Arsenal women: two cup finals in one season

Part two of our review of the women’s league season, by Andrew Crawshaw

Part one can be found here.

So as we saw in the earlier part of this summary we had three managers during the season – here is a summary of their league results:-

Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
Pedro Losa 3 1 1 1 6 8
Ismael Garcia 2 2 0 0 5 0
Joe Montemurro 13 8 3 2 25 8

The team under Pedro Losa let in as many goals in his three games as they did in Joe Montemurro’s 13.  In general the team looked more settled under the new manager and there were fewer ‘oh my God what are they doing’ moments.  They still happened but less frequently and more often it looked like they had a reasonable idea where everyone was on the pitch.  Still more to do but it is work in progress.

Compared with Chelsea and Manchester City we didn’t score anywhere near enough goals and this is an area that definitely requires further work before next season starts. 

Vivianne Miedema who is lethal when playing for the Netherlands has been struggling all season with what is reportedly an ankle injury and hasn’t been able to play consistently for more than a game at a time.  She is still young and should improve but her first touch is often not as assured as I would like to see and for a centre forward she drifts out of the game far too often.  There is far more to come from her and, on paper a strike force of Dani Carter and Beth Mead flanking her should provide lots more goals than they have managed this season.

Our main successes this season have come in the two Cup competitions.

Like the Men’s game there are two cup competitions, the FA Cup (sponsored by SSE Energy) and the League Cup (sponsored by Continental Tyres) and imaginatively known as the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup.  The Continental Cup has been a near permanent fixture in our Trophy cabinet with us having won it 4 years out of six before the start of the season and were beaten finalists once).

The Continental Cup was played in two parts, the 10 teams from the WSL first division were joined by the 10 in the second division and split into four groups of five either 2 WSL1 teams plus 3 from WSL2 or vice versa.  Each team played the other four once.  The resulting group winners went into a semi-final with the winners advancing to the final.

Arsenal’s group had Reading from WSL1 and London Bees, Millwall and Watford from WSL2.

As before a summary of each match in a paragraph :-

Arsenal v London Bees 7 – 0 Oct 12 – This was a match that clearly demonstrated the difference in standard between WSL 1 and WSL2.  Lisa Evans opened the scoring after a good assist from Jordan Nobbs, Emma Mitchell then added two more, the first a nice volley from the edge of the penalty area, the second a header from a Jordan Nobbs corner.  The game effectively being over by half time.  Our fourth came from Jodie Taylor then Beth Mead opened her Arsenal account from the penalty spot having been fouled in the area.  Towards the end Louise Quinn was fouled in the area and Beth Mead got her second of the match.  With 7 minutes to go Louise Quinn got the seventh with a close range header.

Millwall Lionesses v Arsenal 2 – 5 Nov 1 – Millwall in recent years have been nowhere the force they once were in the Women’s game, but their results against us have been getting somewhat closer.  Beth Mead opened the scoring in the 10th minute but it was no great surprise when Dean beat Moorhouse in our goal to equalise 9 minutes later.  Jordan Nobbs hooked in a corner (something she practices) just before half time to restore our lead.  We started brightly in the second half and nearly added to our lead but it was the home side who equalised through a spectacular goal by Ella Rutherford.  It looked like it was to be a draw but we produced a late flurry as out better fitness told.  Jordan Nobbs scored from a free kick, Heather O’Reilly, on as a substitute, provided an assist for Dani Carter and in the final minute Beth Mead was fouled in the box and Lauren James (age 17 from our Development Squad) got her first club goal from the spot.

Arsenal v Reading 1 – 2 Nov 5 – Our only loss in the group stage, and we were not at our best.  A game of few clear cut chances, Fara Williams opened the scoring ten minutes into the second half, Beth Mead came on as a substitute and soon equalised in the 61st minute.  There then came one of the ‘oh my God moments’ when Fara Williams lined up to take the kick off at the back of the centre circle, Amy Moorhouse was off her line and Fara just kicked the ball straight into our goal.  Not often you see that happen!

Watford v Arsenal 0 – 6 Nov 16 – our final game was against WSL2 Watford and again the difference in quality was all too apparent, although again a late flourish added a gloss to the scoreline.  We scored our first in 15 minutes through Jodie Taylor with a tap-in following a cross from Emma Mitchell.  Our second had to wait till the second half when Dani Carter had an easy back post finish from a Lisa Evans cross.  On the hour mark it was three thanks to Emma Mitchell.  There was then 15 minutes of calm before we struck three times in five minutes, Dutch Midfielders, Dominique Janssen flicked in from a corner before Danielle Van de Donk lobbed Kitching in the Watford goal a minute later.  Taylor added her second to complete the scoring in the 78th minute.

These results saw us win our group as Reading were unable to capitalise on their win over us and could only draw

Quarter Final – Arsenal v Sunderland 3 – 1 Dec 17 – Joe Montemurro’s first game in charge and he got off to a winning start.  We dominated from the start and nearly opened the scoring through Dani Carter but her shot struck the crossbar having beed teed up by Vivianne Miedema.  A few more minutes was all it took though as Jordan Nobbs sidefooted Lisa Evans’ cross pass Sunderland Keeper Rachel Laws.  Despite maintaining pressure we didn’t look particularly threatening until Vivianne Miedema timed her run perfectly to head in a Carter cross.  An excellent move perfect cross and unstoppable header.  We dropped in intensity after the break and Sunderland got a goal back through Bridget Galloway who took advantage of a misplaced pass from Carter.  Dani tried to make amends with a surging run but her powerful shot came back off the woodwork for a second time in the match.  Lisa Evans nearly got a third after a great run but her shot was just wide.  With time running out Beth Mead did restore our two goal advantage slotting home at the near post against her former club.

Semi-Final Reading v Arsenal 2 – 3 Jan 14 – We made a good quick start with a goal in 5 minutes from Beth Mead from a Dani Carter cross.  Our joy was shortlived as Reading struck back almost immediately through Brooke Chaplen (a curler from the edge of the box).  This was somewhat against the run of play and we had a couple of good chances in the rest of the first half followed by another couple in the early stages of the second half.  Reading made us pay for those missed opportunities when they took the lead in the 70th minute.  Reading had showed in our other games against them that they are a very good side, well organised and with a competent defence and they looked to be playing out the game until with 10 minutes to go Vivianne Miedema showed just what she can do with a very well taken finish from inside the box.  Reinvigorated we sought the winner and surprisingly their keeper Maloney failed to deal adequately with a cross, Jordan Nobbs pounced and turned the ball in for a winner and another Continental Cup Final.

Final – Arsenal v Manchester City 1 – 0 Mar 14 – This match was played at Adams Park, High Wycombe the home of Wycombe Wanderers (and Reading Women) on a Wednesday Evening with a 19:30 kickoff – whoever at the FA who thought this was a good idea needs shooting.  A cup final on a midweek evening, not in school holidays and with bugger all public transport…even the stewards thought it stupid.  Anyway rant over on to the match.  City form had slipped from their imperious start of the season and they really did little to threaten us in the first half, in fact the match was pretty much like a game of chess with few clear cut goalscoring opportunities from either team.  We had the first with a thunderous long range effort from Dominique Janssen which had Ellie Roebuck beaten all ways round in the City goal but only rattled the crossbar.  Steph Houghton for City had the next chance from a free kick but Sari Van Veenendaal was ably to watch it over the bar.  The third chance of the game produced the only goal Vivianne Miedema picked up a deep cross from Dominique Janssen at the back of the area, held off her marker and beat Roebuck with a firm strike to the bottom corner.  One nil to the Arsenal on 33 minutes.  Dominique Janssen nearly added a second early in the second half but her free kick was agonisingly wide.  The defences were then able to deal with attacking play at both ends of the pitch but we regained ‘OUR’ cup by the slenderest of margins.

Part 3 follows shortly