January 9, 2022 by Stephen L Wright
“Realistically, Sunday’s game is unlikely to result in a Blues’ victory; with enough grit, and playing as they did in early December, they could get a draw – but that is as unlikely as a win.” The words are mine from my match preview. I don’t think any Blues’ supporter would have disagreed; and then today happened.
Having not won one league game in 2021, and losing 0-3 and 4-0 to Arsenal in the 20-21 season, Blues roared into 2022. Lucy Quinn’s through ball for Libby Smith was itself sublime as it split apart the Arsenal defence; but Smith’s coolness of head and coolness of finish were its equals; 1-0 Blues after just three minutes.
We always want them to score; but early scores all too often mean early doors for an equaliser; and yet Arsenal could not get into a rhythm moving forward; Blues just kept the pressure on.
Half-time crept agonisingly closer. Then with three minutes remaining of normal play Veatriki Sarri made a run towards the Arsenal area. She played the ball wide to Jamie Finn; and continued her run into the penalty area. Finn put in a great cross; Jade Pennock got a boot to the ball but was denied; and Sarri coolly slotted the ball into the top corner.
Forty-five minutes left to hang onto a two goal lead. The visitors came out brighter; they made more progress into the Blues’ half and area. Captain Louise Quinn continued to control a strong backline with Gemma Lawley and Harriet Scott; and although Arsenal broke through any attempts on goal were denied.
The win is Blues’ first against Arsenal since 2018; a remarkable demonstration of hunger for goals and points. They’ve now jumped out of the relegation spot to sit one point above Leicester, who lost today at Reading.
Next up is Man Utd on Saturday. Preview to follow. Until then, keep safe and…