The pitch at Leigh Sports Village is seen before the game Manchester United Women v West Ham United Ladies, FA Continental Tyres League Cup Quarter-Final football match, Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, UK - 09 Jan 2019 Photo: Jon Super for The FA

Manchester United top FAWSL for the first time with victory over Arsenal

Manchester United have moved to the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal at The Leigh Sports Village this afternoon.

It was an historic day for United who not only top the league table, they have also collected a first victory over a ‘top three’ side for the first time.

Arsenal had taken maximum points from their first five league games this season, however, this was probably going to be their sternest test of the campaign thus far. It proved to be just that as they were second best to a tenacious and determined Manchester United side.

Christen Press started brightly and had a couple of early chances to put her side ahead, none better than when she rolled her marker in the area and shot from close range. It looked destined for the goal but Manuela Zinsberger had other ideas and she stuck out a right boot at the last second to divert the ball out for a corner.

United continued to look dangerous as Arsenal struggled to cope with their high intensity press which not only caused them problems in the defensive third but isolated their front three as well. The saving grace for head coach Joe Montemurro would have been that his side survived the pressure from the home side and weren’t going into the dressing room trailing at the interval.

Casey Stoney brought on Jess Sigsworth at half-time and The Red Devils maintained the high intensity that they finished with in the first period. The chances continued to come too as Jackie Groenen got her head on an Ella Toone flick on but couldn’t direct the ball on target. Tobin Heath then had a chance when she powered her way into the box but could only fire her shot into the side of the net.

Arsenal came close to taking the lead when a mis-hit clearance was turned goalwards with plenty of pace but Mary Earps managed to get behind it and keep her side level. The Gunners seemed to be growing in confidence and looked to be holding onto the ball much better than in the first half.

Then came the decisive moment. Sigsworth received the ball in the Arsenal half and drove purposefully at The Gunners’ defence. United’s number nine lifted her head and picked out Toone on the edge of the area and the Lionesses youngster found the far corner of the net.

Arsenal pushed hard well into stoppage time, putting United under lots of pressure, but they couldn’t find that one chance to break the back-line. Consequently, the home side held on to record probably their most famous victory in their short history as a senior women’s team as opponents Arsenal slipped to their first defeat of the season.

Manchester United therefore leapfrog The Gunners at the top of the table and surely now, the players and fans will believe that the club are genuine title contenders this season.

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