Soccer  

Arsenal aiming to extend record winning run – but how do you beat them?

Arsenal celebrate after scoring against Tottenham at the Emirates
Arsenal have won their previous four Women’s Super League matches at the Emirates
Venue: Emirates Stadium Date: Saturday, 19 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen on 5 Sports Extra and follow live text on BBC Sport website and app

Arsenal are already on a record-breaking run in the Women’s Super League, and they head into Saturday’s match at Emirates Stadium looking to extend that winning streak to 15 matches.

Standing in their way are a Manchester United side hoping to demonstrate their own title credentials.

It will be a monumental task for the visitors to get anything against a team who have kept 12 clean sheets during their winning run and only been beaten four times in 2022.

Here we take a closer look at those four defeats, which have all come in different competitions, to see what Marc Skinner’s side can learn from the victors.

17 April: Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea – FA Cup semi-final

Arsenal went into the match hoping to make amends for their thrashing at the hands of Chelsea in the delayed FA Cup final at Wembley four months earlier.

But they fell short. with Chelsea scoring two second-half goals through Guro Reiten and Ji So-yun to book their place in the final.

Arsenal had started well – pressing from the front and asking questions of Chelsea with runs in behind – but they failed to make the most of some promising positions.

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side came out the blocks fast in the second half, though, and put away their chances when it mattered as they went on to control the game.

“Chelsea came out and dominated, got their goals and we didn’t see a response from Arsenal,” former England midfielder Fara Williams said of their performance after the interval.

Arsenal were second best in terms of possession and chances created, with Jonas Eidevall’s side not managing a shot on target during the entire game.

Ex-Leeds striker Lucy Ward said Chelsea were “deserved winners”, describing them as “ruthless in the second half, pouncing on any mistake”. She added: “Chelsea have done a job on Arsenal; they’ve won their battles.”

31 March: Wolfsburg 2-0 Arsenal – Champions League quarter-final second leg

Jill Roord scores against Arsenal
Arsenal won the Champions League for the only time in 2007 and last reached the semi-finals nine years ago

Arsenal had reached the quarter-finals despite losing three of their six group games, and they never looked like knocking out the eventual Frauen Bundesliga champions.

This 2-0 second-leg victory meant they progressed 3-1 on aggregate.

Wolfsburg were the stronger, more physical team, and managed 17 shots, compared to eight from the Gunners.

“They man-marked us and were very aggressive,” Eidevall said post-match. “We expected that but we were disappointed we didn’t find the tactical balance.”

Captain Kim Little added: “I think Wolfsburg were strong in the press. We gave away too much, especially in attack.”

Former Gunner Jill Roord opened the scoring after just nine minutes and it was an Arsenal player on the scoresheet for Wolfsburg’s second, with Leah Williamson poking the ball into her own net.

Former Wolfsburg defender Josephine Henning told the Uefa websiteexternal-link the German side’s strong start was crucial to their victory.

“They got into the game well in the first 20 minutes, pressed early and the pressing worked,” she said. “As a result, they gained more and more self-confidence, carried it through the whole half and therefore deservedly left the field as winners.”

19 January: Arsenal 0-1 Manchester United – League Cup quarter-final

Alessia Russo celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Arsenal
Manchester United’s win at Meadow Park last season in the League Cup came a month before they also earned a point there in the WSL

Manchester United were the only side to avoid defeat at Arsenal in the Women’s Super League last season – drawing 1-1 – but they went one better in the League Cup in January.

Alessia Russo grabbed a late winner to give United a 1-0 victory and dump the Gunners out in the quarter-finals.

The England striker, who later became a household name with her audacious backheel at Euro 2022, went unchallenged as she headed in a free-kick in the 85th minute.

The Gunners had the majority of possession but couldn’t create chances and they had just one shot on target compared to United’s four.

This defeat came during a bad run of form for Eidevall’s side as United inflicted a fifth defeat in six games in all competitions.

Russo told her club website the win was all about confidence.

“The biggest credit to the girls out there tonight is that not only did we always believe we were going to score, we also believed that we were never going to concede,” she said.

“The belief and the fight and the drive of the team was there from minute one. As a team we back each other and believe in one another and when you come into a game that’s the most important thing.”

9 January: Birmingham 2-0 Arsenal – Women’s Super League

Birmingham City celebrate after scoring against Arsenal
Birmingham ended an 805-day winless league run at home with their 2-0 win over Arsenal in January

It was all the way back on 9 January that Arsenal were last beaten in the league – a defeat widely seen as the match which cost them the title by one point.

Birmingham City, then bottom of the table, caused the biggest upset of the season as they brought the Gunners’ unbeaten start to their WSL campaign to a shuddering halt with a deserved 2-0 victory.

Arsenal, who had scored 66 goals in 22 games in all competitions, were well contained by Birmingham, who had netted just four league goals before their visit.

Arsenal dominated the ball, having 68% possession but they couldn’t find a way through the Blues’ defence. They had just two shots on target while Birmingham had seven.

Blues manager Darren Carter said: “When you come up against a team like Arsenal, you’re asking [the players] to do an awful lot of hard work off the ball, and then you’ve got to ride your luck a little bit.

“Over the course of it Arsenal had a couple of chances, we had to put our bodies on the line and get blocks in.”

Former England defender Anita Asante also praised the Blues’ work-rate, saying: “Birmingham were dogged for 90 minutes, worked hard for each other and they took their chances and were clinical.”

Arsenal’s manager felt their performance left a lot to be desired.

“We clearly didn’t defend situations as a team,” said Eidevall.

“Some players were sprinting, some players jogging and some were walking into position. Even when we had the ball, we were so spread out as a team.”

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