Arsenal Women Season Review – part 2 the defenders





We  have four first-team goalkeepers :-

Manuella Zinsberger – our undisputed No1 and with 1 on her shirt.  Manuella is 28 and is also the Austrian No1.  It was strongly rumoured earlier in the season that she would be leaving this summer but has agreed to a contract extension for a further year which is great news.

Sabrina D’Angelo – the Canadian No1, she joined us in January and has shown that she is a good keeper.  Her attributes are different to Manuella’s, she seems more confident with the ball at her feet for example.  I can’t help feeling that we recruited her as a future No1 thinking that Manuella might well leave this summer.   She is a firm favourite with the crowd who adopted Saliba’s chant for her before she started her first game.

Kaylan Marckese – Will almost certainly be part of the USA squad for the World Cup, we signed her last summer from HB Koge after we played them in the Champions League where she played in both of our group games and was impressive.  Since joining she hasn’t really shown to be capable of challenging Manuals for the No1 spot and with limited game time likely to be available this coming season as well I wouldn’t be unduly surprised were she to leave.

Fran Stenson – the youngster of the group who joined us from Manchester City in 2019.  She spent the season on loan at Birmingham City who play in the Ladies Championship where they were runners-up to Bristol City.  She was recalled in January after only one appearance when she kept a clean sheet in the fourth round of he FA Cup.  Her last contract was signed in 2020 so she either needs to see a clear progression to the first team or she will be looking to move elsewhere.  Will being a third choice for this coming year be enough?  I have my doubts.

Full Backs

Steph Catley a left footed full back who also covered at Centre Back in the early part of the season when Rafaelle was unavailable.  An excellent defender who also provides a goal threat going forwards.  She is a great player and I am really happy that she has extended her contract with the club.

Noelle Maritz – a Swiss international, she signed in 2020 from Wolfsburg and has been one of the mainstays of our defence ever since.  Not the most exciting player on the pitch she nevertheless does her duties diligently and rarely lets attackers get beyond her.

Laura Wienroither – an Austrian International she joined in January 2022 and has alternated with Noelle at right back until she suffered her ACL injury in March.  She will miss the vast majority (if not the whole) of next season and that injury will require action from us in the summer to give us cover.

Katie McCabe – Katie has been one of the mainstays of the team for several years now and usually operates on the left-hand side either as full-back, wing-back or as a left-side forward.  Her versatility means that she covers a variety of positions and she has also been handed the captain’s arm band since the injuries to Kim Little and Leah Williamson.  Chelsea made a surprise bid for her in the January transfer window – I just hope her head wasn’t turned by their attention.  She will be 30 this coming September and I would like to think that we will be looking for a replacement in the next 12 months or so.  She is one of our feistiest players and collects a high percentage of our total yellow cards.

Centre Backs

Rafaelle Souza – the Brazilian captain – a fabulous player who it has been a joy to watch in the 18 months she has been with the club.  Alas she is moving on this summer and will be nearly impossible to replace on a like-for-like basis.  Left-footed and a superb dribbler she also has the athleticism to recover ground at the same pace or better than virtually all attackers.  I can only say “Thank you” to her and wish her all the best for the future.

Lotte Wubben-Moy – now 24 and right-footed.  I remember her first appearance as a 16-year-old in a cup tie, she looked good then and is better now.  She would be a starter for just about any other WSL team and it has been our good fortune that she has only been our third choice.  She is going to the World Cup with England.  Not perfect but a damn fine player and a gooner since childhood.

Leah Williamson – Our starter on the right-hand side of the two centre-backs and the England Captain.  A tragedy for both club and county when she got her ACL injury at the end of April.  Given normal timescales for this injury she should be available  January/February.

Jen Beattie – the veteran of the group.  Jen is best suited to playing in the centre of a back three which is where we saw her at the end of the season following Leah’s injury.  When asked to play in a back four her lack of pace causes problems, whilst she can play facing the opposition forwards she is far more comfortable and is also the best of our centre-backs when defending aerially.  I was surprised when we retained her at the start of the season, but at the end I was extremely glad that we had.

Teyah Goldie – the youngster of the group Teyah didn’t make an appearance for us this last season having picked up an ACL whilst on loan at Watford the previous season.  I really have no idea how likely she is to hold down a first-team place next season.  As she has been with the club from the age of six I would like to think that she will make it but her future is another matter for Jonas and his staff to sort out this summer.

Anna Patten – Has spent the season on loan at Aston Villa.  Another product of our academy, she spent four years at an American University while also playing for Florida State Seminoles and South Carolina Gamecocks.  It wouldn’t be a big surprise if she were to leave the club his summer, probably depends on how she impresses Jonas in pre-season.

In summary

  1. We have one more goalkeeper than we really need, I will be surprised if both Kaylan and Fran are still with the club next season
  2. We need a replacement for the injured Laura Wienroither, preferably a player who can play in both full-back positions.
  3. We need a replacement for Rafaelle Souza, this is probably the most difficult job facing the club this summer.  A strong left-footed centre-back will be difficult, coupled with Rafaelle’s athleticism and ball-carrying ability and it becomes almost impossible to find all those attributes in one player.
  4. Next season will probably be Jen Beattie’s last playing at this level.  She is well suited to a back three but less so in a back 4.  If neither Teyah Goldie or Anna Patten are thought to be good enough then we should be looking for another central defender.

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