By Nik Brumsack at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies continued their fine recent form with a convincing 5-0 Women’s Super League victory over Everton at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon.
Shelley Kerr’s side - who strode to a 4-0 success in the Continental Cup semi-final when the sides met on Thursday - took the lead early on through Danielle Carter. Kim Little extended the advantage from the penalty spot before Carter grabbed another on the half-hour.
Gemma Davison settled the game when she drove home a close-range effort after 53 minutes before Jordan Nobbs added a fifth midway through the second half.
This was a display that will send out a strong message to the rest of the league. Arsenal were a class above all afternoon, immediately assuming control with an attacking performance which the visitors, much like three days earlier, failed to live with.
Kerr reverted to the same team that had beaten Liverpool in Arsenal’s last WSL game.
That meant recalls for Jade Bailey and Davison, with Ciara Grant and Rachel Yankey the two to miss out. Steph Houghton partnered Gilly Flaherty at centre back with Emma Mitchell and Alex Scott outside them. Bailey was the defensive shield in the middle of the park, with Nobbs and Little operating in front of her. Meanwhile Carter continued in attack, where she received support from Davison and Ellen White on the flanks.
The game began in a similar fashion to Thursday’s encounter. Arsenal attacked from the off and were rewarded five minutes in.
Little pirouetted away from two players inside her own half before launching a terrific 40-yard pass for White to latch on to. The attacker ran clear of the defence and rounded the goalkeeper, allowing Carter the simple task of tapping home.
Nobbs then tested Elizabeth Durack and Lindsay Johnson headed against her own post as the Ladies hunted a second goal.
They didn’t have to wait long and extended the lead after 21 minutes when Little sent Durack the wrong way from the spot after Simone Magill tripped Davison.
Everton did almost pull one back when Brooke Chaplen headed against the frame of the goal after 27 minutes but, just two minutes later, Carter grabbed her second, glancing White’s fine cross into the far corner.
The onslaught continued and Durack had to gather efforts from both White and Nobbs.
The second period continued in the same vein and, as in the Continental Cup, Arsenal made the game safe shortly after the break. Davison exchanged passes with the excellent Carter before driving a left-foot shot home.
Kerr’s team were spoiling the 629-strong crowd, combining skilfully and with purpose. Some of their play was a joy to watch, with Davison and Carter in particular causing problems with their speed and guile.
The Ladies sealed the win midway through the second half.
Again White was heavily involved, sending in a cross that Carter cleverly turned into Nobbs’ path for the midfielder to strike home her fourth goal in three games.
Everton introduced Nikita Parris and the youngster almost made an instant impression, crossing low for fellow substitute Lucy Whipp to stab a shot against the woodwork.
The Ladies introduced teenagers Freda Ayisi and Caroline Weir for home league debuts and saw the rest of the game out comfortably to overtake Chelsea, who lost at Lincoln, and rise to third in the WSL table - with games in hand on those above them.
With seven straight wins in all competitions, Kerr's side look to have returned to their ominous best at just the right time.
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