SECOND-HALF strikes from Dominique Janssen and Jordan Nobbs saw Liverpool Ladies slip to a 2-0 home defeat with Arsenal also missing a first-half penalty.
After playing a rotated side against Manchester City last weekend, and losing Becky Easton to a broken arm, there were a number of changes to the starting 11. Martha Harris returned to right-back among an otherwise unchanged backline featuring Gemma Bonner, Satara Murray and Mayumi Pacheco with Libby Stout in goal.
In midfield Kate Longhurst, Katrin Omarsdottir and Katie Zelem returned to the line up. Ashley Hodson was positioned on the right of the attack with Natasha Dowie and Rosie White retaining their places.
Arsenal were looking to put pressure on Chelsea Ladies at the top of the table and their intent was clear from the first whistle as they constantly closed down Liverpool, pressing high up the pitch.
But it was the Reds that had the game’s first chance, Zelem providing a lovely through ball to Dowie who carried it forward down the right wing before cutting in behind former England captain Casey Stoney and firing just wide of the post.
Most of Arsenal’s attacks came down the right, with Danielle Carter linking well with Alex Scott. One clever pass from Carter was sent whizzing across the face of goal by Scott, Nobbs connecting with the rebound but hitting her shot straight at Stout.
At the other end, Arsenal keeper Sari Van Veenendaal was quick off her line to snuff out the attack after Pacheco had tried to play in Hodson and she was called into action again soon after, saving a curled effort from White, who later saw an attempt to lob the Gunners stopper dip just over the bar.
As the game approached half-time, Murray conceded a penalty but, luckily for the Reds, Natalia stepped up to send a weak spot kick wide of the post and the score remained 0-0.
Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure in the second-half, Stout tipping away Carter’s strike and Bonner denying Carter with a great sliding interception.
The Liverpool defender then had her side’s best chance to take the lead, volleying White’s corner goal wards from close range only to be somehow denied by an excellent save from Van Veenendaal.
From the corner there was more panic in the Arsenal area when Hodson’s shot was spilled but the Reds were unable to capitalise.
Liverpool seemed to be getting on top with Longhurst playing higher up the pitch and Lucy Staniforth coming on for Zelem. But it was then that Arsenal took the lead. The Gunners were awarded a free kick yards from the 18-yard box and Janssen stepped up and converted the set piece with a well-taken strike.
Liverpool almost pulled a goal back immediately through Staniforth as the midfielder spotted Van Veenendaal off her line and attempted to lob her from the halfway line but the impressive effort was matched by an equally impressive tip over the bar by the retreating keeper.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Arsenal doubled their lead with Nobbs finishing past Stout from the edge of the six-yard box.
Liverpool thought they had pulled a goal back when a Staniforth free kick looked to be over the line but the assistant referee said no goal and the game ended in disappointment for the Reds.
LIVERPOOL: Stout, Harris, Bonner, Murray, Pacheco, Longhurst, Omarsdottir (Smorsgard 78), Zelem (Staniforth 63), Hodson, White, Dowie.
Player of the match: Martha Harris
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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo