Vivianne Miedema’s first goal since 2022 keeps Arsenal on title track

Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema (centre) celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Barclays Women's Super League match at Prenton Park, Birkenhead. Picture date: Sunday January 28, 2024

The Women’s Super League’s all-time record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema scored for the first time since December 2022 to help Arsenal keep pace with their title rivals by beating Liverpool 2-0.

The Holland striker’s first goal since recovering from the anterior cruciate ligament injury which meant she missed last summer’s World Cup was a powerfully struck effort from range that opened the scoring in front of a jubilant set of travelling fans at Prenton Park.

Miedema, who returned to first-team action for Arsenal in October but had been slowly and carefully building up her match minutes and sharpness, had not scored for 413 days.

She said: “The way the girls celebrated with me says enough. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve worked really hard for that.

“Since the winter, I feel like a different player again and I feel so much more like me, and it’s just really nice that this one has been ticked off and we can all move on.”

Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal (obscured) celebrates scoring her team's first goal with teammates during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Prenton Park on January 28, 2024 in Birkenhead, England
Arsenal's players were jubilant after Miedema opened the scoring - Getty Images/Cameron Smith

It was Miedema’s 79th goal in the WSL, stretching her lead as the division’s leading scorer, and although her effort on the hour mark appeared to take a slight deflection, the nature of the strike, hit from range, demonstrated her increasing confidence.

She added: “It’s funny because this morning on the bus I said to Beth [Mead], ‘It just feel good today, I feel like I’ve been training really well, I’ve been scoring a lot of goals in training, so it might happen here’, and I read online that I am pretty decent at scoring against Liverpool as well, so I thought ‘I need to keep up that stat’ and yes, as I said, it’s just really nice that it actually went in and that first one is gone now.”

Arsenal, who doubled their lead when Alessia Russo squared for Caitlin Foord nine minutes later, have won all 11 of their away WSL fixtures against Liverpool and remain third in the table, three points behind leaders Chelsea.

The north London club’s head coach Jonas Eidevall said he could feel that Miedema’s first goal since her return had been coming this month.

He said: “There is a difference when you return to play physically the first time, and you’re physically ready to step on the pitch, but then there are a lot of other factors that are going to go into your performance: Your self-confidence, your timing, your technical execution, your explosiveness, And those things usually take a little bit of time to build during that period. How long? It’s individual, of course.

“You can see, when you follow Viv’s performances, that they have gone from strong to stronger, this month here. She’s in a really strong momentum and I think, given that, it was only a matter of time before [her] first goal was going to come, but it came at a really good time today. I’m pleased for her and seeing her positive development is important for both her and the team.”

Arsenal and England centre-back Leah Williamson is also back in the squad after her own ACL injury but although she made her return to competitive action away at Reading in the League Cup on Wednesday, she was an unused substitute on Sunday.

Eidevall said it was “incredible” to have Williamson back but explained he would manage her minutes carefully, adding: “Leah was available to play but not for many minutes today, as a plan of that, and sometimes that opportunity comes where we can use that and sometimes like today I felt we needed other things to manage the game, and it’s not going to be anything that hinders her from her progression for that.

“She has the opportunity for a great training week ahead of her, and competing for minutes against West Ham.”

Liverpool stay fifth, 10 points behind Arsenal. The Merseyside club’s manager Matt Beard said his team will not be signing any players before Wednesday’s WSL transfer deadline, adding: “We’re happy with the squad, we’re fine with what we’ve got, we’ll be concentrating on the summer window. We’re in a good place, we just need to make sure we go on a run now where we pick points up again.”

Elsewhere, Manchester City were 2-0 winners at Tottenham to stay second, while there were also valuable away wins for Leicester City and West Ham United, with the latter moving three points clear of the drop zone.

Match details

Liverpool (4-3-3): Laws 7; Fisk 6 (Clark 6, 70), Bonner 6, Fahey 5, Matthews 6; Holland 6, Nagano 7, Lundgaard 6 (Hobinger 7, 70); Daniels 6 (Haug 6, 60), Van de Sanden 6 (Enderby 6, 70), Lawley 6 (Koivisto 6, 70) 
Subs not used: Kearns, Micah (gk), Perry
Yellow cards: Matthews, Daniels, Lawley, Koivisto
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Zinsberger 6; Fox 8, Ilestedt 6, Wubben-Moy 7, McCabe 6 (Catley 6, 72); Pelova 7 (Maanum 6, 86), Walti 6; Mead 6 (Lacasse 6, 86), Miedema 8 (Little 6, 71), Foord 8; Russo 7 (Blackstenius 6, 71)
Subs not used: Williamson, D’Angelo (gk), Codina, Cooney-Cross
Yellow cards: McCabe
Referee: Rebecca Welch (Tyne & Wear)
Attendance: 6,085

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