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Arsenal 4 (Davison 27, Little 33, Houghton 47, Beattie 69)
Birmingham City 2 (Williams 50, Taylor 82)
Arsenal powered five points clear at the top of the FA WSL after producing an excellent display to beat main rivals Birmingham City in their top of the table clash at Boreham Wood.
The two sides went into the game sporting an unbeaten record and although Birmingham started brightly, Arsenal began to wrest control of matters and began to create a series of chances.
Firstly, Kim Little fired a 25-yard effort over the bar after the ball had cannoned off the referee and into her path, then Jordan Nobbs brought out a save from Rebecca Spencer after holding off the attentions of Chelsea Weston.
Nobbs sent a free header wide from a Gemma Davison cross before Arsenal went even closer as a dangerous cross from Rachel Yankey was touched onto the bar by Spencer and Davison hit the angle of post and bar from the rebound.
The increasing pressure eventually told and Arsenal took the lead from a Little corner, from which Davison thumped a bullet header into the back of the net.
Little drove a shot wide from the edge of the area but the Scottish international was not to be denied two minutes later after a Yankey centre was not dealt with by Spencer and Little was on hand to drill the ball firmly into the far corner for the second goal.
Birmingham responded just before half time with their first serious attempt on goal as Jo Potter squared a pass along the edge of the area for Rachel Unitt whose well struck shot was held by Emma Byrne, but Arsenal fully deserved their two-goal lead going into the interval.
Birmingham introduced Eniola Aluko as a half time substitute and she tested Emma Byrne with a low shot with her first touch of the ball but the Blues were flattened by another blow within two minutes of the restart.
Steph Houghton picked up the ball around 30 yards from goal and unleashed a shot which squirmed through the hands of the unfortunate Spencer and in to put the Gunners three ahead.
The Blues desperately needed a response and they got themselves back into the game three minutes later. Potter swung in a corner from the right which was met at the near post by Rachel Williams whose header went in via a deflection of Niamh Fahey. To make matters worse for Fahey, she suffered a head injury at the same time and had to be replaced by Jennifer Beattie.
The goal gave Birmingham renewed hope but they could not make any further ground as Arsenal stayed strong with Katie Chapman once again commanding matters in midfield. Aluko did twice threaten to break through on goal but on both occasions she was halted by fine challenges from Ciara Grant.
Houghton headed a Little cross wide at the far post and Birmingham hit back straight away, Weston's long pass picking out Jodie Taylor whose first touch was excellent but she skied her shot over the bar.
Arsenal then netted a decisive fourth goal when Little floated a free kick into the area and Beattie sent a looping header over Spencer.
The goal also heralded the moment that the Arsenal supporters had been waiting for - the introduction of Kelly Smith as a substitute for the England star's first appearance since rejoining the club.
Birmingham did show good spirit and sought to reduce the deficit with Jade Moore's stinging effort being saved by Byrne and Aluko curling a shot just over the bar. Their efforts were rewarded as Williams fed Taylor, who lifted an excellent shot over Byrne and into the far corner of the net.
Taylor's great strike was no more than a consolation though and Arsenal's overall performance showed that they are going to take a lot of stopping in this campaign.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Niamh Fahey (sub Jennifer Beattie 52mins), Steph Houghton, Gilly Flaherty, Ciara Grant, Gemma Davison (sub Ellen White 63mins), Jordan Nobbs (sub Kelly Smith 69mins), Kim Little, Katie Chapman, Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Sophie Harris, Yvonne Tracy, Danielle Carter, Bianca Bragg.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston (sub Isobel Christiansen 90mins), Rachel Unitt (sub Eniola Aluko 45mins), Emily Westwood, Kerys Harrop, Laura Bassett, Jade Moore, Rachel Williams, Jodie Taylor, Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Marie Hourihan, Marie Ballard, Crissy Torkildsen.
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