Read Women’s 0-1 Arsenal Women: Stina Blackstenius’ first-half strike seals all three points for Jonas Eidevall’s side as they joint top of the WSL… as Royals search for first win
- Blackstenius broke the deadlock with a neat finish from the edge of the box
- Kim Little saw her spot kick saved, but it didn’t matter to the Gunners in the end
- Jonas Eidevall’s team moves to the top of the WSL together with Manchester United
- While the Royals are still looking for their first league win of the campaign
She say that attack is the best form of defense. Arsenal, without their two first-choice centre-backs, could have done with their forwards being more clinical. They beat Reading 1-0 thanks to Stina Blackstenius’ strike in the first half, but it could and should have been more.
This wasn’t Arsenal at their best, but they showed enough guts to take this narrow win and collectively rise to the top of the Women’s Super League.The build-up of this match focused on how the Gunners would manage without their partnership with Leah Williamson and Rafaelle as centre-backs.
Both contributed to their strong start to the season and Arsenal’s run of eight WSL free sheets leading up to last night. That record now stands at nine, but the new coupling of Lotte Wubben-Moy and Steph Catley still needs work.
Stina Blackstenius has secured all three points for Arsenal with her first-half strike
The Swede took her second goal of the campaign with a neatly finished finish
The Gunners are at the top of the WSL after three games, level with Manchester United
A mistake by Wubben-Moy almost gave Reading an equaliser, while the hosts got a late wave of chances that they failed to convert. There is no doubt that Arsenal’s defense will be put to the test when they play Champions League winner Lyon on Wednesday.
Losing Williamson to injury last season arguably cost Arsenal the title. The worst part about this blow is that it came just after central defender Rafaelle was out for several weeks due to a foot injury he sustained against Ajax.
Williamson, who was injured during England training, was seen on crutches and wearing a protective boot as he watched the Lionesses’ victory over the US from the stands. She does not require surgery, but will miss next month’s international matches. Rafaelle won’t need surgery either, but both players will be sidelined for up to a month.
The good thing for Arsenal is that they won’t play against Chelsea until after the winter break, but they will have Manchester United in shape immediately after the next international match.
Lotte Wubben-Moy (right) was called into the starting eleven due to injuries in the team
Here, however, they had little to defend, especially in the first half. Blackstenius should have put Arsenal ahead within 25 seconds when played on goal by Catley, but the striker’s effort was too close to Reading goalkeeper Jackie Burns, who crashed hard to save.
Laura Wienroither was the next to miss a golden opportunity by firing a cross from Caitlin Foord near the back post. After half an hour the impasse was finally broken. Kim Little put Blakstenius on the edge of the box and she turned neatly before firing into the bottom left corner.
Vivianne Miedema nearly doubled Arsenal’s lead shortly after half-time when she forced Burns to a low save before the Gunners hit the post twice. First a cross from Katie McCabe was deflected in the direction of the goal, then Blackstenius headed the resulting corner against the woodwork.
Kim Little saved her penalty after Lily Woodham handled the ball in the area
Reading had failed to get a shot in the first 55 minutes, but a long ball over the top nearly undone the new Arsenal defence. Wubben-Moy could only head the ball in the direction of Emma Harries, but the striker’s shot was saved by Manuela Zinsberger’s legs.
Arsenal then had another chance to make it 2-0 when referee Louise Saunders awarded the visitors a penalty after Lily Woodham blocked a cross from Beth Mead with her hand. Little got up, but her effort was tame and Burns went to the right to make the save.
Reading almost bizarrely equalized when Woodham’s corner hit the top of the bar. But their best chance came when Amalie Eikeland’s cross found Natasha Dowie in the penalty area. The striker didn’t get enough power behind her shot and Zinsberger saved with her feet. Frida Maanum then wiped a header from Justine Vanhaevermaet off the line. Arsenal held their ground, just. But tougher tests are coming.
Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger took the Player of the Match award