City suffered our first defeat of the Barclays Women's Super League season following a 2-1 loss at Arsenal.

Despite a bright start at Meadow Park, Gareth Taylor’s side conceded the first goal when Steph Catley rifled home against the run of play.

Things could’ve got worse for the visitors when the Gunners were awarded a penalty soon after, but Khiara Keating superbly saved Kim Little’s effort from 12-yards.

In an intense tactical battle between two WSL title rivals, City deservedly equalised midway through the second half when Chloe Kelly netted against her former employers.

But, cruelly, Jonas Eidevall’s side restored their lead late on through Stina Blackstenius after Keating misjudged a ball over the City defence.

WHAT HAPPENED 

City made a fast start back in April when the sides last met, with Bunny breaking the deadlock after five minutes in the eventual 2-1 defeat.

And it was the Gareth Taylor‘s side who started brightly once again with the Jamaican striker fizzing an effort into the grateful hands of Manuela Zinsberger, before Kelly trickled a shot just wide from the edge of the area.

But, against the run of play, Arsenal took the lead when they sparked a quick counter attack and switched the ball to Catley, who fired into the top corner with a clinical side-foot finish.

Buoyed by their opener, the hosts were awarded a penalty shortly after when Cloe Lacasse was brought down by Keating when the forward nicked the ball just before our keeper went to clear.

However, our youngster made amends by producing a fantastic save to her left to tip Kim Little’s spot kick onto the post before Alanna Kennedy cleared the danger.

It represented the next highlight of a wonderful season so far for the 19-year-old who was called up to her first senior England squad for the October international break.

City weathered an Arsenal storm after their opener and grew back into the match which saw us create two great chances before the break.

Jill Roord, who played for the Gunners between 2019 and 2021, struck a powerful effort from the edge of the area which Zinsberger parried before Kelly’s recycled cross was met by Lauren Hemp at the back post, but the ball bounced off the crossbar.

Kelly was a product of the hosts’ youth system and she continued our strong momentum after interval when she burst into the box but curled her effort just wide of Arsenal’s goalkeeper’s left post. 

Similarly to that of the first half, Taylor’s team continued to create chances with our latest falling to the feet of Bunny who twisted and turned on the edge of the area before rifling just wide.

The striker started to stretch the Arsenal backline and came agonisingly close to finding an equaliser in the 60th minute when Hemp dinked a teasing ball into the box where Bunny’s header came back off the post. 

Each time these sides meet the 90 minutes are evenly-contested affairs with a single goal separating the sides in the past three encounters. 

The latest instalment between the two WSL title rivals proved to be no different, but we were rewarded for our attacking intent with 18 minutes remaining when Kelly showed her poacher’s instinct to fire home after the ball broke to her inside the area following a dangerous cross.

Following our leveller, Taylor’s side pushed for a winner and looked likely to find it with the hosts pinned in their final third. 

But a ball over the top from Arsenal to alleviate pressure evaded our defence and the flight caught Keating out, allowing Blackstenius to pass into an empty net. 

City didn’t allow the disappointment of conceding against the run of play again to blunt our attacking intent, and Fowler forced Zinsberger to tip over the bar deep into stoppage time.

However, another equaliser was out of reach before the full-time whistle.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Chloe kelly

A constant thorn in Arsenal’s side, Kelly produced a characteristically superb display at Meadow Park. 

The England international was a threat from all areas of the pitch with dangerous corners and our deserved equalising goal.

HOW WE LINED UP

Khiara Keating was in-between the sticks and protected by a back four of Esme Morgan, Alanna Kennedy, Laia Aleixandri and Leila Ouahabi.

Yui Hasegawa anchored our midfield three behind Mary Fowler on the left of the engine room and Jill Roord on the right.

And Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw led the line in-between Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly who operated on either wing.

Arsenal XI: Zinsberger, Wubben-Moy, Catley (Beattie 90’), Little, Walti, McCabe, Foord (Maritz 90’), Pelova (Maanum 60’), Russo, Lacasse (Mead 60’), Ilestedt.

Unused substitutes: D’Angelo, Miedema, Hirtig, Blackstenius, Cooney-Cross.

City XI: Keating, Morgan (Casparij 62’), Kennedy, Aleixandri, Ouahabi (Blakstad 62’), Hasegawa, Fowler, Roord, Kelly (Park 89’), Bunny, Hemp (Castellanos 89’).

Unused substitutes: MacIver, Houghton, Coombs, Angeldahl, Mace.

WHAT IT MEANS

The defeat at Meadow Park is our first of the term, but Taylor’s team still sit second in the league table on 10 points.

FA WSL
1 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 18 15 1 2 49 12 37 46 WWWWW
2 Chelsea FC Chelsea Chelsea 17 14 1 2 50 14 36 43 WLWWW
3 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 18 13 1 4 42 18 24 40 LWWLW
Last updated: 14 April 2024

WHAT’S NEXT

Next up for City is a trip to Liverpool in the Continental Cup on Wednesday 8 November, with kick-off at Prenton Park scheduled for 19:00 (UK).

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