by Andrew Crawshaw
This game was against opponents Arsenal know well, we beat them in the Continental Cup final last November, and three times at Borehamwood this season, once in the league and in both the FA Cup and the Continental Cup. The question was could we make it 4 out of 4 this season in the away fixture in the WSL.
With our game being the last of the WSL games to kick off we already knew that Man City were effectively out of reach in the League but that a win would keep us in touch of Chelsea in second place.
Manager Pedro Losa made a number of changes to our usual starting lineup. Emma Byrne made a rare start in goal, Casey Stoney captained the side standing in for Alex Scott at right back and we started with a front three of Katy McCabe, Danielle Carter and Asisat Oshoala. Josephine Henning also started at CB on her return from the Olympics where she won gold with the Germany team.
Arsenal – Byrne, Stoney (c), Rose, Henning, Mitchell, Nobbs, Losada, McCabe, Carter, Oshoala and Van de Donk
Subs – van Veenendaal (GK), Scott, Janssen, Corredera, Natalia and Smith
County – Walsh (GK), Krantz, Luik, Buet, Whelan, Clarke, Williams, White, Potter, Whelan, Bassett (c)
subs – Hassall, Moore, James and Oliver.
Truth be told the first half was a pretty dull affair both teams trying but failing to create anything in the way of excitement or goal threat. Oshoala did well to bring a high ball from Dan Carter under control but shot wide of the far post, Stoney made a good cross for Katie McCabe, but Buet for Notts was there to clear the danger. Oshaola forced Walsh into a good save as the first half ran down after beating Basset with a good run and that was about it. Half time no score.
The second half, in contrast, was a far more exciting affair. Two minutes after the restart Oshoala latched onto a poor backpass to score the opening goal rounding Walsh before finishing well. Emma Byrne came out of our penalty area to try and beat Ellen White to the ball but only succeeded in fouling the County captain and was rightly given a red card in the 60th minute ensuring a nervy last 30 minutes for the Gunners.
Katy McCabe was sacrificed in order for Sari van Veenendaal to enter the game. County were unable to make their numerical advantage count as 10 minutes later Walsh was unable to deal with an excellent corner from Danielle van de Donk falling over after attempting to catch the ball and dropping it over the goal line (the BBC also credit this goal to Oshoala but Arsenal.com have it as an OG by Walsh). Two nil to the Arsenal which was the final score.
After the game Casey Stoney said :’
“It was a great result and pleasing when you go down to ten. If I’m honest it was probably one of our poorest performances of the season.
“It was more their errors than our creativity but having said that, you’ll take three points here and it means we’ve beaten them four times this season.
“We’ve played in games this season where we have dominated and ended up losing so it was a reverse of that today and we were clinical when we needed to be.
“We’ll keep fighting for the Champions League and keep trying to win games. We’re relying on other teams to do us a favour but whilst were still up there, we’ll keep going.”
Notts County Manager Rick Passmoor said :-
“It’s disappointing because you can legislate for individual errors and that’s what it was.
“We were on top for long periods and they were hitting us on the counter attack, which they looked very dangerous on. However, I’m really pleased with everything apart from them two sloppy mistakes.
The three points keep us in touch with Chelsea who are currently in second place in the table. City who are unbeaten look to be uncatchable in first place.
The key to finishing second and thereby qualifying for European competition next season is to overhaul the gap to Chelsea. They still have to play City but in truth their other games against Notts County and Reading (twice) look very winnable and with a game in hand we need them to drop points in at least one of those.
We still have to play City and Liverpool who have both beaten us in the League this year and twice against Doncaster which we should win. We really need to win all four of these games and score as many goals as possible to overcome the superior goal difference that Chelsea have to give ourselves a chance.
Our next game is in the Continental Cup semi-final next Sunday where we play Man City in their Academy Stadium. Kick-off is at 14:00 but as yet I have no information as to any television coverage. We need an exceptional result there in order to keep up our excellent record in this competition. It is in its fifth year and we have won it three times and were the losing finalist in 2014.
From this day 91 years ago…
- 29 August 1925: Herbert Chapman’s first match as Arsenal manager, against Tottenham in the first league match under the new offside rule. Arsenal lost 0-1. The outgoing manager Leslie Knighton alleged some 20 years later that he was promised the gate money from the game as a benefit payment, but no evidence of such an agreement was ever produced and almost all of Knighton’s anti-Norris statements were subsequently proven to be untrue.
- 29 August 1925: Charlie Buchan’s debut as a pro after signing for Arsenal for a second time. Part of his transfer arrangement was that Arsenal would pay a fee of £100 for every goal he scored in the season. He scored 20. Buchan’s first signing for Arsenal is here.