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Arsenal keep pace with WSL title rivals with derby win over Spurs

Arsenal kept the pressure on at the top of the WSL table with a 1-0 victory over north London rivals Tottenham at a sold-out Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners dominated much of the game but a combination of wastefulness in front of goal and resolute Spurs defending saw the home side frustrated in the first half. It was actually Spurs who went closest to opening the scoring when Jessica Naz’s shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Manuela Zinsberger.

However, Tottenham’s resistance was broken early in the second half when Beth Mead teed up Alessia Russo for her sixth goal of the league campaign.

Arsenal pushed for a second but the England striker’s goal proved to be the winner as the Gunners secured a club-record seventh straight win at home in the WSL.

The victory sees Jonas Eidevall’s side move level on points with second-placed Chelsea, who have the chance to go above current leaders Man City and back to the top of the table when they face Leicester later on Sunday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 6pm).

It’s another WSL sell-out at Emirates Stadium!

Arsenal sold out Emirates Stadium for the second game in a row in the WSL.

The attendance at the Emirates for the clash with Spurs was 60,050 – not quite the record for the WSL, which remains the 60,160 for Man United’s recent visit to north London.

How Arsenal kept the pressure on Man City and Chelsea…

Goalscorer Alessia Russo pictured during Arsenal's WSL clash with Spurs
Image: Goalscorer Alessia Russo pictured during Arsenal’s WSL clash with Spurs

In front of a second successive sell-out at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal made a fast start. Beth Mead’s powerful shot was blocked by Spurs skipper Molly Bartrip, while after three corners in the opening five minutes, one dropped to the returning Russo, but the England forward poked the ball wide of the upright.

Spurs were pinned back in their own half but defended well. They were struggling to find a way through the ferocious Arsenal press, but when they did, there was space to exploit. The visitors found Martha Thomas in space on the right, and she cut inside Steph Catley before testing Zinsberger, who saved at her near post.

There was little respite for the Spurs defence. Wave after wave of attacks came at them but still, Arsenal could find no way through. Mead’s cross just evaded Russo at the back post before Bartrip made yet another crucial block to deny the England forward.

Caitlin Foord takes on Ashleigh Neville
Image: Caitlin Foord takes on Ashleigh Neville

Despite their dominance, it was Spurs who went closest to opening the scoring. The visitors put together another smart counter-attack and Naz cut inside her marker before forcing Zinsberger into action with the Arsenal goalkeeper tipping the shot onto the crossbar.

However, Spurs’ resistance was broken early in the second half when Kim Little’s delicate lofted pass released Mead. The England forward found her international team-mate Russo unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, and the striker made no mistake to give the hosts the breakthrough they so desperately craved.

Kim Little is challenged by Kit Graham
Image: Kim Little is challenged by Kit Graham

Arsenal pushed for a second to make the game safe as they continued to put the Spurs back line under pressure, but chances were few and far between before a raft of substitutions killed the momentum.

Mead’s late free-kick was well saved by Rebecca Spencer before Arsenal had to see out seven minutes of added time.

There were some nervy moments too with a cross just evading Beth England in the Arsenal box before Grace Clinton’s dangerous cut-back was well cleared by Kyra Cooney-Cross as the hosts got over the line to the delight of a packed Emirates.

‘Crucial win for Arsenal ahead of crunch Chelsea clash’

Sky Sports’ Oliver Yew at Emirates Stadium:

“Job done for Arsenal. It was a decent performance, that was until they got in and around the Spurs box. They were wasteful in the final third making it a much trickier afternoon than it needed to be for the Gunners.

“But that is a problem for another day for Jonas Eidevall, who will delighted with the three points. It’s a win that sees them keep pace at the top of the table and crucially they take maximum points ahead of that crunch game with Chelsea on Friday March 15, live on Sky Sports.

“For Spurs, they well and truly played their part in this contest with some resolute defending. They frustrated the Gunners for long periods and went close with chances on the break in the first half.

“In the end, the combination of Mead and Russo did it for them as the Gunners delighted a capacity Emirates Stadium crowd to continue their bid to wrestle the WSL title from Chelsea.”

What’s next?

Arsenal host Aston Villa in a League Cup semi-final clash on Wednesday; kick-off 7.15pm.

The Gunners return to WSL action on Friday March 15 with a trip to title rivals Chelsea, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 7pm.

Meanwhile, Spurs are in FA Cup action next weekend as they host Man City on Sunday March 10; kick-off 3pm.

Their return to WSL action sees them host Leicester on Sunday March 17; kick-off 2pm.

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