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Vivianne Miedema scores brace as Arsenal thrash Tottenham in front of record WSL crowd

Arsenal 4-0 Tottenham: Beth Mead’s curler opened the scoring and Raffaele headed in between Miedema’s pair of strikes

Jamie Braidwood
Emirates Stadium
Saturday 24 September 2022 17:05 BST
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(The FA via Getty Images)

It was Boxing Day 1920 when a crowd of this number last watched a women’s league match in England. The men of the Football Association were so shocked by the scene at Goodison Park – as Dick, Kerr Ladies defeated local rivals St Helens in front of over 50,000 – that they voted to ban women’s football, an order which lasted for 50 years. A further half-century later, as Arsenal thrashed Tottenham in another local derby, the difference is the change these players are fuelling is now irreversible.

In the end, the ease in which Arsenal calmly and surgically played through and then ruthlessly dispatched their rivals Tottenham was a contrast to the history of the occasion.

An attendance of 47,367 fell short of the reported 53,737 ticket sales but it still sets a new record for the Women’s Super League. A hundred years on from the FA being so stunned that they would declare crowds watching women’s football “unsuitable”, today a seismic match and the ripples it sends is only part of the growth.

This was the post-Euros launch that Leah Williamson had called for. The record turnout for a club fixture since the FA’s ban was lifted in 1971 comes just weeks after England won the Euros in front of 87,000 at Wembley. “We want to see them at WSL games,” Williamson said just after England’s historic win, and how they did.

It was Beth Mead, of course, who set Arsenal on their way, and the Gunners did not once look like losing this after the England forward opened the scoring inside five minutes. It was a goal taken so naturally by Mead and on such an afternoon, it was no surprise that the Euros golden boot winner stepped up once again. Arsenal remained just as controlled and measured, and two goals from Vivianne Miedema and a further header from Rafaelle Souza wrapped up their second 4-0 win in the WSL in succession.

The new season has now also had the jump-start the glow of England’s Euros win had promised. While this result fell short of the impact and drama of Liverpool’s shock win over Chelsea on the delayed opening weekend, it sends a message and reflects the significance of what the Lionesses were able to achieve.

Arsenal, though, did their talking on the pitch. They hold the early advantage after Chelsea’s slip-up and their superiority over a Spurs side that finished fifth last season was striking.

This was what the record crowd had come for, and there were reports of long queues outside before kick-off, with lots of supporters potentially visiting the Emirates for the first time and being unaware of the waits at the turnstiles. There remained a steady trickle of fans arriving inside the opening minutes of the match and many of those still making their way inside missed a fast start from Arsenal and Mead’s early goal.

The forward had been denied from close range moments earlier, and as Kim Little fed her the ball inside the left channel, she instead looked to cross towards Katie McCabe. It was blocked but the chance came back to her and the first touch set it perfectly for the curling finish into the far corner.

Arsenal’s play for the remainder of the half was calm, patient, but above all authoritative as they returned to domestic action following Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Ajax.

Tottenham sat deep and stayed narrow, and Williamson threaded passes between their shape while Little roamed and picked off loose balls, maintaining their dominance. Behind Little, Lia Walti moved Tottenham around intelligently.

(The FA via Getty Images)

The visitors were often overwhelmed – their first shot came from 40 yards, before Celin Bizet had a better opening inside the penalty area only to curl straight at Manuela Zinsberger. It was as close as Spurs got, while the second from Arsenal seemed inevitable. Little thrashed a shot in the side-netting, Caitlin Foord glanced a header wide, but just as Tottenham’s safety had seemed to have got them into the half-time level, they were caught. Foord pinched possession off Evelina Summanen, leading to Miedema rolling a finish past Rebecca Spencer on 43 minutes for her first of the season.

The second half allowed Arsenal to rest Mead and Miedema ahead of Wednesday’s pivotal return leg against Ajax. Mead made her exit on the far side of the pitch and showed her appreciation in a mini lap of honour shortly after the hour mark. By that point, the match was over as a contest – with Rafaelle rising well to meet Mead’s cross and then Miedema adding her second with another header from an Arsenal corner.

In terms of their season, securing progression to the Champions League group stages on Wednesday may carry more importance for Arsenal than what turned into a stroll in the park against Tottenham. In terms of significance, though, the record crowd at the Emirates helped to make that perfectly clear.

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