Not content to pass the record for Women’s Super League goals scored, Vivianne Miedema’s first-half hat-trick ensured she did so in style, taking her tally to a staggering 52 goals in 50 games in a 6-1 crushing of rivals Tottenham.
The Dutch all-time record goalscorer levelled the 49 goals scored by the former Manchester City forward Nikita Parris, in 110 games, against Brighton last week, overtaking City striker Ellen White (48 in 104) in the process, to put her primed and ready to pounce in the north London derby.
Where it took 70 minutes for Arsenal to undo a resilient Spurs defence in the FA Cup three weeks ago, eventually scoring four, this time by half-time Joe Montemurro’s side were 5-0 up.
A stunning free-kick from Republic of Ireland winger Katie McCabe gave the home team the lead in the fourth minute and from then Arsenal remained resolutely camped in the opposing half.
Three minutes later Miedema had the record. Sweeping down the left wing she slipped a pass to her compatriot Danielle van de Donk. The latter, sensing the run of her teammate, flicked the ball on with the side of her foot into the path of the advancing Miedema who collected and fired across goal and into the far corner.
A loud cheer went up from the Arsenal staff in a quiet and cool Meadow Park and there were even a couple of high-fives and a small smile from the stalking forward who rarely celebrates.
With Arsenal playing with some serious swagger, despite severely depleted forces, a lofted long ball from centre back Leah Williamson found Australian forward Caitlin Foord who rolled the ball past Becky Spencer.
Then it was Miedema’s turn again. A McCabe free-kick was this time slipped to the Netherlands forward on the right and her on-target shot deflected off defender Alanna Kennedy and in.
After Tottenham, who have failed to build on the point they earned in a 1-1 draw with West Ham on the opening day of the season, went four down and struggled to push out of their own half, co-managers Juan Amoros and Karen Hills pulled off Gemma Davison and Lucy Quinn to help prevent the almost comical collapse taking place in front of them.
Five minutes later, though, the 24-year-old Miedema had her third, picking up Foord’s pass on the left and smacking her shot past Spencer. This was a playful performance from Miedema who, as Arsenal stretched their legs, began to play with the Spurs players as a cat would with a barely-alive mouse, diving back to force a throw deep in her own half one minute and cooly dancing around three midfielders before slipped the ball backwards or pulling players away and out of position the next.
“We always talk about her goals and her finishing but the amount of work she does off the ball, creating space knowing when to trigger the press is incredible,” said Montemurro. “When people can come to see our games again I urge people to watch the work she does off the ball and that’s the mark of a great player.”
A bench of four, including two youth team players and goalkeeper Lydia Williams making her return to the match day squad following injury, reflected the biggest trouble Montemurro currently faces as they attempt to compete in three competitions. Seven first team players are currently sidelined and with this Arsenal’s third season in a row to be hampered by a debilitating injury cross the manager conceded there was a “massive internal review” taking place at the club.
Then, it was six, Beth Mead whipping a low cross in from the right and Foord’s shot deflected off right back Ashleigh Neville and in.
There was hope for Spurs when substitute Lucia Leon went down a little too easily under pressure from McCabe but Manuela Zinsberger dived the right way for Rianna Dean’s resulting spot-kick and right-back Ashleigh Neville put the rebound over.
With 13 minutes remaining though Spurs had their consolation, a first goal against the Gunners in their last three attempts, Leon heading past Zinsberger from a corner.