Arsenal Ladies’ hopes of retaining their WSL title faded on Sunday after another goalless draw against fellow title challengers Bristol Academy.
The Gunners are now three points behind the Merseysiders and now have to rely on them losing at least one of their final two games. Both sides have just two games remaining, Arsenal host Birmingham next Sunday before finishing with a trip to Everton. Liverpool also play their local rivals before hosting Bristol on the final day.
Shelley Kerr was forced to make one change to the side that started against Lincoln. Emma Byrne picked up an injury in training on Friday so she was replaced by Cherie Rowlands, making her debut in goal.
It was the fourth time the teams have met in this campaign. On this occasion it was a game that both sides simply had to win to stay in touch with the leaders.
Despite dominating possession on Thursday, the Gunners couldn't find their goalscoring touch in the final and it was a similar story on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts were the quickest to settle and should have taken the lead in the fourth minute. Danielle Carter picked the ball up on the right edge of the area and curled a cross into Ellen White who was unmarked in the six-yard box but could only send her header over.
Bristol, much like Lincoln, seemed content to crowd Arsenal out in the final third and then catch them on the break. The visitors created little of note in the opening half as Arsenal continued to look solid at the back. Natalia Pablos sent a drive from the edge of the area over in the 25th minute.
In the 28th minute Steph Houghton beat her marker to meet Kim Little’s corner but her header was tipped over Siobhan Chamberlain as the Gunners started to crank up the pressure.
Arsenal went close nine minutes later with their best move of the game so far. Katie Chapman found Little inside the Arsenal half and she drove forward 40 yards before picking out White, who in turn crossed for Carter who took one touch and fired a left-foot shot just over.
Mark Sampson’s side started the second half with more of the ball but it was Kerr’s side that were still creating chances. Gemma Davison found Little in acres of space in the 56th minute but the Scottish midfielder couldn’t adjust her feet quickly enough and could only fire a left-foot shot wide.
Little again went close two minutes later, this time she shifted the ball onto her stronger right foot but her shot went inches wide of the far post.
Pablos almost put the visitors into a shock lead on the hour when she struck a half-volley just wide of Rowlands’ far post.
The debutant had to be on her guard to stop a Natasha Harding effort from squeezing into the far corner in the 76th minute as the visitors started to throw players forward with more space being created.
Arsenal piled forward in search of a winner in the final minutes, substitute Rachel Yankey had a shot parried by Chamberlain in stoppage time but the game finished with both defences coming out on top and a result that neither side wanted.
- Cherie Rowlands
- Houghton 77
- White 70
- Grant 77
- Yankey 70
- Del Rio 42
- Pablos Sanchon
- Windell Yellow Card
- Keka Vega
- Ellie Curson
- Charlotte Maynes
- Laura Walkley
- Heatherson 42