Arsenal Women – Part one of our season end appraisal: the League

A review of the women’s league season, by Andrew Crawshaw

A season with some success but more a season of ‘might have beens’.

The final week of the season saw two games with wins over Sunderland 2 – 0 and Bristol by 6 – 1.  Unfortunately Manchester City also won their final two games and we finished agonisingly one point behind them in third place with only the first two teams qualifying for the Women’s Champions League next season.

The final table (all teams playing 18 matches) was :-

Pos Team W D L +/- Pts
1 Chelsea 13 5 0 31 44
2 Manchester City 12 2 4 34 38
3 Arsenal 11 4 3 20 37
4 Reading 9 5 4 22 32
5 Birmingham City 9 3 6 12 30
6 Liverpool 9 1 8 3 28
7 Sunderland 5 1 12 -25 16
8 Bristol 5 1 12 -34 16
9 Everton 4 2 12 -11 14
10 Yeovil Town 0 2 16 -52 2

The table splits into three groups, excluding Yeovil on their own at the bottom and outclassed this year.

The top three teams, pretty much as expected Chelsea, Man City and ourselves.  Chelsea and Man City both got to the semi-final of the Champions League and so are right up with the best in Europe.

The next block of Reading, Birmingham and Liverpool proved capable of giving the top three a hard match and taking points although not necessarily winning.

The next three, Sunderland, Bristol and Everton stood little chance against the top three but were capable of getting results against the group above them.

Chelsea were undoubtedly team of the season, they had the strongest squad with the greatest depth.  Their 3 – 1 win over us in the Cup Final was fully justified and showed clearly how much work we have to do to be able to match them for next season.

Man City matched them for the first two thirds of the season but fell away at the end as injuries hit their squad and their lack of strength in depth showed.

We finished the season with a threadbare squad and could only muster three of the possible seven substitutes against Bristol for the last game of the season.  It will be important to get our injured players back to full fitness and bring in suitable reinforcements before next season starts.

Our league matches in a paragraph

Arsenal v Birmingham City 3 – 2 Sept 24 – Our first match of the season and one where we looked to be heading for a defeat until the last 10 minutes.  We really weren’t very good at all.  Ellen White put the visitors ahead in the 12th minute, Jodie Taylor equalised in the 35th minute and we faffed around all game never really looking like scoring again.  Ellen White got Birmingham’s second on the hour mark and they looked like hanging on for the win.  Louise Quinn was rightly given a red card as Birmingham, led by White broke upfield on a quick break.  Eventually however our pressure began to tell and Lisa Evans scored the equaliser from close range.  At the death Birmingham were penalised for handball in the area and Taylor scored her second from the spot to give us a win that had looked unlikely for most of the match.

Manchester City v Arsenal 5 – 2 Sept 30 – Manchester City being granted a lifeline by a piece of rotten refereeing when Nikita Parris caught Lisa Evans on the forehead with her studs and should have been sent off.  Evans had to leave the field for stitches.  It was a terrible challenge thoroughly deserving a red card.  Ross opened the scoring for City just before the break but Emma Mitchell equalised, Sari van Veenendaal could only palm an effort into the path of Steph Houghton who made no mistake.  2-1 to City at half time.  We were level again soon into the second half with Heather O’Reilly scoring but as the second half progressed we were simply out muscled and out fought conceding three more goals in the last 20 minutes.  Mind you if the officials had done their job properly we should have had a 11 v 10 advantage for most of the game and the result could have been totally different.

Arsenal v Bristol City 1 – 1 Oct 8 – the Bristol keeper Sophie Baggaley was in superb form in this match to deny numerous shots from Arsenal which would otherwise have been goals.  At our end Sari van Veenendaal was also in good form keeping out a couple of good Bristol efforts.  Hemp opened the scoring for Bristol in the 30th minute somewhat against the run of play and Danielle Van de Donk equalised in the 50th minute.  A disappointing result that left us sixth place in the table behind Man City and Chelsea who were both unbeaten, Sunderland (third) and both Reading and Birmingham on goal difference).  It proved to be the last straw for the Arsenal board who sacked manager Pedro Losa.

Everton v Arsenal 0 – 2 Oct 29 – This was the first match under interim coach Ismael Garcia after Pedro Losa had been dismissed following our poor start to the season and frankly dismal performances against City and Bristol.  Everton started the better but we managed to weather the storm and started to pressurise the Everton defence.  Vivianne Miedema made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute with a shot in off the crossbar.  Sari had the referee to thank when he (correctly) disallowed an equaliser following a foul on our keeper.  The Everton keeper Durack then kept them in the game with a number of good saves, principally from Miedema before Beth Mead spotted her off her line and lobbed her from well outside the penalty area.

Arsenal v Sunderland 3 – 0 Nov 12 – Laws was in fine form for Sunderland making an impressive series of saves throughout the first half.  Louise Quinn managed to beat her though in the 59th minute to break the deadlock.  Further goals from Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Nobbs completed the scoring.

Chelsea v Arsenal 3 – 2 Jan 7 – This was our new Manager Joe Montemurro’s first League game following his appointment in November.  It was a really strong performance and one which deserved a draw.  Chelsea got the only goal of the first half, we equalised early in the second half through Miedema, Chelsea regained the lead through Ji before Dominique Janssen equalised for the second time.  Both teams continued to press for a winner, we nearly scored but Mead’s shot was kept out by a combination of the Chelsea keeper and the post but a similar combination at our end saw the ball strike our post and go in via Sari Van Veenendaal’s back.

Reading v Arsenal 0 – 0 Jan 28 – This came a few days after we had beaten Reading in the Continental Tyres Cup and it was a match where both teams seemed well aware of the other’s abilities and were easily capable of neutralising the other.  A draw the right result on the day.

Liverpool v Arsenal 0 – 3 Feb 7 – Beth Mead had an early shot just over the bar on 11 minutes, then Caroline Weir (a former Gunner) rattled our crossbar.  Vivianne Miedema then scored just before the half hour mark after her weak penalty had been parried by Rebecca Flaherty.  The moment of the match and one of the best goals of the season came on the stroke of half time when Dominique Janssen scored an absolute beauty.  Lisa Evans got the third midway through the second half.

Arsenal v Yeovil 4 – 0 Feb 11 – A brace from each of strikers Dani Carter and Beth Mead saw us beat Yeovil comfortably in the end.  Yeovil defended deep and in numbers and thwarted us until the 37th minute when Mead burst into the box and provided a great cut-back for Dani Carter to score the first of the match.  Mead got her first almost at the start of the second half to put the result beyond doubt.  From there on the only question was how many more goals would we score?  Yeovil continued their resolute defence until the 70th minute when Dani got her second, followed by Beth in Min 84.

Arsenal v Everton 1 – 0 Feb 23 – Kim Little made her first start following long term injury and captained the side.  She nearly had the perfect start coming close to opening the scoring on two occasions in the opening 30 minutes.  Beth Mead scored the only goal on 39 minutes.  Sari van Veenendaal made a great stop just before half time to keep Reading goalless.  Despite several good efforts in the second half we were unable to add to our score.

Arsenal v Chelsea 1 – 1 April 1 – This was an even and close game with both teams having chances to score more then the one they managed.  Fran Kirby scored for Chelsea in the 31st minute with a fast break and Beth Mead equalised on the stroke of half time.

Arsenal v Reading 3 – 1 Apr 18 – On top from the start with Jordan Nobbs and Dani Carter coming close in the opening minutes.  Kim Little put us in front with a great shot to the top corner in the 11th minute, Dominique Janssen headed home following a goalmouth scramble in the 26th minute.  Fara Williams then did what she always seems to do and scored for Reading in the 50th minute but our third in the 63rd by Danielle Van de Donk killed any hopes of a Reading comeback.

Yeovil v Arsenal 0 – 0 Apr 21- This must rank as the most disappointing result of the season – and also as Yeovil’s best.  They defended with 11 players behind the ball throughout and helped their goalkeeper Megan Walsh keep a clean sheet by blocking just about everything that we threw at them. When we did beat them the woodwork completed the job.  One of those games where we looked likely to score for 90 minutes but didn’t.  We extended out unbeaten run to 13 games but it was hard to view this result as anything other than two points dropped.

Arsenal v Liverpool 3 – 0 Apr 24 – We were on top from the start but unable to beat Siobhan Chamberlain in the Liverpool goal in the first half.  It took us until the 60th minute to really get into our stride then Goals from Katy McCabe (65) and a brace from Jordan Nobbs (74 and 85) ensured we got all three points.  The first of these was Jordan’s 50th for the club.

Birmingham v Arsenal 3 – 0 Apr 29 – One of our worst results of the season, Ellen White getting a hattrick to condemn us to a comprehensive loss.  It could have been worse but for a penalty save by Sari Van Veenentaal.  It was our fourth game in 11 days and we were completely out of sorts all game, quite probably down to exhaustion.

Arsenal v Man City 2 – 1 May 12 – The last home match of the season and a farewell to Club Captain Alex Scott.  We started the better but rather surprisingly went behind in the 11th minute to a Nadim goal when Sari Van Veenendaal slipped and couldn’t recover her position quickly enough.  This seemed to completely upset Sari’s composure as she was very shaky all of the rest of the game.  We upped our game in the second half and two goals in 11 minutes from Danielle Van de Donk and Beth Mead  proved to be sufficient.  Alex came on right at the end of normal time taking up the Centre Forward position and was in a great place to add a third goal had Danni Carter squared the ball rather than shooting herself.  The result set up a close end to the season which had appeared over after the previous match.

Sunderland v Arsenal 0 – 2 May 16 – A good start from Sunderland required Anna Moorhouse to be sharp in our goal, we then had a quick break ending in Kim Little (captain) scoring in Min 10.  Beth Mead added the second in Min 31 and we then were able to play out the match with no major dramas.

Bristol City v Arsenal 1 – 6 May 20 – We finished with a flourish and were on top from the start.  Our most emphatic victory of the season with goals from Danielle Van de Donk (21 and 71), Captain Kim Little from the penalty spot in Min 28 after Danni Carter was brought down, Leah Williamson (30), Beth Mead (38) and Katy McCabe (45).  Arthur got Bristol’s consolation goal in min 67.

Part two of our season end review will appear tomorrow.

Meanwhile, elsewhere…



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