Katie McCabe (second left) celebrates after scoring Arsenal's first goal of the game with team-mates
Arsenal 3 Everton 0
When Katie McCabe half-volleyed her looping shot into the top corner, she turned away from it with a casual swagger. Her shooing away of celebrations for the beautiful strike was a reflection of the confidence that has become embedded in the Arsenal camp, as they extended their 100 per cent record in the Women’s Super League on Sunday.
McCabe’s opener in Arsenal’s 3-0 home win over Everton marked 10 wins from 11 since manager Jonas Eidevall’s arrival in the summer. It was especially notable because it came so soon after their humbling visit to Barcelona midweek. Last Tuesday, the European champions knocked Arsenal down a peg, dominating to win 4-1 in their Champions League group match.
It marked the first test in Eidevall’s short tenure, but his Arsenal side bounced back with aplomb on Sunday to put themselves outright top of the table for the first time this season. "I think after any game, to close the chapter, you need to see what we tried to do, what actually happened, and what can we learn," Eidevall said post-match of the response from his team. "After we get the learning points then that game is done. We try to keep that routine."
Ahead of kick-off, Arsenal and Everton made a show of solidarity with the players in the National Women’s Soccer League, after allegations of sexual coercion and verbal abuse in the US top division saw the league in turmoil.
The opposing teams linked arms in the centre circle at Meadow Park, a gesture adopted by the majority of the WSL sides on Sunday, with nine of 10 teams showing the same unity – while Leicester City opted to applaud instead.
The Arsenal and Everton players line arms in support of the NWSL players before the match
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
But as soon as the whistle blew, Arsenal showed why they are the team to beat this season. Irish winger McCabe was essential to that, linking up with Vivianne Miedema and Tobin Heath on the left-hand side to wreak havoc on Everton’s attempts to keep their shape.
McCabe’s goal came just after the half hour mark. Picking up an Everton clearance from the edge of the area, McCabe controlled the ball before hitting it sweetly off the bounce. Sandy MacIver in goal might be disappointed when she watches it back, but McCabe’s brilliance was undeniable. It was her third goal in her last three league appearances and she added an assist later in the half, when her corner found Lotte Wubben-Moy’s head.
Eidevall was all-praise for the Republic of Ireland defender post-match: "She is so versatile and to be honest she has played a little bit as an attacking midfielder for us this year," Eidevall said. "I think she has been brilliant when she has been doing that as well. In all those positions she will give you the pace, she will give you the dribbles with her left foot and her crosses and finishes."
Jordan Nobbs had a couple of attempts in her first WSL appearance off the bench since May, and Frida Maanum’s stunner from outside the box late in the match providing a well-earned third goal.
Everton’s few chances largely came in a flurry at the end of the first half, Izzy Christiansen’s shot stopped easily by Manuela Zinsberger and her brilliant cross evading Toni Duggan in front of goal. They only had one shot on goal though, and the loss continued the club’s poor record against the supposed top sides – after 4-0 drubbings against Chelsea and Manchester City. Manager Willie Kirk said he thought what separated his side from them was a lack of "self belief".
"We need to believe in ourselves more as a team," he said. "We got ourselves in good positions, but we were just happy to hold it, rather than see it through. There’s elements in the game where we could be more aggressive and that’s I think because we have a little bit too much respect for certain badges."