Alessia Russo struck late to consign us to Continental Cup quarter-final defeat at Meadow Park on Wednesday evening.
A tight contest was eventually decided by the visiting substitute’s powerful 84th-minute header on what was a frustrating evening in Hertfordshire.
It all means we’ve lost our first two matches of the year - though Jonas Eidevall’s side will have the opportunity to bounce back quickly, at Manchester City in the Women’s Super League on Sunday.
Much of the big news before kick-off centred around our substitutes - new signings Stina Blackstenius and Laura Wienroither were named on the bench, alongside the returning Leah Williamson.
Meanwhile Viki Schnaderbeck was handed her first start since November 8, 2020, while Vivianne Miedema spearheaded an exciting attack also featuring Beth Mead and Nikita Parris.
It took a quarter of an hour for the first chance of the match to arrive - when it came, it so nearly resulted in the opening goal for Eidevall’s side. Fine combination down the left flank involving Mead and Katie McCabe resulted in the latter’s searching cross just evading the onrushing Miedema.
McCabe had appeals for a penalty waved away shortly after before Ella Toone went close at the other end, racing through but dragging her shot inches wide of the far post.
Mead drilled an effort off target but there would be no breakthrough before the half-time whistle.
The visitors began the second period brightly, with Noelle Maritz and Kim Little required to make crucial clearances in the two minutes following the restart, before Millie Turner’s header was diverted onto the bar by Manuela Zinsberger.
Arsenal, led by Mead, came roaring back. First, our No 9 won possession back deep inside United territory, eventually seeing her shot blocked away. Shortly after, Mead sent over an inviting free-kick, which a stretching Miedema could only head over.
With his side hunting the opening goal, Eidevall called for his new players - Blackstenius and Wienroither making their debuts from the bench, with Williamson and Tobin Heath also introduced.
The visitors were finishing strongly, however and, shortly after Vilde Boe Risa shot narrowly off target, Russo struck the decisive blow when heading home a deep free-kick at the back post.
Arsenal threw players forward in the closing stages but couldn’t find the leveller despite the best efforts of Jordan Nobbs, who shot agonisingly wide in stoppage time.
We’re back in action this Sunday, January 23 - travelling to Manchester City in the FA Women’s Super League. The match kicks off at 6.45pm (UK time).
Copyright 2022 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.