Arsenal let their class and superior fitness show in a fine display of top-class WSL football at the Dripping Pan. After the opening goal from Danielle van de Donk, the Gunners settled into a fine rhythm pf passing and movement that pinned the home side in their half.
Arsenal ‘keeper Peyraud-Magnin was a by-stander for much of the first half as her team-mates, led by the effervescent Lisa Evans out wide with Jordan Nobbs pulling the strings. Arsenal’s second was unlucky for Lewes.Amy Taylor made a fine block on Vivianne Miedema at Baker’s left-hand post, only for the ball to bounce straight back off the Arsenal 11 and over the line.
Taylor and Faye Baker fought to keep their side in the contest, but Katie McCabe made it 3-0 before a flurry of free kicks and two penalty awards put the WSL side out of sight.
Miedema and Kim Little each completed a hat-trick, the latter a dead-ball trio of two first-half penalties and a second-half free-kick that rebounded in off the left post. The second penalty, awarded on the stroke of half-time, looked harsh on Natasha Wells, who collided with Miedema after the Arsenal player appeared to trip on the ball.
Lewes continued to work hard, McIntyre and Rutherford making blocks and chasing the ball, but Arsenal’s ability to move the ball quickly, with players swapping positions at will, gave the visitors complete control.
They did make inroads into the Arsenal half late on, winning two corners and two free kicks which briefly threatened, but Arsenal saw off the danger, capping an impressive display with Little’s 68th minute free-kick.
John Donoghue on today’s match:
“There was a huge gulf between the sides, which there will be whenever Arsenal play someone from this division. We were looking to compete, get some opportunities to get forward. Really, it’s a learning curve.What it’s like to play at that level, what sort of movements, can you deal with the ball. When you come up against players of this quality you can only learn.”
“We spoke to the players at half time and full time. We asked the players to re-set. We set challenges and asked them to set themselvestargets for the second half and for me they met those well.”
On Arsenal’s fitness and the challenge of playing a full-time side:
“Playing against full-time professionals you have to be clever on how you train (we only train three times per week). They have work to deal with, so we give them short, smart sessions to work on away from training.The matches we’ve played so far against teams in our division (Charlton, Millwall), we’ve probably looked fitter.”
“Wednesday night we’re up against Crystal Palace and again we have Leicester City here on Sunday, that was the thought process behind taking players off, so they haven’t got so much of the game in their legs. You can’t take everyone off, unfortunately!”
Aaron D’Antino, Assistant coach at Arsenal
“We were pleased with the girls’ attitude and endeavour, from the first whistle to the last. Obviously a great team performance.”
On the interchange of positions and player movement off the ball:
“We give the players a lot of freedom in the attacking half if they see space ad identify areas they can exploit they have the freedom to do that. That’s a part of the discipline needed for the 90 minutes and it was good to see.”
On keeping the players focused once they had taken an early lead
“We spoke about that at half time. If we want to take things to the next level we have to maintain that intensity and execute our style ofplay for the 90 minutes.”
Van de Donk (7)
Miedema (21, 47, 62)
Little (37 pen, 45 pen, 68)
Lewes: Faye BAKER, Rosie PAYE (64), Rebecca THOMPSON-AGBRO,Amy TAYLOR, Natasha WELLS, Leeta RUTHERFORD, Kate McINTYRE (C), Danielle LANE,Vicky CARLETON, Rebecca CARTER (78), Samantha QUAYLE (87)
Substitutes: Nina WILSON, Shannon MALONEY (64), CharlotteOWEN (78), Georgia ROBERT, Kellie LARKIN (87)
Substitutes not used: Wilson, Robert
Red cards: 0
Arsenal: PaulinePEYRAUD-MAGNIN, Emma MITCHELL, Lia WALTI, Kim LITTLE, Dominique BLOODWORTH (62),Jordan NOBBS, Katie McCABE, Jessica SAMUELSSON, Vivianne MIEDEMA (62), Daniellevan de DONK, Lisa EVANS
Substitutes: Sari VAN VEENENDALL, Leah WILLIAMSON, LouiseQUINN (62), Beth MEAD (62)
Substitutes not used: van Veenendall, Williamson
Red cards: 0
Referee: Alex Blake, assistants: Louis Macks, Will Briers