Arsenal maintain 100% WSL record as Wälti and Maanum see off Liverpool


Goals from the midfield pair of Lia Wälti and Frida Maanum helped take unbeaten Arsenal past Liverpool.

This could have been a banana‑skin game for the Gunners, sandwiched between two tricky Champions League group-stage fixtures, the first of which was a trip to the reigning champions, Lyon. Matt Beard’s Liverpool had stunned Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season, with two Katie Stengel penalties cancelling out Fran Kirby’s spot-kick.

The hope then was that a bruised or exhausted Arsenal — a side also missing their first‑choice centre‑back pairing of Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza — would face them at Prenton Park. Instead they met a side flying high, with Jonas Eidevall’s team having come away with a 5-1 win over Lyon, the French side’s biggest losing margin since 2006.

“It was tricky, it is tough to play a third away game within a week,” Eidevall told the BBC. “I like the heart we put on the pitch today. We work extremely hard for each other. We showed that we matched them and we were very good at expressing ourselves on the ball. That’s the difference.”

Liverpool’s hopes of reversing their league fortunes against the Gunners were quashed quickly. An unchanged Arsenal side, with the Norwegian midfielder Maanum keeping her place ahead of the Dutch record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema, were as slick on Merseyside as they were in France.

“Over the course of the game we did well but everything Arsenal touches at the moment turns to gold,” Beard told the BBC. “We’ve had a tough start to the season, we’ve played Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal, who all finished in the top five last year.”

Beard made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 away at Tottenham. The midfielders Missy Bo Kearns and Rachel Furness dropped to the bench and Ceri Holland and Meg Campbell started in their place.

After the shock victory against the champions Chelsea on the opening day, a worrying 3-0 home defeat against the derby rivals Everton followed, before the loss to Spurs last week.

It took 15 minutes for Arsenal to unpick the Liverpool defence. A corner was cleared by Niamh Fahey but it fell neatly for the defensive midfielder Wälti to the right of the box and she powered the ball into the far corner. Arsenal had won their past 28 games after scoring first and it seemed like that run would continue.

The home team were not without chances but they struggled to make things count in the final third and setting up with a back three left them vulnerable out wide. Six minutes after Wälti’s goal Maanum doubled Arsenal’s lead. Caitlin Foord found space down the left and slipped in the Norwegian, who breezed past Gilly Flaherty before firing past the goalkeeper, Rachel Laws, and in at the far post.

“It’s a pleasant headache, isn’t it? It’s also a really good sign for any player looking to see what you do when you don’t get opportunities,” Eidevall said of Maanum’s performances since returning to the starting lineup. “People remember when you play; they don’t remember when you’re not playing, so make it stick.”

In the second half there was a shift at the back for the home side, with four lined up to help stem the Arsenal flow down the wings. It was effective. Liverpool embarked on their best — albeit short — spell of the 90 minutes but they could not make enough of it andwas comfortable.

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Marta Lopez

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