Manchester United failed to get all three points against Arsenal in a 1-1 draw at Meadow, as they missed out on the chance to go closer to the top of the Super League table.
Coming off a rather disappointing loss to Chelsea in the Conti Cup, United were facing Arsenal just a couple of weeks after beating the Gunners in the Conti Cup through a late Alessia Russo header. And Arsenal came into the game following a 1-0 win over London City in the FA Cup.
United fielded two new signings against the Gunners on Saturday, as Signe Brunn started in the attacking midfield spot and Irish defender Diane Caldwell stepped up at centre-back, starting alongside Maria Thorisdottir.
After having served her suspension, Hayley Ladd returned in defensive midfield and Ella Toone started upfront too. United players wore a black armband to commemorate the Munich Air Disaster.
The Red Devils started really well and pressed Arsenal from the off, causing them problems in keeping hold of possession. Ona Batlle carved out the first chance of the game, as her shot from around 20 yards was saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.
Just like how United had scored against Arsenal in the Conti Cup, they took the lead once again. This time, Katie Zelem’s corner met the head of Alessia Russo, who scored once again against Arsenal to hand the Reds an early lead.
Some minutes later, Leah Galton came close to adding a second but her shot skimmed just wide.
Vivianne Miedema had a golden chance to make it 1-1 after he had beaten the right side of United defence and was almost 1v1 against Mary Earps, but the United goalkeeper made a sublime save to tip the Dutch forward’s attempt at the post and to keep the score at 1-0.
Ladd almost made it 2-0 for Marc Skinner’s side just before the half time whistle, when she headed Zelem’s set-piece very well. But she failed to find the back of the net.
Earps was called into action once again in the second half, after Caitlin Foord found herself completely unmarked at the back post but Earps made a fine save to deny the substitute at point blank range.
A coming together in the 75th minute between Batlle and Katie McCabe saw the Arsenal player get sent off following her second yellow card, reducing Arsenal to ten men at a time when they really needed a goal, considering the context of the season.
Four minutes later, Arsenal did draw level. Stina Blackstenius was put through on goal by the mercurial Miedema and the Swede made no mistake in drawing Arsenal level - just weeks after she was strongly linked with a move to United.
A win would have taken United to just being two points behind Arsenal but they now slip to third behind Chelsea, who have two games in hand over both United and the Gunners and are only five behind the league leaders.