Arsenal Women enjoy victory at Villa

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema (left) is congratulated by Jill Roord

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema (left) is congratulated by Jill Roord after a goal - Credit: PA

Arsenal picked up their first win of 2021when  beating Aston Villa 4-0 away from home to close the gap on the Champions League places.

The win moves the Gunners to within six points of Manchester United in third place and the side from North London still have a game in hand over the Red Devils. 

Beth Mead had an early chance to break the deadlock as she raced into the box before her effort at the near post was saved by the legs of Villa keeper Lisa Weiss. 

Arsenal were very much the team on top and had another opening via Jill Roord as she drove forward before sending a strike on goal which Weiss held with ease.

Mead, who was a late call-up to the England squad for their clash with Northern Ireland last Tuesday, was finding space at ease and on 14 minutes she drilled a shot wide from outside the box. 

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Joe Montemurro's side were moving the ball well and with intent and on 25 minutes they had a good opportunity when Jordan Nobbs played a beautiful sweeping pass out to Noelle Maritz whose low cross was well blocked by Nat Haigh. 

The Gunners, in their change blue strip, were causing Villa problems with their movement and won a free-kick just outside the box but Mead fired over the top. 

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Roord then had another good chance to finally break the deadlock for the Gunners as she found some space before spinning and her low effort was well held by Weiss in the Villa goal.

Katie McCabe forced Weiss into a great save when she fired a strike in from range that took a heavy deflection and the keeper made a superb reaction stop. 

The teams would go in at the break on level terms after a positive half for the Gunners, who just could not break down a solid Aston Villa back-line.

Arsenal began the second half the same way as they ended the first, on top, as Vivianne Miedema cut inside before fizzing a strike over from outside the box in what was her first real sight of goal in the game. 

Miedema then had another good opportunity as she met a cross before clipping it over the top of the bar from close range, disappointed she didn't hit the target. 

Villa had their first sight of goal when Mana Iwabuchi played a pass forward for Stine Larsen but the Danish striker fired over the top of the crossbar. 

Montemurro's side then had a huge chance to go ahead when Danielle van de Donk got on the end of a Mead cross but from close range she volleyed over the crossbar when she should have scored. 

However, on 58 minutes Arsenal did take the lead when Mead crossed the ball low into the area and Miedema made an intelligent run across the near post and flicked into the net. 

With the deadlock broken Arsenal were hungry for more and Nobbs had a go from range but Weiss did well to react and tip the ball over the top with a magnificent reaction save. 

Nobbs did make it 2-0 in the 66th minute when Mead won the ball from Freya Gregory before playing in Roord who quickly laid the ball off for Miedema who saw her effort saved by Weiss before Nobbs slotted the ball into the empty net. 

Montemurro then made his first change of the game as Miedema was replaced by Caitlin Foord who was returning from a knee injury in the 71st minute. 

And Arsenal made the game safe when McCabe made it 3-0 with a stunning strike from range, with the Republic of Ireland captain picking the ball up 25 yards out before thumping her effort into the top corner beyond the helpless Weiss in the home goal. 

Montemurro decided to make a double change with Lisa Evans and Leonie Maier replacing Roord and van de Donk with less than 15 minutes remaining. 

Mead could have had her goal as she won the ball just outside the area but fizzed her effort just wide of the target. 

With 10 minutes to go the Gunners made two further changes as Anna Patten and Lotte Wubben-Moy replaced Jennifer Beattie and Maritz. 

Arsenal then claimed their fourth in the 87th minute when McCabe whipped in a cross for Evans and she made no mistake, heading beyond Weiss and into the back of the net to complete the scoring. 

Arsenal: Williams, Maritz (Patten 80), Williamson, Beattie (Wubben-Moy 80), McCabe, van de Donk (Maier 76), Walti, Roord (Evans 76), Nobbs, Mead, Miedema (Foord 71).

Unused subs: Zinsberger, Gut, Stenson.

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