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Roord’s treble has Gunners up and running

Catherine Etoe analyses the opening exchanges of the new WSL season – including Arsenal’s 6-1 ‘statement’

10 September, 2020 — By Catherine Etoe

Netherlands international Jill Roord netted a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 6-1 win against Reading. Photo: Kunjan Malde for The FA

ARSENAL GO TOP

IN the run-up to the start of what is expected to be the most competitive top-flight professional women’s league season on these shores yet, Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro declared: “We try to make a statement every time we step out on the field.”

Well, with their 6-1 demolition job of Reading on Sunday, the Gunners certainly spelled out their Barclays FA Women’s Premier League intentions in no uncertain terms.

A Jill Roord hat-trick, Vivianne Miedema brace and a superlative strike from skipper Kim Little did for the Royals at Meadow Park.

And but for a late consolation from former Gunner Danielle Carter, it was an almost perfect team performance.

As things stand, Roord sits atop the scoring charts, and Arsenal the league table, but I doubt Montemurro is getting carried away, and not only because we are one game into the season.

“There are six, seven teams that could be vying for the top four, top three,” he said in his midweek press conference. “There are a lot of tricky teams, a lot of teams that can really unlock you. No game is easy, no game is to be taken for granted wherever you are, and that’s what makes this league, I think, the best in the world.”

TOP TALENT

If it feels as though a jumbo jet-load of big-name players have joined the rush to ink contracts with WSL clubs recently, it’s probably because they have. Many grabbed their league debuts at the weekend, not least Arsenal’s impressive Australian imports, Caitlin Foord and Matildas vice-captain Steph Catley, plus Switzerland’s Noelle Maritz and Malin Gut.

Elsewhere, Alanna Kennedy, another Matilda with World Cup experience, appeared for Tottenham in their 1-1 draw with West Ham, while record signing, Denmark skipper Pernille Harder, and former Bayern Munich captain Melanie Leupolz turned out for Chelsea in a disappointing 1-1 away draw for Emma Hayes’ reigning champions against Manchester United. The transfer window closes today (Thursday).

HAYES THE ROCK

I’ve rated Emma Hayes since interviewing her for this newspaper almost 20 years ago.

I’m even more impressed by the former Parliament Hill School pupil after hearing how she helped Chelsea striker Fran Kirby through her recovery from pericarditis. Here’s a snapshot of what Kirby told the media about her manager.

“She’s been my rock, my go-to,” said Kirby.

“She was the one questioning the doctor all the time: ‘Can we try this? Can we try that?’ She was always the one trying to find the answers and trying to help. When I wasn’t feeling great I could just go into her office and cry in front of her and not feel embarrassed. She was amazing.”

TUNE IN

On Saturday, Arsenal face West Ham away in a football pilot event to test the return of spectators. Up to 1,000 West Ham season ticket holders can attend the match, which will be broadcast by BT Sport at 5.20pm. On Sunday, Chelsea entertain Bristol City and Tottenham are away to Everton, with both matches live on the FA Player.

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