Beth Mead inspires Arsenal to convincing win at Reading

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema (right) and Reading's Justine Vanhaevermaet battle for the ball during th

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema (right) and Reading's Justine Vanhaevermaet battle for the ball during the FA Women's Super League match at Select Car Leasing Stadium, Reading. Picture date: Sunday September 12, 2021. - Credit: PA

Beth Mead inspired Arsenal to a 4-0 away win at Reading to keep the Gunners perfect record in the Women’s Super League going at the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

Mead registered a goal and two assists as the Gunners backed up their win against Chelsea on the opening weekend with a clinical display away from home to keep the early optimism from the Arsenal faithful going.

Arsenal had the opening chance of the game inside three minutes when they built from the back as Frida Maanum switched the play out to Mead who dropped her shoulder before cutting inside but the inform star couldn’t find the target and blazed her shot over.

Arsenal's Frida Maanum (left) and Reading's Faye Bryson battle for the ball during the FA Women's Su

Arsenal's Frida Maanum (left) and Reading's Faye Bryson battle for the ball during the FA Women's Super League match at Madejski Stadium, Reading. Picture date: Sunday September 12, 2021. - Credit: PA

The Gunners should have been ahead on seven minutes as Vivianne Miedema had her shot from close range well blocked by Reading summer signing Gemma Evans before Katie McCabe headed wastefully over the top as Jonas Eidevall’s troops started with a real sense of hunger and desire.

Reading who lost their opening game to Manchester United did create a chance for themselves Chloe Peplow linked up with Rachel Rowe for the Welsh international to have a shot that failed to trouble Manuela Zinsberger.

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Arsenal’s early pressure was to be rewarded however as Jennifer Beattie put the visitors ahead on 17 minutes as McCabe floated a corner into the box allowing the Scottish international to meet it before sending a header beyond Rhiannon Stewart in the Royals goal.

Arsenal were really in control of the game beating Reading’s press at ease and on 21 minutes the home sides frustration grew when Rowe found herself in the book after clattering  into Lia Walti .

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Zinsberger then was called upon for the first time in the match as 

Emma Harries burst into the box before getting her shot away forcing the Austrian international into a smart stop.

Arsenal did hit their second on the half hour mark as Kim Little  won the ball back before giving it to Frida Maanum her shot took a deflection before Mead reacted quickest to turn the ball in and double the Gunners lead.

A minute later and it 3-0 for Eidevall’s troops when Mead won the ball out wide before she cut inside and squared the ball for Miedema who made no mistake in scoring her 101st goal for the Gunners.

Mead was causing Reading all sorts of problems as she picked up the ball once more with 35 minutes on the clock but her cross couldn’t be turned in by anyone in the box as the ball flashed across goal.

On the stroke of half-time Mead created yet another opportunity this time for herself when she got into the box before getting a shot off in on goal but it was hit with too much venom and sailed over the top.

There was time for one more talking point in the first half this time for Reading when Rowe swung in a corner for Brooke Chaplen but she couldn’t get the ball on target after being crowded out by the Arsenal defence.

Arsenal started the second half how they finished the first on top when Leah Williamson played a sensational pass into McCabe but she couldn’t control it allowing Reading to recover and clear the danger. 

It didn’t take long for Arsenal to score their fourth however ,when Miedema headed in a superb cross from the magnificent Mead who weighted the ball into the box to perfection once again

On the hour mark Eidevall made a triple change when Miedema who was on a hat-trick, Walti and Noelle Maritz were replaced by Nikita Parris, Mana Iwabuchi and Anna Patten.

The Gunners didn’t take their foot of the gas when Steph Catley put a ball into the box for Little who had her shot well blocked by Faye Bryson at the back-post. 

McCabe then had a good opportunity herself from a free-kick on 66 minutes but she floated the ball over everyone in the box and over the top of the crossbar.

With twenty minutes left of the game it was the Royals who carved out an opening as Deanne Rose on the left cut inside before she found Justine Vanhaevermaet on the edge of the box, and her effort was sent just wide of the Gunners goal. 

Rose, who helped Canada win the Gold medal at the summer Olympics, was causing Arsenal some problems as she was popping up all around the Arsenal box, she created some space for herself before getting a shot in on goal that was blocked by Patten. 

Eidevall then looked at his bench once more as he took off Catley for Alex Hennessy who was making her Women’s super league debut for the Gunners after impressing in pre-season against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

Reading despite being 4-0 behind didn’t give in and once more Zinsberger had to be alert when Rowe was almost played in by Rose but Zinsberger was off her line very quickly to snuff out the danger and claim the loose ball.

On 83 minutes McCabe found herself in the book as she was judged to be time wasting from a throw in much to the frustration of the Republic of Ireland captain. 

Reading ended the game strongly as they attempted to register themselves on the score-sheet when Natasha Harding raced down the right before crossing but to her despair nobody was there to meet the ball and turn it beyond Zinsberger.

Eidevall was then to make his final change with four minutes remaining as another youth academy product Halle Houssein who again made an impression in pre-season.

Reading should have pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when the very impressive Rose whipped an excellent ball into the box for Amalie Eikeland who was denied by a brilliant save from Zinsberger who showed some fantastic reflexes. 

It was Reading who had the final opportunity of the game when Jeon Ga-eul tried her luck from 25 yards out but her effort sailed wide of the target as Arsenal made it two wins from two to start the new league campaign. 

Arsenal: Zinsberger, Maritz (Patten 61), Beattie, Williamson, Catley (Hennessy 78), Walti (Iwabuchi 61),Little, Maanum (Houssein 86), Mead, Miedema (Parris 61), McCabe. 

Unused substitutes: Williams, Goldie, Wubben-Moy.

Reading: Stewart, Bryson (Jeon Ga-eul 90), Cooper, Evans, Woodham, Rowe, Peplow (Vanhaevermaet 53), Chaplen, Harding, H.arries (Rose 64), Eikeland

Unused substitutes: Lister and Roberts.

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