Manchester City Women crashed to their heaviest professional defeat as Arsenal ran riot at Meadow Park to top the WSL table.
First half goals from Vivianne Miedema and Kim Little put the Gunners in command, and further goals from Katie McCabe and Leah Williamson sandwiched a penalty from Little to complete a miserable evening for the blues and condemn them to their second successive WSL defeat.
The blues were still smarting following their last outing, when Spurs inflicted a late and controversial defeat, but there was no denying the quality of Arsenal’s win, which see the blues sink to 8th in the league, while the Gunners enjoy life at the summit.
Although manager Gareth Southgate is insistent that it’s too early to rule City out of the title race, the blues have work to do to get themselves back up to standard before too much ground is lost.
But, with an etensive injury list that has both Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze out injured, it was always going to be a tall order to gain another win against the Gunners, particularly since the London side look to have rediscovered their form.
Beth Mead, who was been in fine form for the Gunners since winning back her place in the England squad, was instrumental for the first goal, as she chased down a poor backpass from Alanna Kennedy. She beat keeper Karima Taieb to the ball and passed to an unmarked Miedema, and the lethal striker was never going to miss from just inside the penalty area.
Thirteen minutes later and the blues found themselves 2-0 down. Little had three players around her as she scrambled towards the penalty area, and she managed to dig the ball from under her feet and rifle a shot past Taieb into the top corner.
It was an unusualu position for City to find themselves in and Taylor had his work cut out to find a solution to stop the relentless Arsenal pressure, but unfortunately for Taylor and City, it only got worse.
A long ball over the top from the Arsenal defence found McCabe in acres of space behind the City defence. McCabe controlled, held off two defenders and fired into roof of the net for 3-0.
Ellen White came closest for City when she hit the bar after being put through by Vicky Losada, but her luck wasn’t in on this occasion. On another day, the net would have rippled, but sadly for White and City, luck wasn’t on their side.
It was a matter of damage limitation now for City, and Taylor hauled off Losada, Lauren Hemp and Janine Beckie within seven minutes of each other, replacing with Bunny Shaw, Jill Scott and Jess Park, however just a minute after Scott’s introduction, Arsenal had a fourth.
Another attack down the Arsenal left saw Mead released and her ball across the penalty area found Little, however the trailing legs of Alex Greenwood also found the Arsenal player and the referee awarded a penalty.
Little dusted herself off and hammered home to spot kick and Arsenal were sending a clear message to the rest of the WSL, even more so when Williamson scored their fifth deep into injury time.
A cross from the right found the stand-in England captain unmarked in the box, and WIlliamson diverted her header beyond the despairing dive of Taieb to complete City’s humbling.
The blues now have to pick themselves up and prepare for the visit of Leicester for Wednesday night’s FA Cup quarter final clash at the Academy Stadium, before welcoming West Ham on Sunday, and manager Taylor will have a lot to think about before then.
Final score: Arsenal Women 5-0 Manchester City Women