The Gunners had to manage without two of their star players for their first WSL game coming back from the most recent October international break.
No Leah Williamson, Rafaelle injured- no problem for Arsenal who proved they have another side to their armoury after Jonas Eidevall’s side discover WSL title advantage after a narrow 1-0 Reading victory.
Despite not converting a flurry of chances, a solo moment of magic from striker Stina Blackstenius coupled with the resilience shown by goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger, who broke the WSL record on Sunday night for the most consecutive FA WSL clean sheets (9), was enough as the Gunner stumbled over the line in Berkshire.
Emma Harries and Natasha Dowie nearly handed Chelsea and Man United a much-needed favour but the Austrian continued to prove why she may be the best shot-stopper in the league currently. She wasn’t called upon too often in the first half as back-ups Lotte Wubben-Moy and Steph Catley stood up to the challenge in the absence of the injured and key duo of Leah Williamson and Rafaelle.
Both are expected to spend some time out on the sidelines with different injury concerns. The Lionesses captain picked up a mystery injury early on during training for Sarina Wiegman’s side whilst the Brazilian was a victim of the Ajax win in Amsterdam.
Wubben-Moy and Catley stood up fairly well against so-called lower opposition but once Kelly Chambers took the shackles off her players, problems emerged defensively for a side who do possess strength in depth but that quality of personnel is set to be tested further once a Man Utd, Chelsea or Man City face up against Eidevall’s injury-hit outfit.
Nevertheless, despite the few shaky moments shown during the latter stages of the contest at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, the Swedish manager eased any worries as he pointed out a key factor which will help his side in the defensive sense, in the face of adversity- partnerships!
“I think that all players individually that we played today were great players but partnerships in football requires time,” he told pitch side. “Because of the international break, we only had two practices then went out to play.
“So, when you are restricted in time, you always know that’s a factor in football. You have all this communication and understanding of each other, in offence and in defence and you cannot take that for granted in football.