Arsenal women: the season review. We made the Champions League



Andrew Crawshaw

The best place to start the season review is where we finished – in third place, which none of us would have been happy with a the star of the season.  However given the season that we had, I was actually quite pleased with our final position as I feared that a Champions League place would be beyond us, given how we were coping at Christmas.

We were certainly beset with serious injuries throughout the season.  At the start of the season, we were without our two main Centre Backs due to injury.  And as these players were the captains of England and Brazil, no one should be under no illusions as to their importance to our team. 

We elected to play with Lotte Wubben-Moy being partnered by Steph Catley (a natural full-back).  Whilst not an obvious choice it was one which seemed to work well enough.  It seemed that no sooner did Leah Williamson and Rafaelle return than our injury situation got rapidly worse.  November saw Beth Mead rupture her ACL (a nine-month injury).  Four weeks later she was joined by Vivianne Miedema with the same injury.  These two players between them had provided 60% of both our goals and assists in the previous two seasons so a massive blow to our whole team. 

Even worse was to come as Leah Williamson had the same injury at the end of April and Laura Wienroither joined the club at the start of May.  Four in a year, he injury gods certainly not looking kindly on us.  Our captain, Kim Little was also ruled out for the remainder of the season in April due to a hamstring injury.

Here is the final league table


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Chelsea 22 19 1 2 66 15 51 58
2 Man United 22 18 2 2 56 12 44 56
3 Arsenal 22 15 2 5 49 16 33 47
4 Man City 22 15 2 5 50 25 25 47
5 Aston Villa 22 11 4 7 47 37 10 37
6 Everton 22 9 3 10 29 36 -7 30
7 Liverpool 22 6 5 11 24 39 -15 23
8 West Ham 22 6 3 13 23 44 -21 21
9 Spurs 22 5 3 14 31 47 -16 18
10 Leicester 22 5 1 16 15 48 -33 16
11 Brighton 22 4 4 14 26 63 -37 16
12 Reading 22 3 2 17 23 57 -34 11


Chelsea emerged as champions again, only losing two games.  They were pushed hard by us at the start of the season and were led for a long time by Manchester United the title only being decided on the last day of the season when Chelsea dispatched bottom side Reading.  Chelsea have the biggest and strongest team in the country and, in the end it proved to be pivotal.

It is clear that we cannot hope to be champions when we fail to win seven games in the season so that is clearly an area where we need to do better next year.

Away from the league we had a successful Champions League campaign reaching the semi-final when we were beaten by Wolfsburg in the 118th minute of the second leg at a sold-out Emirates stadium.  Over 60,000 seas sold represented a real milestone for the club and for the wider women’s game.  It would have been a terrible disappointment not to have qualified for the tournament next year.

We did win a trophy – the Continental Tyres (League) Cup when we beat Chelsea (hooray) at Crystal Palace.  Chelsea took the lead but we rallied and finished deservedly 3 – 1. Without a doubt one of the highlights of the season.

What can we look forward to next season?

Returning from Injury

  • Kim Little – should be ready for pre-season
  • Beth Mead – August/September
  • Vivianne Miedema – September/ October
  • Leah Williamson – January/February
  • Laura Wienroither – March/April

Retention of key players

The club have just announced that our player of the year Frida Maanum has just signed a new contract. This is excellent news.

She needs to be followed by:-

  • Kim Little
  • Lia Wälti
  • Katie McCabe

New Arrivals

Centre Back 1 Rafaelle Souza leaves the club this summer, probably to play in the USA.  We are reportedly in the market for a left-footed centre-back (they are about as common hen’s teeth or unicorns).

Centre Back 2 – With Leah Williamson also out for the first half of the season we probably also need another centre-back.  Barring further injuries we will have Lotte Wubben-Moy and Jen Beattie as established CBs as well as 18-year-old Teyah Goldie (out all this last season following her ACL on loan last season) and Anna Patten who spent this season on loan with Aston Villa.

Full Back – With Laura not available for the vast majority of next season we could do with an experienced backup, preferably with the ability to cover on both sides of the pitch.

Midfield – I would like to see us bring in another midfielder, preferably defensive.

Forward Whilst Sina Blackstenius has moments where she looks capable of leading the line and scoring many goals, for me she has been underwhelming this season.  It was acknowledged by our coach, Jonas Eidevall, that we had failed to bring in a new striker in both transfer windows this season so I can only believe that he still wants further reinforcement in this position.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Rachel Daly from Aston Villa (winner of the league’s golden boot for the season) wasn’t on our wish list or possibly Bunny Shaw from Manchester City (who don’t have Champions League next season).

Promotions from our Academy

We have seen cameo performances from several of our teenagers on occasions this year.  One, in particular, caught my eye.  In the cup game against Leeds, Michelle Agyemang, a 16 year old right winger, came on and made an instant impression.  Composed on the ball, and much more mature than her age would suggest she was shoulder barged by one of the Leeds players who just bounced off her emerging somewhat shell-shocked at the experience. 

Michelle also took an excellent goal.  I would hope that we will see more of her this next season.  I would also hope that further first-team involvement will help us to keep her and our other teenagers at the club.  There is an oddity as clubs cannot give professional contracts to Girls till they turn 18 whereas boys get theirs at 17 which doesn’t help recruitment of juniors.

More matches at the Emirates Stadium

We played three league games at the Emirates this year, there will be five next year.  We also played all of our knockout Champions League games there culminating in the complete sell-out for the semi-final against Wolfsburg.  We had crowds of 40,000 or more in the other games. 

Pre-pandemic typical crowds at Meadow Park for home games would be 1,500 and you could easily get a seat by turning up and paying at the turnstile.  All games are now sold out.  The club have said that it is their aim to eventually move all matches to the main stadium (possibly problematic given the frequent late changes to the men’s schedule to accommodate TV schedules)

In Conclusion

At the start of the season I would have said our season goals were to

  • Win at least one trophy
  • Compete for the other domestic competitions
  • Reach the semi-finals of the Champions League
  • Qualify for the 2023/24 Champions League

So we can probably say that we met most of those targets and I’m quite sure that without our spate of ACL and other injuries, we would have been more competitive in the WSL and the FA Cup. 

There are certainly things to work on for next season.  Clearly to win the WSL we cannot lose more than two matches and need to win at least four more than we did this year, we also need greater strength in depth than we had this year and probably a bigger squad.

4 Replies to “Arsenal women: the season review. We made the Champions League”

  1. Considering the injuries up front, we seem to have done reasonably well.

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