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Arsenal Ladies – Spring Series 2017 review

by Andrew Crawshaw

The 2017 WSL Spring Series was a one-off tournament designed to bridge the time gap between the end of the 2016 WSL Summer League and the start of the 2017-18 WSL Winter League.

Why the FA decided to change from operating the WSL as a summer league and move it back to a winter league is a debatable point but that was their decision and one which we all have to put up with.

The spring series was a league competition with each team in the WSL playing the others once off between April and 03 June.  The competition started badly with the announcement of Notts County Ladies winding up on the Friday before they were due to be our first opponents on the Sunday.  What was to been a nine game series was thereby reduced to eight games.  Needless to say it was an Arsenal home game that was lost (we played 5 away, including both Chelsea and Man City, and 3 home games).

The nine remaining teams in the first division of the WSL were – Arsenal and, in the order we played them, Sunderland, Liverpool, Yeovil, Chelsea, Birmingham, Manchester City, Reading and Bristol.  Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal were most people’s bets to win the league with Liverpool and Birmingham as outsiders.

I have added links to short video highlights of some of the games, I couldn’t find more.

Sunderland v Arsenal 30 April (0 – 0)

With regulars, Leah Williamson, Kim Little and Emma Mitchell all missing due to injury, Anna Patten started in central defence alongside fellow development squad graduate Lotte Wubben-Moy and off season signing Heather O’Reilly also made her league debut.  This was a game which Arsenal dominated but were unable to get past a well parked bus.  A disappointing start meaning that we dropped two points against a team that we would normally be expected to beat.

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), Alex Scott © (60), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Anna Patten, Fara Williams, Danielle van De Donk (83), Jordan Nobbs, Dominique Janssen, Heather O’Reilly, Jodie Taylor (60)Danielle Carter.

Subs – Chloe Kelly (60), Katie McCabe (60) and Louise Quinn (83)

Arsenal v Liverpool 04 May (4 – 4)

Arsenal Ladies 4-4 Liverpool Ladies – WSL Spring Series | Official HighlightsYouTube · 02:32 · 24,000+ views · HD · 05/05/2017 · FATV

Manager, Pedro Losa, again took the opportunity to give experience to players emerging from our development squad with Anna Patten and Lotte Wubben-Moy being joined from the start by Chloe Kelly.

It was Liverpool who started better and they got their reward in 13 minutes when a corner from Greenwood evaded everyone and found its way into the net.  Arsenal upped their game and intense pressure forced an error which enabled Chloe Kelly to score from close range, one all after 37 minutes.  Poor defending from Arsenal just before half time saw Liverpool  first restore their lead then extend it.  Two goals in two minutes giving the visitors a 3 – 1 lead at half time.

Ten minutes into the second half and Carter reduced the deficit, this encouraged Pedro Losa to make two attacking substitutions by introducing Jodie Taylor and Heather O’Reilly for Lotte Wubben-Moy and Chloe Kelly.  It was Danni Carter who scored the third Arsenal goal though to level the scores with half an hour to play.  With 9 minutes of normal time remaining Nobbs put Arsenal into the lead with her last contribution to the game and that, you would have thought was that with Fara Williams coming on to boost our defence.  Unfortunately Liverpool didn’t like that script and responded three minutes later with the last goal of the game.

A second draw for Arsenal and already our title hopes were slipping through our fingers.

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), AlexScott (capt), Lotte Wubben-Moy (56), Anna Patten, Chloe Kelly (56), Jordan Nobbs (81), Louise Quinn, Leah Williamson, Dominique Janssen, Danielle Carter, Danielle Van De Donk

Subs – Jodie Taylor (56), Heather O’Reilly (56), Fara Williams (85)

Yeovil Town v Arsenal 07 May (1 – 5)

Yeovil Town Ladies 1-5 Arsenal Ladies

Our third game was in the West Country against Yeovil Town, surely we would get our first win of the series against one of the real minnows in the league.

This time we came out flying from the kickoff forcing an early handball in the penalty area.  Up stepped Jodie Taylor and the England striker made no mistake from the penalty spot, One nil to Arsenal after just 7 minutes.  A minute later and it was two, Clark inadvertently scoring an own goal.  Taylor got a second midway through the first half and Carter made it four just after the half hour.  The first half goal scoring wasn’t complete though as Quinn got a through ball and was able to beat Van Veenendaal.  Nevertheless a four one score at half time was a fair reflection of the dominance that Arsenal had enjoyed.

The four goal cushion was restored early in the second half with Heather O’Reilly’s first goal for the club with a well taken penalty after Alex Scott had been felled in the penalty area by Helen Bleazard.

A first win on our third outing to get us moving in the table.

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), Alex Scott (capt), Lotte Wubben-Moy (63), Anna Patten, Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Van de Donk, Jodie Taylor, Leah Williamson, Dominique Janssen (63), Danielle Carter (71), Heather O’Reilly

Subs – Matie McCabe (63), Carla Humplrey (63), Chloe Kelly (71)

Chelsea v Arsenal 17 May (2 – 2)

After good chances at both ends, Arsenal were the first to score, Carter was felled by Chelsea keeper Telford and Jodie Taylor again took the spot kick.  The kick itself was parried by Telford but Taylor made no mistake with the rebound.  One nil to Arsenal at half time after a half of end to end action.

The second half was more of the same, this time Chelsea were the scorers with Bright heading past Van Veenendaal midway through the half. and as the 90 minutes ended that seemed to be that.  Chelsea though had other ideas and an injury time strike from Spence seemed to have won the points for Chelsea until Nobbs put the ball over Telford with the last meaningful touch of the game to earn Arsenal their third draw of the series.

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), Alex Scott (C), Anna Patten, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Dominique Janssen, Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Van De Donk (61),  Danielle Carter, Jodie Taylor (59), Heather O’Reilly

Subs – Beth Mead (59), Fara Williams (61)

Arsenal v Birmingham 20 May (4 – 2)

A terrible start from Arsenal as Birmingham opened the scoring in the opening seconds, Rachel Williams beating Anna Moorhouse (replacing Sari Van Veenendaal in the Arsenal goal) with a powerful header in the second minute.  We responded brightly, Fara Williams hitting the crossbar with a curling free kick, then Carter came close with a header that required a good stop from Baggley in the Birmingham goal.  We equalised on the stroke of half time with O’Reilly scoring following a Van De Donk assist.

Ten minutes into the second half and we took the lead, Van De Donk scoring with a powerful shot.  Our lead was short lived though as Williams equalised with another header.  With 25 minutes to go Manager Losa shook things up, Alex Scott was replaced by Quinn and Fara Williams by Jodie Taylor as he changed to a back three.  A masterful change as the Irish defender scored her first goal for Arsenal with a header and then her second with a deft flick inside the penalty area giving us our second win in the series.

Arsenal – Anna Moorhouse (GK), Alex Scott (C) (65), Anna Patten, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Leah Williamson, Fara Williams (65), Jordan Nobbs, Heather O’Reilly, Danielle Van De Donk, Danielle Carter, Beth Mead (85)

Subs – Chloe Kelly (85), Louise Quinn (65), Jodie Taylor (65)

Manchester City v Arsenal 28 May (0 – 1)

Manchester City Ladies 0-1 Arsenal Ladies – WSL Spring Series | Official HighlightsYouTube · 03:51 · 390 views · HD · 29/05/2017 · FATV

An important game against one of the powerhouses in the English Game as City have sought to buy their way to success.

All the early pressure from City, Arsenal perhaps lucky that Jill Scott hit the post on 8 minutes, The next 8 minutes saw Arsenal much more in  the game and threatening the City goal.  This was to be the pattern of the game, first one team then the other enjoying spells where they were in the ascendancy.  The half ended scoreless.

The second half was pretty much a repeat of the first, both teams going all out for the opening goal.  The deadlock was finally broken in the 75th minute when Jordan Nobbs took a great free kick which curled into the top right hand corner of the goal.  A fantastic strike which gave the keeper no chance.  Arsenal then stood firm to ensure a historic win.

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), Alex Scott (C), Anna Patten, Lottie Wubben-Moy, Dominique Janssen, Jordan Nobbs, Carls Williamson, Danni Carter (90), Danielle Van De Donk (86), Heather O’Reilly, Beth Mead (59)

Subs – Fara Williams (86), Chloe Kelly (90), Carla Humphrey, Anna Moorehouse (GK), Jodie Taylor (59), Katie McCabe, Louise Quinn

Arsenal v Reading 31 May (1 – 0)

Anna Patten moved from Central defence to Right Back for this game and certainly impressed Pedro Losa who said

She’s outstanding. I can’t believe the performances that those two kids – Anna Patten and Lotte Wubben-Moy – are putting in on the pitch right now. But especially Anna, in a new position as a right back. She’s been playing through the system and for England on some occasions as a right back, but I just think she was definitely one of the best players on the pitch.”

Read more on the Arsenal Ladies site

Most of the early pressure by Arsenal bur Reading defending robustly, at times too much so and giving away fouls, First chances for Arsenal in the 11th and 12th minutes but coming to nothing, then again in the 16th minute when Reading are saved by the post.  More pressure from Arsenal but still no goals at the half hour mark.  Minute 37 and the referee decides that Kirsty McGee of Reading has gone too far and she deservedly gets a yellow card.  Finally in Minute 40 the deadlock is broken ad Danni Carter strikes from close range following an assist by Heather O’Reilly.

The second half was more of the same, Arsenal pressure being met with stout defending by Reading, the match being littered by fouls from both sides but no more goals.

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), Anna Patten, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Dominique Janssen, Louise Quinn, Jordan Nobbs (C), Leah Williamson (82), Danielle Van De Donk, Beth Mead (61), Danielle Carter, Heather O’Reilly (74)

Subs – Alex Scott, Chloe Kelly (74), Katie McCabe (82), Farah Williams (61), Carla Humphrey, Anna Moorhouse (GK), Jodie Taylor

Bristol City v Arsenal 03 June (0 – 5)

A bright start from both teams, with two chances to Arsenal and one to Bristol in the first 8 minutes, Lottie Wubben-Moy then going into the book for a foul on Leach.  More pressure from Arsenal but Bristol hanging on until the 27th minute when a header by Quinn goes in to the top left corner, the goal had been coming.  Despite more concerted pressure from Arsenal the half finished with just the one goal.

The second half started as the first had finished with Arsenal in the ascendancy and Bristol somehow hanging on but with 7 minutes gone in the half we made it two nil thanks to a Nobbs shot to the top left corner.  Nearly an instant reply from Flo Allen though but a save in the bottom right corner by Van Veenendaal keeps the sheet clean.  Arsenal with the bulk of possession but no more goals until the 76th minute when Chloe Kelly makes it three.  5 minutes later Danielle Van De Donk makes it four and then Beth Mead brings the series to a close with the fifth in Min 86.

A great result and well deserved but ultimately in vain as both Chelsea and Man City had also won their games and so finished one point ahead of us, Chelsea winning with a massive +29 goal difference having only allowed three goals in their 8 games (two against us).

Arsenal – Sari Van Veenendaal (GK), Anna Patten, Louise Quinn, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Dominique Janssen, Fara Williams (73), Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs (C), Chloe Kelly, Jodie Taylor (62), Heather O’Reilly (80)

Subs – Alex Scott, Danni Carter, Carla Humphrey (80), Anna Moorhouse (GK), Jemma Rose, Danielle Van De Donk (73), Beth Mead (62)

The Final League table looked like this

Team P W D L +/- Points
1 Chelsea 8 6 1 1 29 19
2 Manchester City 8 6 1 1 11 19
3 Arsenal 8 5 3 0 13 18
4 Liverpool 8 4 2 2 2 14
5 Sunderland 8 2 3 3 -10 9
6 Reading 8 2 2 4 -5 8
7 Birmingham 8 1 4 3 -4 7
8 Bristol City 8 1 1 6 -16 4
9 Yeovil 8 0 1 7 -20 1

There were some strong positives for Arsenal

  • We were unbeaten, the only team in the league to achieve that.
  • We beat Manchester City at their home ground inflicting on them their first defeat there in two years.
  • The performances of our younger players was really encouraging in particular Anna Patten and Lotte Wubben-Moy
  • We refused to be beaten in games even when it looked likely

There were also some disappointments

  • We drew games we really should have won, the opening game against Sunderland where we simply couldn’t score and the late goal we conceded against Liverpool having fought back from 3 – 1 down at half time.
  • Overall this was a competition that we probably should have won so to only come third is rather hard to take.

We now need to re-assess our squad prior to the main season starting in September and strengthen where we can whilst keeping hold of our best players.  Already Man City are reported to be trying to lure Danni Carter away with a promise of a salary of £80,000 – that’s a year not week!

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3 comments to Arsenal Ladies – Spring Series 2017 review

  • The_Ledge

    Pity our Ladies got off to a slowish start, but remaining unbeaten in the league was a great achievement.

  • Gord

    Thanks Andrew.

  • WalterBroeckx

    With 5 matches being played away from home this surely seems to be a big handicap. Of course nobody could predict the sudden end of the Notts County Ladies but it sure did seem to give us an extra handicap.