Arsenal ensured they sit at the top of the table with a 6-1 win over local rivals Watford on Thursday night at Boreham Wood FC. Kim Little and Kelly Smith both struck twice while Jayne Ludlow and an own goal completed the scoring.
The champions now lead Everton on goal difference after the Toffees' narrow 2-1 win against Liverpool.
Last season Watford proved tough opposition as a well-organised and battling outfit. And it was more of the same on Thursday as they set out in a 4-5-1 formation looking to soak up the pressure, making Arsenal work hard to create space or play through them.
Arsenal's joy came down the flanks as Gemma Davison and Karen Carney were regularly picked out and able to take on Watford's full-backs. It was Davison who set up the first goal for Little after she had driven in from the right flank on 13 minutes and unleashed a shot that the keeper could only parry into Little's path.
However Watford should have equalised just minutes later as Clarke's speed caught out Yvonne Tracy at the back, leaving her one on one with Emma Byrne. The Arsenal keeper who saved the shot allowing Bassett to recover and clear the loose ball. Clarke then had a second chance to get her side level, nearly catching out Byrne on the edge of the box as a long ball forward proved difficult to deal with.
Arsenal gained control with their second, an own goal from Cori Daniels in the 31st minute. The former Gunner deflected a cross from Davison into her own net. Little then made it 3-0 right on the stroke of half time, taking an inch-perfect pass from Kelly Smith on her chest and hitting an unstoppable left-footed first-time strike, proving she is comfortable on both feet.
Arsenal pounced again just two minutes after the break as Jayne Ludlow was on hand to slot home a cross from Carney after Watford allowed the ball to travel across the face of the goal.
Arsenal's final goals were scored courtesy of their top scorer Smith as she grabbed two in as many minutes. Her first was the best, a delightful lob into the top right-hand corner from 25 yards out. Smith's double took her season's tally to 10 goals in just three games.
Watford then grabbed a late consolation on 83 minutes when Helen Lander latched onto a missed place back pass leaving her to round Byrne to easily slot home from eight yards.
Next up for the champions is a game against Leeds Carnegie this Sunday at Tadcaster Albion FC. The game kicks off at 1pm. Doncaster visit Arsenal on September 7, two days before the draw for the Group Stage of the Uefa Women's Cup.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.