Despite both teams possessing talented lineups with quality players, it took Arsenal only four minutes to take advantage of suspect defending by Everton. Beth Mead — who was one of Arsenal’s top performers — picked up the ball on the right wing, motored past Danielle Turner and hit a low cross into the box, finding Jordan Nobbs who had slipped in between center-backs Damaris Egurrola and Megan Finnigan.
After Nobbs’ opening score, Everton managed to keep Arsenal out for just under six minutes —in the 10th minute, Jill Roord broke free on the right wing after taking advantage of poor positioning by Turner and a slow reaction from Damaris. The Dutch international spotted a red shirt at the back post and sent a pristine pass that found its way to Caitlin Foord, who slashed the ball back across the face of goal and past Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver.
Of the few chances Everton managed to generate — the Toffees finished with a paltry one effort on target — it was no surprise that Hayley Raso and Nicoline Sørensen were involved. Despite benefitting from several moments of lackadaisical defensive play on Arsenal’s part, Raso and Sørensen were wasteful in their opportunities and never truly troubled Arsenal keeper Lydia Williams.
Even though Everton trailed 2–0, they were the superior team as play resumed. The Toffees dictated possession and looked threatening going forward. With not even a shot on goal as reward for their hard work, Arsenal weathered Everton’s attack and, with a two-goal lead, were comfortably in control for the remainder of the contest.
In the 59th, Nobbs picked the pocket of Finnigan inside Everton’s 18 and laid a pass into the stride of Roord, who took a shot that was brilliantly dealt with by MacIver. Despite her denial of Roord, MacIver was unable to keep Arsenal from scoring on the ensuing corner kick: Jennifer Beattie was left unmarked at the back post and was afforded a free header after MacIver missed the ball.
Arsenal took advantage of a stretched Everton team just three minutes after Beattie put her team up three. In the 63rd, it took Mead — who was looking to etch her name on the score sheet — one touch to settle a diagonal pass, one dip of the shoulder to get past Poppy Pattinson and one curling left-footed effort to slot the ball past a fully-outstretched MacIver to bring Arsenal’s lead to four.
And while Arsenal continued to threaten, MacIver ensured that the Gunners would not get a fifth tally. With the final seconds ticking off the game clock, second-half substitute Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah saw a shot ring off the woodwork, a goal that would have been nothing more than a consolation prize. Clearly outside the top tier of the Super League, Everton have the talent to challenge the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, it’s just about finding the right rhythm.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The moment of the match comes from captain Lucy Graham, who herself had a quiet contest. Nearing the end of a difficult defeat to a marvelous opponent, Graham was encouraging her team and continuing to be vocal on the pitch. In the face of a disheartening 4–0 loss, Graham attempted to lift her teammates and close out the game — all the characteristics of a world-class leader.
1. Sandy MacIver
While conceding four goals may seem to reflect porous play, MacIver made only one error and kept Arsenal from scoring at least two additional goals. Aside from a missed punch, which resulted in an open header for Beattie, MacIver watched as Arsenal sent three magnificent shots past her and into the net. MacIver did superbly to keep Roord, Little and Foord from scoring and prevented Arsenal from running up the score.
2. Ingrid Moe Wold
A staple in the Everton side through nine games, Moe Wold has brought experience and stability to the Everton back four. Against Arsenal, Wold was composed when in possession and strong when defending. One of the few players to move Everton up the pitch on Sunday, Wold is an integral member of this Everton side.
3. Megan Finnigan
Some early defensive miscues notwithstanding, Finnigan is one of the brightest young defenders in the Super League. Having displayed a penchant for self-correcting after committing defensive errors, Finnigan has helped Everton keep a positive goal differential. She also has shown an adaptability to adjust her game to play with different partners in the heart of Everton’s defense.
Everton (4-3-3): 1-Sandy MacIver; 2-Ingrid Moe Wold, 3-Danielle Turner, 12-Damaris Egurrola, 20-Megan Finnigan; 8-Izzy Christiansen, 21-Maéva Clemaron; 16-Hayley Raso, 17-Lucy Graham, 26-Grace Clinton; 14-Nicoline Sørensen
Substitutes: 30-Poppy Pattinson for Turner 46, 7-Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah for Sørensen 72, 15-Molly Pike for Raso 72
Unused Substitutes: 10-Simone Magill, 13-Abbey-Leigh Stringer, 23-Tinja-Riikka Korpela
Arsenal (4-3-3): 18-Lydia Williams; 5-Jennifer Beattie, 6-Leah Williamson, 15-Katie McCabe, 17-Lisa Evans; 10-Kim Little, 14-Jill Roord, 21-Malin Gut; 8-Jordan Nobbs, 9-Beth Mead, 19-Caitlin Foord
Substitutes: 13-Lia Wälti for Gut 62, 7-Danielle Van de Donk for Roord 72, 11-Vivianne Miedema for Foord 72, 20-Leonie Maier for McCabe 79
Unused Substitutes: 1-Manuela Zinsberger, 24-Fran Stenson
Goals: Nobbs 4, Foord 10, Beattie 61, Mead 63