Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies – 12 July Meadow Park BorehamWood
Match Report and Thoughts
By Andrew Crawshaw.
This was the first game following the interruption to the Women’s Super League caused by the World Cup in Canada where, as I’m sure you are all aware, England came third and were the highest of all of the European teams. Five members of the England squad were from Arsenal with Alex Scott, Lianne Sanderson, Casey Stoney and Jordan Nobbs all getting playing time.
Arsenal have been busy in the transfer market with Marta Corredera signing from Barcelona and Dutch duo Van Veenedaal, a 25 year old Goalkeeper joining from FC Twente and Dominique Janssen, a 23 year old defender joining from German club SGS Essen. Lianne Sanderson and Caroline Weir have left the club and reserve goalkeeper Siobahan Chamberlain has joined Notts County on a loan for the rest of the season.
Our opponents were Liverpool Ladies the reigning WSL Champions so a tight game was my pre-match expectation. Weather was forecast to be overcast with the chance of rain or showers but at least not too hot.
I arrived at the ground in what I thought was plenty of time only to have to queue for 20 minutes in order to get in (I missed the first five minutes of the game). The Official attendance was 2,061 and the ground infrastructure proved totally inadequate to get that many people in in a reasonable time. For a club of Arsenal’s reputation this is not acceptable and coupled with the pitch problems last winter for U21 games changes/improvements need to be made urgently.
1 Emma Byrne GK, 2 Alex Scott (C), 20 Dominique Janssen, 5 Casey Stoney, 19 Jemma Rose, 8 Vicky Losada, 25 Jade Bailey, 14 Leah Williamson, 9 Danielle Carter, 17 Marta Corredera, 16 Carla Humphrey
Veenendaal, 7 Natalia Pablos Sanchon, 12 Chioma Ubogagu, Clarke, Wubben-Moy, 10 Kelly Smith, Dean
Stout (GK), Williams, Bonner, Harris, Lobghurst, Easton, Omarsdottir, Oshaola, Dowie, Hodson, Murray
Starts then for two of the Arsenal Newbies, Dominique Janssen at Left Back and Marta Corredera Left Wing. Leah Williamson made her first start for three months
Darbyshire, Dale, White, Pacheo, Smorsgard
I have absolutely no idea what happened in the first five minutes as I was still queueing to get in and I was also looking forward to a Jumbo Sausage and cup of tea from the Lunch Box inside the entrance, but the queues were at least 20 minutes so I made my way to the stand and squeezed into an empty seat (there weren’t many).
The first thing I saw was a dangerous Liverpool attack where the ball ran right across the Arsenal six yard box with no-one from either team able to get a foot on it, a real let off for Arsenal.
Liverpool were the dominant team in the opening period, they played with far more intensity and were bullying Arsenal. Challenges came flying in some fairly, others less so in my opinion (but not in the opinion of the referee). This period of play led to two Liverpool goals – an absolute belter from Farah Williams in the 9th minute where she was allowed far too much time and gave Byrne no chance from 25 yards. The second was a much scruffier affair coming from an excellent corner which Byrne failed to collect and Easton poked home from close range on 17 minutes.
After a half hour or so Arsenal seemed to settle and started to play but the final ball was lacking meaning that the Liverpool goal was under no real threat. Liverpool challenges were still far stronger than Arsenal, one in particular a head high kick which made contact with both ball and player being acknowledged by the referee who played advantage for Arsenal.
Needless to say when the ball went out of play he didn’t book the Liverpool player. To my mind it was verging on a straight red. It was no surprise when Danielle Carter received the first yellow card of the match when she made her first foul that was far less serious than many Liverpool challenges that had gone before it. What Arsenal attacks led to shots on goal found the Liverpool Keeper in excellent form, Carla Humphrey having an excellent effort beaten away on the stroke of half time.
Two nil to Liverpool at half time. At the restart Arsenal made two changer, Ubagagu and Natalia came on for Carla Humphrey and Jade Bailey. For Liverpool White replaced Omarsdittir.
Arsenal started much better, a long ball towards the right hand corner flag was chased down by Danielle Carter who put in a delightful first time cross to the back post, Ubogagu met the cross with a downwards header which was somehow gathered by Stout preventing what looked like a certain Arsenal goal. Shortly afterwards Natalia had a fierce effort which went narrowly wide of the right hand post. At this stage it was almost all Arsenal with slick passing and movement, this eventually bore fruit when Rose played a lofted ball into the Liverpool box, Natalia stayed onside, beat het marker and delicately lobbed the on-rushing Stout for an Arsenal Goal – Game on!
Oshaola made a dreadful challenge on Gemma Rose earning a yellow card, without a replay difficult to see if it should have been red, again the Referee gave Liverpool the benefit of the doubt, as he did when an Arsenal player seemed to be brought down in the penalty area .
Arsenal however could not make their pressure count, Alex Scott snatched at a shot late on which flew high and wide. Liverpool slowed the game down as much as possible (well versed in the ‘black arts’) and finally pounced on about the only defensive error from Arsenal when Oshoala picked up a loose ball and lobbed Byrne in the 87th minute.
Arsenal’s first defeat of the season and in truth their slow start cost them the game. From 30 minutes on they were the better team but failed to create and/or take sufficient chances to come back from two goals down and a dreadfully slow start.
Afterwards the manager Pedro Losa told Arsenal.com
“We need to understand that we have to start the game better, with better intensity, the second half showed what we are capable of doing.
In the first half when you concede two goals like that, you can’t expect to be winning games or winning points. The second half had great effort, the players gave everything on the pitch and probably after our goal we deserved a little more. We deserved to score at least one more goal.” (Read more here)
Defender Casey Stoney echoed those thoughts, particularly referencing the impact on the younger players
“It is definitely a learning curve for them, Carla and Leah were in there and they’re very young players. We had two new players coming in and playing as well, so it was difficult circumstances for us.
Even saying that, though, we can’t afford to start games like that and you’ve got to make sure you can’t get physically outmuscled. We’ve got to take our chances and we’ll kick ourselves if we look at the amount of chances we spurned.” (Read more here)
- I found it sad that I was finding the referee as controversial as those in the Premier League.
- Arsenal missed Jordan Nobbs in central midfield, the sooner she is back to full fitness the better.
- The two newcomers, Janssen and Corredera both looked excellent players and the team will benefit from their better integration as they have a chance to practice and play together in the next few weeks.
- The game was lost in the opening minutes, the Ladies (like the Men) need to start at a much higher tempo and not allow themselves to be bullied.
- Arsenal as a club need to review their continued use of the Meadow Park ground, which is in need of major improvements to allow for crowds of 2,000 plus to both get in and out speedily, as well as increasing the toilet and catering facilities.
Anniversary of the day – Arsenal’s first day out for the fans.
- 14 July 1894: First “Woolwich Arsenal Football Company Day Excursion” to Hastings patronised by 400 people, organised by the club’s great benefactor George Lawrence