It was an afternoon to forget at the Academy Stadium as we fell to a defeat against Manchester City in the Women’s Super League.
Lauren Hemp scored for the hosts within the opening five minutes, with Chloe Kelly netting a second before half-time. Rafaelle pulled one back after an hour played but our second-half improvement ultimately came too late to turn the game around.
In a rematch against City after our victory over them in midweek, our Gunners lined up as a back five once again to face Gareth Taylor's side. This time around, however, we got off to a calamitous start as Lauren Hemp was granted an easy tap-in at the back post after only four minutes played.
Goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger stopped it becoming two shortly after. A misplaced pass put Khadija Shaw one-on-one with Zinsberger and our keeper made a great instinctual save to deny the hosts.
City’s inevitable second goal did come just before the break, through England winger Chloe Kelly. Shaw played a cut back to an unmarked Kelly, who doubled their advantage and capped off a lethargic first-half performance from us.
We regained our composure after the break and reverted to a back four, with Lia Walti coming off the bench after several weeks away through injury. The Swiss midfielder provided much-needed balance in the middle of the park.
Our second half began with noticeably more promise. Leah Williamson played a perfectly-weighted cross over the top to Stina Blackstenius who stormed into the box but was denied only by the post.
Just before the hour mark, a free kick from deep found Rafaelle ready and waiting in the box and our Brazilian's guided header beat Roebuck at the near post.
After pulling a goal back, our forward line showed more intent and creativity in the second spell of play but despite a few sporadic chances, a comeback never truly looked on the cards.
Second-half substitute Kathrine Kuhl was a bright spark in attack, posing problems for City’s defence on the left wing. Frida Maanum’s close control nearly carved another opening for our Gunners on several occasions but the hosts remained strong at the back.
What it means
Manchester City have now overtaken us in the WSL table, moving into third, though we still have a game in hand.
Our Gunners' next game back after the international break is Chelsea in the Vitality Women's FA Cup fifth round.
Arsenal Starting XI: Zinsberger (GK), Maritz (Wienroither, 80), Wubben-Moy (Walti, 45), Rafaelle, Catley, Williamson, Little (C), Maanum, Pelova (Kuhl, 68), Foord (McCabe, 45), Blackstenius (Gio, 80)
Subs not used: D'Angelo (GK), Marckese (GK), Beattie, Hurtig
Manchester City Starting XI: Roebuck (GK), Casparij, Houghton (C), Greenwood, Aleixandri, Coombs, Angeldahl, Hasegawa, Kelly (Raso, 90), Hemp, Shaw
Subs not used: MacIver (GK), Ouahabi, Castellanos, Blakstad, Fowler
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