Arsenal helped kick-off the FA Women’s Super League’s December schedule in style as they produced an awe-inspiring display against Tanya Oxtoby’s struggling Bristol City side, notching 11 goals to set a new league goalscoring record, beating Liverpool’s total of backnine recorded in 2013.
It was a simply sublime display that showed just what the reigning league champions can produce when they are at their best, as they bulldozed through The Robins’ leaky defence for the second time in 10 days.
A somewhat depleted crowd made the trip to Meadow Park to watch Arsenal’s thoroughly ruthless footballing display, on another record-breaking day for the club. It was just two weeks ago that they helped break the FA Women’s Super League attendance record in the North London Derby, and today they registered the biggest win in the league’s history, the game ending 11-1.
Fans were treated to a beautifully executed team performance from Joe Montemurro’s side, who excelled from defence through to attack and it was none other than Vivianne Miedema who stole the limelight. The Ballon D’or nominee scored the FA Women’s Super League’s first double hat-trick, assisting a further four goals. She produced an individual performance of the highest calibre, executed by a player like no other. In the 70 minutes for which she was on the pitch she contributed to every one of the 10 goals scored, so much so that calling it a world-class display would frankly be an understatement.
Bristol City got us underway at Meadow Park, but it was Arsenal who came firing out of the blocks, putting early pressure on The Robins’ defence which looked complacent and disorganised from the get go. This early dominance was quickly rewarded in the seventh minute, as Lisa Evans, unmarked at the far post, headed in a pinpoint cross from Miedema. This early goal was a precursor for what was to come from this ruthless and persistent Arsenal side. Their fluidity in attack aided in the team’s creativity and unpredictability, and they were relentless for the full 90 minutes.
Ebony Salmon was a bright spark for the visitors, carving out a couple of tentative chances early on, but as the half continued her side were simply cut open like a knife, and the goals quickly started to add up. On the 10-minute mark, The Gunners got their second, this time a first goal of the season for Leah Williamson. The defender headed home from another Miedema cross, this time from the right hand side, Arsenal’s attacking fluidity already reaping it’s rewards. After assisting the first two goals, Miedema got one of her own in the 15th minute, following a beautifully lofted ball from Lia Walti.
As the half went on Arsenal only grew in confidence, swarming Bristol City from all angles. Miedema notched another two goals in the space of five minutes to complete her first-half hat-trick. The half ended with Arsenal leading 5-0, though without goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley, Bristol City may have gone into the break even further behind. The England youth international made several crucial saves and was as solid as she could be against the onslaught of brutal Arsenal attacks.
Yana Daniels got Bristol City off to a bright start in the second half, hitting the bar with a thunderous shot from the edge of the box, perhaps giving Robins’ fans the faintest of hope. However, their promising start quickly faded and was soon replaced by a familiar picture, as Arsenal continued on the offensive and did not let up until the final whistle blew.
Arsenal soon picked up where they left off, getting their sixth goal in the 51st minute. It was Miedema once again, this time curling her shot expertly into the right hand corner in what was the pick of her six goals. Jordan Nobbs got in on the act soon after for Arsenal’s seventh and their eighth goal came just two minutes later. Unsurprisingly, it was Miedema who finished off a classy team move from the sublime Gunners. Miedema capped off the most magnificent of individual performances by assisting Evans’ delightful volley on the 60-minute mark, followed soon after by her sixth and final goal, marking her double hat-trick and double figures for the Gunners.
Miedema left the field to rapturous applause in the 69th minute, having contributed to all 10 of the goals scored in an astounding and encapsulating showing. Her replacement, Emma Mitchell, did not take long to add to Arsenal’s tally with one of her own. The fact that she managed to find space and pull her shot successfully is all the more impressive seeing as every Bristol City player was now sat back in their own half, relentlessly trying to prevent any further Arsenal goals
Despite Arsenal’s thorough demolition job, they were ultimately unable to come away with a clean sheet, the only mark on an otherwise flawless display from Montemurro’s superb side. Daniels got the consolation goal, the result of a penalty given away cheaply by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.
There are few words to accurately describe The Gunners’ display that would it the justice it deserves. For Montemurro’s side it was one of those days where everything perfectly fell into place, with each and every player playing their part in a record-breaking, emphatic victory, in what should serve as a stark wake-up call for Oxtoby and Bristol City.
I am the editor and owner of FAWSL Full-Time magazine. I have been reporting on men’s and women’s football at various levels since summer 2015. Some of the events which I have reported from include the 2017 UEFA Women’s European Championship, 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, SSE Women’s FA Cup final, Emirates FA Cup final, UEFA Europa League, English Football League and various international matches.