FAWSL: Arsenal remain top of the table after Leicester City victory

Frida Maanum and Mana Iwabuchi of Arsenal high five each other.
Frida Maanum of Arsenal celebrates with Mana Iwabuchi after scoring their side's fourth goal against Leicester City at Meadow Park on 12 December 2021. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Leicester City travelled to Meadow Park in hopes to claim their first league points of the season, while Arsenal were eager for a win after their past two results ended in defeat.

Arsenal currently sit top of the league with 25 points, while newly promoted Leicester City remain at the bottom of the table, having yet to put any points on the board.

Ahead of the fixture, it was clear that both teams would be pushing to gain today’s points.

Leading up to the match

Both teams competed throughout the past week, with fixtures leading up to their first clash against one another since 2008. On Thursday, Arsenal hosted Barcelona at the Emirates in Group C of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The Gunners lost 4-0 to Barca following a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

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Leicester’s last outing, away to Manchester United in the Continental Cup, ended in the Foxes taking the extra point after the 2-2 draw went on to penalties.

Prior to their trip to Leigh Sports Village, Leicester trailed in a 1-0 loss to Everton in the league. Since then, they have appointed Lydia Bedford as their new manager, with Brent Hills joining as the assistant manager after the departure of Jonathan Morgan.

Today’s clash was Bedford’s first match in charge of the Foxes, while Emile Heskey acted as interim manager against Manchester United.

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Team news

Jonas Eidevall made seven changes to his Arsenal side following their match against Barcelona, while Leicester only made one change since facing Man United over the weekend.

With their shift in management, Leicester are seeing changes within their formations to see what works best under the new management.

A first half full of action

It was no surprise to see the Gunners overtake statistics with the talent in which they have within their squad. This dominance from Arsenal forced Leicester to have to defend immensely, however their defence was fairly high which allowed for Arsenal to expose them when having to track back.

Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs was first on the scoresheet for the Gunners, having scored in the 22nd minute to put her side ahead before the break.

Just 12 minutes later, Vivianne Miedema put Arsenal 2-0 up. The Dutch star’s goal continued her record of having scored against every WSL side that she has faced, with the Foxes having been the only club left for her to score against this season.

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Leicester had some strong chances that they were not able to capitalise off of, with an attempt from Jessica Sigsworth and a header that went too wide from Ashleigh Plumptre.

The Foxes were forced to defend due to the pressure from Arsenal, which led to a number of fouls, resulting in four yellow cards and one red card.

Leicester defender, Jemma Purfield was sent off following her foul on Nikita Parris which ultimately took the Arsenal forward from a goalscoring opportunity.

A challenging second half for Leicester

The second half forced Leicester to have to sit further back after dropping down to ten players right before half-time. Leicester have shown a threat off of set pieces in previous matches, so it was no surprise when defender Sophie Howard had a close chance of off a corner.

Unfortunately, the foxes were not able to capitalise off of any of their opportunities to put them on the scoresheet.

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The 72nd minute saw Miedema come off for Frida Maanum, who made an instant impact.

Maanum acted as an immense threat to Leicester’s defence, scoring two goals in the 81st and 83rd minute. The Norwegian midfielder put the Gunners up by four and put the match to rest by the time the final whistle blew.

Standout performances


Several Arsenal players stood out today which made it fairly difficult to narrow down to one player. Nobbs opened the scoring for the evening while also assisting Maanum for Arsenal’s third goal. She was able to have control within the midfield and help Arsenal break through Leicester’s defence to score their goals.

A constant threat in the midfield who knows how to set up her teammates for great opportunities, it is no surprise that Nobbs took today’s Player of the Match award.

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Both Parris and Maanum were also among the choices for standout players and deserve praise for how well they performed.

Parris was a strong threat for Leicester’s defence, with her pace down the wing to put crosses into the box to create opportunities for Arsenal. With several attempts, Parris was unable to put one in but was able to provide an assist for Miedema’s goal.

Maanum is a simple case, to have come off the bench to score two goals within the short amount of time that she did is outstanding.

Leicester City

While today was not an easy fixture for Leicester, despite the result, Demi Lambourne was once again outstanding.

Having made her WSL debut in their last league match against Everton, Lambourne has been consistent in ensuring to keep out as much as possible for Leicester.

The Leicester goalkeeper was able to make outstanding saves, including blocking a number of attempts from Miedema. Considering it being her first season playing in the WSL, Lambourne has shown strong talent in each game she has played in this season so far.

Having stopped two penalties last week against Man United, to keeping several attempts out from Arsenal, Lambourne has shown her skill and ability while shining for the Foxes.

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Overall thoughts

Throughout the match Leicester were able to keep Arsenal out during several different instances, but the Gunners were able to dominate the match and take the three points.

While Leicester continue to improve in each match and adjust under their new management, they’ll keep pushing to gain points in the league.

On Wednesday, the Foxes will host Manchester City in the Conti Cup at the Pirelli Stadium, while Arsenal will be travelling to face Hoffenheim for their Champions League clash.

In the WSL next Sunday, Leicester will face Birmingham City who are also seeking points. Birmingham currently only have one point after losing to Manchester City, ultimately making their match against the Foxes a key game for both sides to move up in the table.

Arsenal are now four points clear of second place Chelsea and will face Brighton who are currently in fourth place after having a strong start to their season.

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