Arsenal suffer defeat at bottom-place Birmingham

Arsenal’s Beth Mead has an attempt on goal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at Birmingham

Arsenal’s Beth Mead has an attempt on goal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at Birmingham - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Arsenal suffered a crushing 2-0 defeat to bottom side Birmingham City in the Women’s Super League at St Andrews on Sunday.

With Chelsea’s game on Friday night postponed the Gunners went into the game knowing that a win would take them seven points clear at the top of the table. 

However, Libby Smith and Veatriki Sarri had other ideas as they scored to lift the Blues off the bottom of the table. 

Birmingham City took the lead inside three minutes when Lucy Quinn won the ball in midfield before threading it through for Smith to run onto , the striker slotting confidently beyond Manuela Zinsberger. 

Jonas Eidevall would have been concerned with the Gunners start as Jennifer Beattie lost possession to Jade Pennock, who directed her shot well wide of the target. 

Arsenal just couldn’t get going, but with eight minutes played it was Jordan Nobbs who tried to create a spark when she got the ball out wide before crossing, but could only direct it into the hands off Emily Ramsey in the Blues goal. 

Birmingham, who went into the game without a win in the league, were the team in the ascendancy as Sarri had a go from outside the box but she zipped her shot over. 

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Arsenal won themselves a free-kick when Beth Mead scampered down the wing before she was taken out by Blues keeper Ramsey who raced outside her box. However, the free-kick was wasted. 

Eidevall’s side created a half chance with 25 minutes on the clock when Kim Little saw the ball sail into the path of Mead. Her powerful shot was blocked by Republic of Ireland international Harriet Scott. 

Arsenal found it difficult to break down a well-organised Birmingham defence. 

On 42 minutes Birmingham went 2-0 ahead with Sarri pouncing when Pennocks shot was blocked. 

Arsenal's first shot on target came on the stroke of half-time when Vivianne Miedema wriggled into a shooting position, but her shot lacked conviction and was saved.

The Gunners started the second half the way they ended the first – well below par.

With 54 minutes played, Arsenal had their best opportunity of the game as Ramsey came off her line, allowing Miedema to skip past her before pulling a pass back for Little. The shot was well blocked by Gemma Lawley on the line. 

Sarri came close to making it 3-0 when she jinked past the challenges before her low effort was saved down low by Zinsberger. 

Eidevall looked to the bench, bringing off Boye Sorensen and replacing her with Lotte Wubben-Moy for the final 25 minutes of the game. 

Ramsey was called into action several minutes later, when Miedema got into the box and, under pressure from Quinn, got a tame shot on target.

Darren Carter’s side outplayed and out-battled Arsenal, and nearly got another when Eidevall’s side failed to clear a corner, with Zinsberger and Miedema getting in one another’s way, but nobody in Blue could connect with the loose ball. 

Arsenal could have pulled a goal back in the 76th minute when Nobbs got to the edge of the area, having dispossessed Lawley, but she snatched at her shot and sent it wide.

Miedema was next into the book on 79 minutes, venting her frustration at the referee after winning a free-kick. 

Arsenal’s final opportunity to get back into the game came in the 88th minute but Mead’s delivery from a free-kick came to nothing.

It meant that Arsenal couldn’t breach the leakiest defence in the division and they dropped what may prove to be vital points at the end of the season.

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