Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
Events on the pitch would suggest that there has not yet been a North London power-shift in women’s football; that Tottenham drew 38,262 to this, the Women’s Super League’s first-ever North London derby, gives Spurs reason to suggest otherwise. The FA’s inaugural Women’s Football Weekend played out more like an episode of Record Breakers, but even Roy Castle never saw this many records tumble in the span of three hours.
The cumulative attendance for Sunday’s six WSL games was 74,247 - a league record. The FA’s only aim was to beat the 63,931 that watched on the opening weekend. Liverpool Women's 23,500 is a record for them in the WSL era. At Kingsmeadow, Chelsea and Manchester United produced a record attendance for a WSL game in a women team’s own stadium (4,790).
Cynics may have wondered if Manchester City and Chelsea - the only Super League clubs hosting games at their own grounds this weekend - had missed a trick, but isn’t the whole point of this weekend, and two days without any men’s Premier League and Championship football, to inspire some kind of carryover into the domestic season?
Exactly how many of those 38,262 will return to watch Spurs’ next WSL home game, against Brighton on Dec 12, remains the perennial elephant in the room, as it will be at Brighton, and Reading, and Liverpool - the three other clubs who moved their games to men’s stadiums. Chelsea’s average of 4,470 from their last two home games is actually the most impressive - and sustainable - feat of the weekend.
But even before Sunday, the average WSL attendance this season worked out at 4,112 - up 313 per cent on last. Even without those one-off games in men's stadiums, the average WSL attendance has increased by 45 per cent - an average increase of 425 per club - to 1,390. WSL games so far this season have attracted 193,247 people through the gates; 107,000 attended all 110 games last season.
Neither club here would be drawn on when or if their clubs will return to their parent grounds but there was ample reflection on Spurs’ journey up to this point, from two head coaches who were once asked to make sandwiches, earn minibus licences to drive the first team and to pay referees from their own pockets.
“I think it’s absolutely momentous for Spurs Women and incredible to see how far we’ve actually come over the 10, 11 years that myself and Juan [Amoros] have been involved,” said Karen Hills, the joint Spurs Women head coach. “It shouldn’t be a moment - it should be something that becomes the norm. You want to see women play in these big stadiums, with big crowds. It’s been a progress, a journey, and one that I wouldn’t change for the world.”
Amoros reflected on his arrival at the club a decade ago. “I think we lost 6-0, 7-0,” he said. “I remember sending that report to Karen and it was eight pages of things that we needed to change. We had a dream. For us to be here now is unbelievable.”
It will take more than six league games for Spurs to uproot Arsenal’s 32-year stranglehold on women’s football. A demonstration of the on-field gap that still exists between these two sides arrived in the form of Kim Little’s sumptuous half-volley well into the second half.
By that point Spurs had been reduced to defending so last-ditch that Hannah Godfrey had been left horizontal and in need of medical treatment keeping out Vivianne Miedema’s driven effort, but prior to that their resistance had been staunch. It was difficult to believe that the last meeting between this pair, in pre-season this year, ended in a 6-0 Arsenal win given the ease, for the most part, with which Spurs’ Ashleigh Neville contained the wheeling Miedema’s scurrying runs down the right.
The problem for Spurs is that they could not keep her silent. Anna Filbey will go to bed haunted by the image of Miedema bearing down her shoulder: it was Filbey whose slip, deep into the second half, enabled Miedema to deliver a carbon copy of the low finishes she has delivered for Arsenal so many times, and Filbey’s header, rising to keep out her Dutch adversary, that fell for Little to slam her left-footed clip into the bottom corner.
It is no longer worth asserting that Spurs can upset the established order in the WSL - the question is instead how drastically they will do so. Furness and Green, Spurs’ vibrant midfield fulcrum to rival Little, supplied endless deliveries from deep and nullified Jordan Nobbs in the No10 role. Spurs looked their most dangerous when they were able to unleash Kit Graham and Rianna Dean to slash at Jennifer Beattie.
Yet Spurs would probably admit that their decision-making in the final third - Furness twice needlessly missing from distance - needs some work before it matches Arsenal’s. Dean latched on to a lovely clipped ball over the top and controlled swiftly before shooting wide, but Arsenal, with Beth Mead heading over from Nobbs’ cross and Miedema slamming wide from Danielle van de Donk’s lay-off, otherwise had the better of the chances.
Spurs Spencer; Neville, Gofrey, Filbey, Worm (Davison 83); Percival, Peplow (Quinn 76), Furness, Green (Ayane 79); Graham, Dean.
Bookings Neville, Furness, Peplow. Subs not used: Morgan (g), Haines, Leon, Schillaci
Arsenal Zinsberger; Evans, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe; Walti, Little, Nobbs (Nobbs 87); Van de Donk, Mead (Maier 85); Miedema. Subs not used Quinn, Mitchell, Schnaderbeck, Peyraud Magnin.
Referee Abigail Bryne
Full time: Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
That's it, then. Arsenal win the first ever north London derby in the Women's Super League in front of a record 38,000 crowd.
Tottenham had the better chances in the first half, but Arsenal's superior quality shone through as the game wore on and Spurs legs tired. In Nobbs, Williamson, Mead, Van de Donk and in particular goal-scorers Miedema and Little, Arsenal just have so much class, and that was simply too much for newly-promoted Spurs.
A very, very entertaining game, that, and a wonderful advert for the WSL. Thoroughly enjoyable stuff.
90 mins + 3 - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
Neville makes a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Van de Donk a chance to make it 3-0. Great commitment.
90 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
Graham strikes a volley at goal and she connects with it perfectly. It is travelling at some speed when it is blocked... by striker partner Dean. It hits her so hard she needs treatment.
Play is then restarted in bizarre fashion - with an uncontested drop ball on the edge of the Arsenal box, with only Tottenham forward Graham near it. She scoops a ball into the Arsenal area when surely she could have just shot? Weird, that.
Five minutes will be added on.
87 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
Zinsberger is down after landing awkwardly. Arsenal are readying another change. A-class game management, this.
Jill Roord will replace Jordan Nobbs.
85 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
A first Arsenal change: Mead is replaced by Leonie Maier.
83 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 2
Gemma Davison comes on for Worm as Spurs make a third and final change.
GOOOOOAL! Miedema makes it 2-0 to Arsenal!
A tired, tired backpass from Filbey - that's the player who was earlier complaining of cramp - is pounced upon by Miedema and she takes it around Spencer before firing into an empty net. Game over.
A record-breaking day in north London
Attendance at Spurs v Arsenal is 38,262 - a new record for the WSL— Katie Whyatt (@KatieWhyatt) November 17, 2019
79 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1
Neville is booked for scything down a freewheeling Beth Mead.
Rosella Ayane comes on for Green for Spurs.
78 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1
Wonderful play from Furness to take a really difficult ball down under pressure before driving through midfield. She has runners in both directions but - not for the first time today - opts to shoot from a long, long way out. Zinsberger saves with ease.
76 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1
Finally a change for Spurs: Chloe Peplow is replaced by Lucy Quinn.
75 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1
Cool, calm stuff from Arsenal, who are making the pitch absolutely massive and controlling possession really well here. Spurs can't get near it.
72 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1
Bizarrely, still no changes for either side. There are plenty of tired legs out there. Filbey just went down and it was clear she was saying "I've got cramp". Yet she remains on the pitch. A Spurs response is needed.
GOAAAAAAAL! Little scores for Arsenal!
Nobbs lofts a ball forward to Miedema which pushes the Spurs defence back into their own box. Godfrey rises to head clear, and Kim Little is there to collect the ball on the edge of the Tottenham box. She takes it down beautifully, works it onto her left foot and plants a great shot inside the left-hand post. 1-0 to Arsenal!
63 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal break with Little going clear down the right. She tries to put Mead in with a low ball across the box but Neville gets back to clear.
Will Joe Montemurro try to impact the game from the bench?
62 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Spurs, now attacking their single-tier stand, get a moment's respite as Dean wins a corner. Graham wastes it with a woeful cross.
60 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal are on top now and there is just no let up for Spurs. Miedema fires a left-footed effort at the top corner from the edge of the box but it just misses the outside of the post.
Spurs can't get a foothold in this at the moment. Arsenal are growing in confidence.
58 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Furness earns a yellow card after jumping into Little.
57 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal are turning the screw here. Van de Donk, Nobbs and Mead combine well on the edge of the Spurs box and Mead so nearly gets in, but for a great last-ditch tackle from Filbey.
53 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Little dances into the Spurs box, and very nearly gets in around the back Neville, but the Tottenham right-back does well to get a toe in and concede a corner at the last moment.
52 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Van de Donk slips Evans in with a lovely pass, and Evans' cut-back is just cut out at the last moment by Peplow.
Arsenal come again with Little finding Miedema, who lines up a thunderous shot from the edge of the box. Godfrey heroically sticks her head in the way of the shot and falls to the floor poleaxed after keeping it out.
Play is stopped but she soon recovers to get back on the field.
48 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Spurs break in numbers and all of a sudden it opens up for them. It's four on two in the home side's favour... Furness carries it forward and has options left and right. For some unfathomable reason she shoots from almost 30 yards and it is blocked, before trickling out for a corner. What a waste that is.
The players are back out
Thoroughly enjoyed that first half. More of the same please.
No changes for either side.
Half time: Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
What a half of football that was. Arsenal started far the better team - and generally looked the more comfortable in possession - but Spurs had the two best chances of the half, with Graham and Dean wasting one-on-one opportunities.
Arsenal responded well, though, and might well have taken the lead just before the break. Spurs could be made to pay for not taking their chances.
45 mins + 1 - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Williamson meets the corner but heads wide at the back post.
45 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
A clearly tiring Spurs are eagerly awaiting the half time whistle. Evans is brought down by Worm with just under a minute of the half remaining. Arsenal will load the box...
A large crowd is in attendance at Tottenham
41 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal's best move of the game as Mead dances through a few challenges and gets the ball out to Van de Donk on the right. She slips a lovely ball to Little inside the box, who then pulls back a cross for Mead but she turns it over the bar.
36 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
First yellow card of the day and it is the easiest decision of the referee's career as Chloe Peplow pulls Little back in midfield and just refuses to let go of her opponent's arm.
It's been a competitive start to this game.
35 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
This time it's Arsenal's turn to go close as Van de Donk cuts the ball back to McCabe who is storming into the area. She takes a touch and then fires just over the bar.
33 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Another Spurs chance! Dean is put in on goal down the left by a wonderful pass from Peplow, and she has time to take the ball down and line up a shot. The angle quickly narrows, though and Dean tries to bend an effort inside the far post but she doesn't wrap her foot around it and ends up missing by a distance.
Spurs could be made to regret these misses.
31 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Kit Graham works a yard on the edge of the box and fires a brilliant effort towards the top corner. Zinsberger is rooted and completely beaten... it just beats the post and hits the stanchion, convincing a few people in the ground that it actually went in.
30 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Furness lines up an effort from what looks a ludicrous distance but she catches it beautifully and it fizzes only just over the bar.
28 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
First sight of goal for Miedema as full-back McCabe picks her out after getting in down the left. Spurs throw bodies at the Arsenal forward and crowd her out... just.
25 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
This game is being played at breakneck speed and there have been a few openings already as the teams get stretched. Van de Donk almost gets in down the left but Godfrey gets across to cover well.
22 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Spurs are growing into this game and Arsenal have shown an uncharacteristic shaky side at the back. Williamson shows her frustration after heading the ball straight into a team-mate, but it lands safely this time.
20 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Biggest chance of the game and it goes Tottenham's way. It's completely against the run of play as Rianna Dean gets in on goal after a mistake by Beattie - but she slams her shot straight into Zinsberger in the Arsenal goal.
19 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Furness tries to put Dean in on goal with a clever, early pass, but Leah Williamson does superbly to slide in and stop her in her tracks.
17 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Brilliant stuff from Beth Mead as she skips away from the challenges of Neville and Godfrey. It then opens up for her and she looks for the far top corner, but her effort goes just wide.
15 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Free-kick for Arsenal 25 yards from goal. Left of centre. Mead is over it. She lines up a shot... but puts it straight into the wall.
13 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Van de Donk slips Miedema through but Spencer does well to get off her line quickly and smother at the striker's feet.
12 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Spurs are having to work really hard out of possession, with Arsenal predictably dominating the early exchanges, and when they do win it they need to take better advantage on the break. Furness wins the ball and releases Graham, but she is isolated and gets crowded out quickly.
8 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal looking far the more dangerous side so far. Evans is getting forward well from right-back, she fizzes a ball into Van de Donk, who controls brilliantly and sets it back for Little. She shoots first time but it is straight at Spencer in the Spurs goal.
5 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Kim Little darts through the heart of the Spurs team with a really positive run but she is eventually halted by Godfrey.
4 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
The rivalry among supporters is already shining through, with chants of "Arsenal, Arsenal" from the away end met with a chorus of boos.
2 mins - Tottenham 0 Arsenal 0
Van de Donk starts positively, exchanging neat passes with Miedema on the edge of the Spurs box, but Neville does well to clear.
Spurs get the north London derby started.
The players are out
And kick-off is just moments away.
A big crowd is expected in N17 today
The teams are in
It's a fearsome-looking Arsenal team, with Jordan Nobbs starting and Vivianne Miedema leading the line.
North London derby day
It's the first derby between Tottenham and Arsenal of the Women's Super League era and what a place to stage it too, at the impressive Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The current WSL attendance record is 31,213 for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on the opening day of the season but Tottenham are hopeful of setting a new highest mark when they host today's game at the 62,06-seat stadium.
On the pitch, newly-promoted Spurs could go level with their opponents with victory, having taken nine points from their opening five WSL matches.
But Arsenal are not champions for any old reason and have themselves started the season with four victories and and just the one defeat.
The last time these two met in a competitive fixture was in March 2017 when Arsenal thrashed Spurs 10-0 in the FA Cup, while in this summer's pre-season friendly, North London was again red as Arsenal won 6-0. Spurs will be desperate to close that gap further this time around and ensure they give their home fans something to cheer.
Team news coming up...