Arsenal began the defence of their title in full-swing with a 4-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers.

Rachel Yankey was missing from the starting line up due to a hamstring strain, allowing Kim Little to slot into the team pushing Kelly Smith up as the spearhead of the attack.

Arsenal Ladies

1
Byrne
2
Scott
3
Tracy
4
Bassett
5
Flaherty 75
6
Grant 75
7
Ludlow Goal!
8
Smith 80 Goal! Goal! Goal!
9
Davison
10
Carney
11
Little

Substitutes

12
Spencer
13
Pond 75
14
Fahey 75
15
Bird 80
16
Ross

Blackburn Rovers

1
Hill
2
Brewer
3
Harding
4
Twlhig
5
Burke
6
Parry
7
Preston
8
Shepherd
9
Anderton
10
Burn
11
Penny

Substitutes

12
Campbell
13
McDougall
14
Parker
15
McCoy

And it took only seven minutes before Smith registered her first goal of the season.

Smith scored with a delightful chip over Danielle Hill in the Blackburn goal, after she had been given too much space just inside the box. 

Smith then popped up in the 17th minute converting from six yards after some neat one-two passing with Carney coming in off the left flank.

Jayne Ludlow added a third just before the break when a lose ball dropped to her just outside the box and she unleashed a sweet left-foot volley that sailed over the goalkeeper.

In the second period Blackburn adjusted their 1st half 4-5-1 shape to 4-4-2 adding another striker into the attack but Arsenal continued to dominate the possession allowing Blackburn only the sporadic attack.

Smith then completed her hattrick in the 56th minute with another easy tap-in after Gemma Davison had danced herself into the box to unleash a great strike that goalkeeper Hill could only parry to the unmarked Smith.

As the Blackburn defence tired Davison continued to cause problems with her quick and skilful runs through the middle and down the right flank but several chances went unpunished.

Three league debutants were then introduced to the game as Niamh Fahey, Dannii Bird and Eartha Pond were all subbed on.

And it was Dannii Bird that went closest in almost grabbing herself a debut goal five minutes from the end as her 20-yard strike just flew wide of the post.

Arsenal Ladies

1
Byrne
2
Scott
3
Tracy
4
Bassett
5
Flaherty 75
6
Grant 75
7
Ludlow Goal!
8
Smith 80 Goal! Goal! Goal!
9
Davison
10
Carney
11
Little

Substitutes

12
Spencer
13
Pond 75
14
Fahey 75
15
Bird 80
16
Ross

Blackburn Rovers

1
Hill
2
Brewer
3
Harding
4
Twlhig
5
Burke
6
Parry
7
Preston
8
Shepherd
9
Anderton
10
Burn
11
Penny

Substitutes

12
Campbell
13
McDougall
14
Parker
15
McCoy
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Aug 2008