For now, Arsenal’s injury problems have not hampered results. On paper, Reading were probably the best opponents – without a win in their last 12 league games prior to Sunday night and with just five shots on target in their opening two WSL games.
The lack of threat was evident in the first half and Arsenal broke through on the half-hour mark when captain Kim Little turned and laid out for striker Stina Blackstenius, who sweetly slotted her shot into the bottom corner with her second touch.
A flurry of Arsenal chances early in the second half could have turned this into a hammer blow. They hit the post twice – Katie McCabe’s cross deflected in and Blackstenius’ header – and then referee Louise Saunders rightly awarded Arsenal a penalty when Lily Woodham’s flailing arm caught Beth Mead’s cross. But Little’s poorly taken penalty was saved by Jacqueline Burns, who made her league debut for Reading and kept them within touching distance.
The final 20 minutes actually saw Reading more likely to score, too: Rachel Rowe’s corner hit the post, Natasha Dowie should have done better with her half-volley, and her header was also cleared off the line by Arsenal substitute Frida Manuum. It was the closest Reading came to ending their miserable run of form, making it their fourth successive defeat at home in front of a club-record crowd of 3,660, and they remain second bottom of the table.