United suffer narrow defeat to reigning WSL champions

Manchester United experience narrow back-to-back defeats after their recent fall to Arsenal in the WSL.

It’s not easy starting your first ever campaign in the WSL against two of the top teams. Manchester United have faced the FA Cup champions Manchester City and reigning WSL champions Arsenal in their opening matches.

After their promotion to the top flight, the Red Devils have now had a taste of the fierce competition.

Following a defeat in the Manchester derby, United looked to bounce back against Arsenal.

Manager Casey Stoney was forced to make two changes to her side that fell to City at the Etihad. Full-back Lotta Okvist missed out on her home debut due to concussion. Likewise, midfielder Jackie Groenen picked up a knock during training.

The pair were replaced by Kirsty Smith and Amy Turner. This allowed the versatile Hayley Ladd to replace Groenen in midfield. 

A Strong Arsenal Side

The Gunners brought back star striker Vivianne Miedema after she was ruled out of their home opener against West Ham.

England international Jordan Nobbs made her first competitive start since suffering an ACL injury in November. 

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It was an encouraging start for Stoney’s side as they looked to keep their attacking momentum from the previous match. Tactics proved key as United looked to negate Arsenal’s attack – especially with Kim Little who was deprived of time on the ball. 

Man United forward Ella Toone was proving a threat as she went unchallenged on a mazy run towards goal. Goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger could only clear the chance for a corner.

Arsenal – who scored 70 times last season – struggled to carve any clear-cut opportunities in the first half. They eventually found their rhythm, which forced Mary Earps to make a double save and deny Miedema her first goal of the season. 

Arsenal kept the pressure on throughout the second half which saw Earps deny Little on several occasions. Miedema also saw her curling effort bounce off the upright. It seemed United were going to secure a hard-earned point.

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That was until substitute Danielle van de Donk was on hand to slot the ball past Earps on the 89th minute, leaving the Reds devastated. 

The match finished 1-0, securing all three points for the reigning champions, although it wasn’t an easy game for either team.

United looked up for the challenge and had their fair share of chances against the champions. Unfortunately the Red Devils suffer another agonising 1-0 defeat and are yet to register any points.

Next Up 

United have lost both of their WSL games and look to bounce back against rivals Liverpool at the Leigh Sports Village. 

Arsenal are away to Millwall Lionesses in their first FA WSL cup game of the season.