December 4, 2021

McCabe shines as Arsenal sweep aside Everton to stay on top of WSL

Katie McCabe delivered another stunning performance to help Arsenal extend their perfect Women’s Super League start with a 3-0 win over Everton.

The versatile left-back created multiple chances and scored a screamer to put her team ahead. Arsenal’s fifth straight win leaves them three points clear of Chelsea and Tottenham at the top. Chelsea beat Leicester 2-0 on Sunday but Spurs surrendered their 100% record, losing 2-1 at Brighton.

McCabe, named player of the match, was used at left-back here but is capable in midfield positions. “She [McCabe] is so versatile and she has played a little bit as an attacking midfielder for us this year,” Arsenal’s manager, Jonas Eidevall, said. “I think she has been brilliant when she has been doing that as well. In all those positions she will give you the pace, she will give you the dribbles with her left foot and her crosses and finishes.

“She can play in a lot of different positions. What I really like about Katie is she can bring different things to the team depending on where you have her.”

McCabe started well but it was Nikita Parris and Vivianne Miedema who had early chances which Everton saw off cleanly. The game slowed midway through the first half but then came the Arsenal onslaught.

Kim Little found acres of space, only for Rikke Sevecke to dispossess Arsenal’s captain clinically. Miedema fired yards wide shortly after but Everton’s defence held strong until McCabe struck a perfect ball that curled on target and sailed over the stretching arm of the goalkeeper Sandy MacIver.

Eidevall’s side were then rocket-propelled in attack, with chances flooding in, notably from Noëlle Maritz. It was not long before Everton’s afternoon went from bad to worse as McCabe drilled in a corner and Lotte Wubben-Moy doubled the lead. There was a heart-in-mouth moment as Everton’s Gabby George, who returned to action in February after a year out with injury, remained on the floor after the corner but thankfully she was able to continue.

Everton almost clawed one back before the interval with the ball just going beyond Toni Duggan but the second half saw more Arsenal dominance. The visitors conceded two early corners and Leah Williamson was ever dependable in defence, leading from the back and staving off Everton pressure.

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Although Everton did not put in a bad performance, they were not clinical enough. It summed up their afternoon when Izzy Christiansen attempted to clear her lines, slipped to her knees and gifted the ball straight back to Arsenal.

Heading into the closing 30 minutes, Arsenal threw everything at Everton, forcing MacIver into two sensational saves from Tobin Heath and McCabe. The goalkeeper continued to display her skill, blocking a strike from Beth Mead, but her ability was not replicated elsewhere and Everton failed to register a shot on target in the second half.

Arsenal kept pressing and Frida Maanum scored the goal of the match. Standing outside the box, she smashed a shot into the top left-hand corner, with MacIver unable to do anything to stop it.

The Everton manager, Willie Kirk, whose side have also lost 4-0 to Manchester City and Chelsea, said: “I think we need to believe in ourselves more as a team. I think defensively we got ourselves in a good position. We had worked on them, stopping certain passes that Arsenal would make. But we got to that position and we were happy to hold that position rather than seeing it through.

“The flip side of that is Kim Little gets herself in a good position to stop a dangerous pass and she goes and sees it through. There are elements of the game we need to be more aggressive in and I think that comes down to giving a little bit too much respect to certain badges.”