal shots on target, however, it was evident that Arsenal were the stronger side with greater possession and attempts. The referee added 2 minutes to the end of the first half; however, this did little to change the nil-nil score, despite several attempts by Arsenal.
Both sides remained the same as the second-half whistle blew, however, as the match progressed, Eidievall’s side certainly seemed snappier on the ball and eager to overturn their previous loss to the Liverpool side. Perhaps it was the change in direction, as the Arsenal side were now driving towards the packed away stand which certainly hadn’t weakened in voice during the halftime break. In the 57th minute, Yana Daniels received a booking for a bad foul, prompting her substitution for Sophie Haug in the 60th minute.
The 60th minute also saw the first Arsenal goal scored by Vivianne Miedema and assisted by new January signing Emily Fox. This was Miedema’s first goal in 413 days and since her return from injury; the away stand erupted as fans commended her long-awaited return. The 69th minute saw another Arsenal goal this time scored by Caitlin Foord, further celebration ensued.
There were then several Liverpool changes, in Beard’s attempt to silence the now raucous Arsenal crowd. Fresh legs came in the form of, Jenna Clarke who replaced Grace Fisk, Emma Koivisto for Mellisa Lawley, Mia Enderby for Shanice van de Sanden and Marie-Therese Hobinger for Sophie Lundgaard. The Arsenal side also took the opportunity to make some substitutions; long-standing Captain Kim Little made her 301st cap coming on for goal scorer Vivianne Miedema, Stina Blackstenius for Alessia Russo and Steph Catley coming on for first-half captain Katie McCabe. As she was coming off the pitch Katie McCabe received a yellow card for time-wasting meaning that she will miss the next WSL match for Arsenal where they will face West Ham.
The last ten minutes of the match saw a booking to Liverpool’s Emma Koivisto, in the 80th minute and two final Arsenal substitutions in the form of Cloe Lacasse for Beth Mead and Frida Maanum coming on in place of Victoria Pelova, as Arsenal made one final attempt to solidify their win. There was hope that Lioness captain Leah Williamson might come on as she made her debut in Arsenal’s continental cup match against Leicester City last Wednesday, but despite being on the matchday sheet, she remained on the bench for the match. An injury to Liverpool goalkeeper Rachel Laws caused a 90th-minute delay, and the match extended by 6 minutes of extra time. In the 93rd minute Jasmine Matthews for Liverpool received a booking and with that Arsenal’s very chilly victory drew to a close.
The Arsenal was in full force post-match, celebrating the win, manager Eidevall’s 41st birthday and 100th match with the team. Emily Fox, Arsenal’s midfielder received Player of the Match, after her fantastic performance, playing all 90 minutes of the match, consolidated with her flawless assist to Vivianne Miedema’s goal which set Arsenal ahead in the 60th minute.
After the 16th weekend of the 23/24 WSL, London rivals Chelsea retain their top spot in the league followed by Manchester City who Arsenal are tied with on points separated by goal difference. Liverpool sit in a comfortable fifth place and at this moment are looking very strong and will not be vulnerable to demotion as the season draws to a close. This Arsenal side has certainly come into their own as the season has played out and with the likes of Viviena Miedema, Beth Mead and Leah Williamson all returning from ACL injuries the team is seeming to be stronger than ever as we enter the second half of the season.
For from us on sport Click Here!
For all things Liverpool Guild Student Media Click Here!
All images belong to Alisia William.