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Match report: Arsenal women 1 – 1 Manchester United women

by Zoe Hodges

Marc Skinner’s Manchester United have bounced back from their mid-week defeat with a draw on the road at Arsenal in the league.

Arsenal came into the game leaders of the WSL, whilst United were sitting in third. With the Lionesses’ head coach, Sarina Wiegman, watching on, it was set to be a good tie that could go either way.

It was new signing Diane Caldwell’s debut for the club whilst Signe Bruun got her first start since joining on deadline day.

Arsenal were pressing high and it was almost a nervy start for goalkeeper Mary Earps, who almost got caught in possession but her footwork was good as she switched direction and found her defender.

The first shot came from United within the opening ten minutes, Ona Batlle with the strike that was parried away unconvincingly by Zinsberger.

United kept up the momentum as Alessia Russo found space in the box as skipper Katie Zelem delivered a corner towards the far post. Unmarked, Russo rose up to head it into the back of the net. It was almost identical to the goal she scored against the Gunners in the Conti Cup quarter final.

Arsenal were desperate to get back into it straight away, and it was a shot from Miedema that almost levelled things up, but Earps made a fantastic save to push it onto the crossbar.

It was end-to-end stuff, and United won another corner. This time it was Galton who rose to meet it but this time it flew over the bar.

It was former United player, Tobin Heath’s turn to have a go next as she took a shot from the edge of the box but it was just off target.

Arsenal were beginning to knock on the door, could United ride out this spell of possession?

On the half hour mark, Arsenal had a free-kick in a dangerous area but United were alive to the attack and defended it well.

Another corner was floated in by Zelem and Ladd won the header but glanced it wide.

Arsenal came out in the second half having turned things up a notch. Within the opening two minutes Jen Beattie had the chance to equalise but luckily Russo got back and defended well.

Earps again kept United in it as Kim Little put in a cross which fell to Caitlin Foord, who had come on for Heath at half time. She struck and Earps made a fantastic diving save to her left to deny Arsenal.

Toone had a golden opportunity to double United’s lead, Galton springing a counter attack played a lovely ball in to Toone who found herself one on one with the keeper. She hit it early though and everyone was surprised to see it go wide.

A nasty challenge from McCabe saw Batlle hit the deck. She was already on a yellow and the ref showed her another. Arsenal were down to ten.

However, Miedema saw Blackstenius’ run and played a through ball to her. She was one on one with Earps who had had a brilliant game but despite getting a hand to it, Arsenal drew level.

With ten minutes left to play United had a task on their hands to at least hold on for a point.

Seven minutes of injury time ensued with United pressing high. But the Gunners were desperate to get something from the game too.

The full time whistle blew and the points were shared. United would have been happy with that before the game began but after going ahead and having chances to put the game to bed, they felt disappointed they didn’t take all three points.

Team: Earps, Blundell, Caldwell, Thorisdottir, Batlle, Russo (Groenen 73), Zelem, Ladd, Toone, Galton, Bruun (Thomas 73)

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