by Andrew Crawshaw
The Match was the last of the 10 WSL matches for the first game week. Here is a quick round up of the other nine :-
Manchester City started on Saturday afternoon with a derby against newly promoted Manchester United. This was played at the main Etihad stadium before a WSL record crowd of more than 31,000. In truth it wasn’t the most exciting of games, United were on top for much of the first half and missed a number of presentable chances. Manchester City’s Caroline Wier scored a fabulous goal at the start of the second half which seemed to take the wind out of United’s sails as they rarely threatened in the second half. City failed to score any more goals and the match ended 1 – 0.
The other Saturday game was between newly promoted Bristol City and Brighton and neither side troubled the scorer – 0 – 0.
Sunday’s early kick-off was between Chelsea and the other newly promoted side Spurs. This was also held at the home team’s main ground Stamford Bridge with a 24,564 crowd, after over 30,000 tickets were given away in advance of the game.
Chelsea scored the only goal of the match in the 4th minute through a great strike by Beth England. Despite Chelsea dominating the match for large parts Spurs actually edged the possession stats 51/41 but Chelsea outshot them by 17/7 which is a better indicator of how the game actually went.
There were two 14:00 kickoffs, both won one nil by the away team. Everton winning at Birmingham through an own goal by Harrop at the start of the second half and Reading at Liverpool with a trademark free kick from Farah Williams at the end of the first half.
At a sunny Borehamwood Arsenal entertained West Ham. Last season we won both at home and away but West Ham were resilient and we probably had more problems against them than anyone except Chelsea and Man City in the two games we lost.
We were missing a number of key players – last Season’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema is nursing a slight hamstring problem and wasn’t risked, Tabea Kemme is still nursing a knee injury as is Lia Walti, goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin was only fit enough for the bench as was Jordan Nobbs and Daniele Carter is out for the season having ruptured the same ACL in the Emirates Cup match as kept her out for last season.
This meant starts for summer signings Manuela Zinsberger in goal, Leonie Maier at right back, Jennifer Beattie and Viktoria Schnaderback at CB and Jill Roord in midfield.
Manuela Zinsberger GK
Leoni Maier, Jennifer Beattie, Viktoria Schnaderback, Katie McCabe
Leah Williamson, Kim Little, Jill Roord
Lisa Evans, Beth Mead, Danielle Van de Donk
Subs Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (GK), Emma Mitchell, Louise Quinn, Jordan Nobbs, Ruby Grant and Melissa Fiis
Brosnan (GK), Simon, Flaherty, Thomas, Baunach, Longhurst, Leon, Cho, Dali, Tessel, Vetterlein
Moorhouse (GK), Galabadaarachchi, Hendrix, Kvamme, Lehmann and Kizskis
The match officials were Referee Stacey Pearson, Assistants Jack Bloxham and Matthew Fletcher and fourth official Lee Brennan.
In the first minute the referee made the first of a long list of inexplicable decisions booking Schnaderback for an innocuous foul. Despite this Arsenal started on the front foot, McCabe firing into the side netting in the opening exchanges. Kim Little couldn’t get the ball out from her feet in the 7th minute and another attack a minute later nearly resulted in the opening goal.
Roord was next to have a go but her shot was straight at Brosnan who gathered comfortably. West Ham had their first attack in the 13th minute but the shot was laughably wide (it really was that bad). In the 14th minute Beth Mead got the ball on the edge of the penalty area and sent a beautiful curler into the top left hand corner of the goal. TO THE ARSENAL 1 – 0
The referee was consistent in giving Maier a yellow card in the 26th minute (consistently wrong that is) she had ignored a number of agricultural challenged from West Ham and carded two Arsenal players for their first fouls.
Arsenal were at this stage looking solid and pretty much in control of things. In the 41st minute came the move of the match. Evans put in another good cross from the right side, Mead controlled it well with her back to to goal, saw roared rushing into the box and put it on a plate for her on the penalty spot for Roord to side foot home. TO THE ARSENAL 2 – 0
In the 44th minute Leon went too far for even this referee and rightly earned a booking.
At the start of the second half it really should have been 3 – 0, Danielle Van de Donk ghosted in at the far post to meet another cross from the right but somehow got her contact with the ball all wrong sending the chance way over the bar from only six yards.
This miss seemed to encourage West Ham who really grew into the game. Adriana Leon had a header comeback off the bar before they pulled one back. Martha Thomas med a good cross and powered a header past Zinsberger.
West Ham really had the best of the second half and will consider themselves unlucky not to have earned a point. In the end though it was our first half dominance that earned us the three points and top spot in the table.
Zinsberger had a few really strange moments during the game , coming out of her area and failing to clear the ball before being robbed by two West Ham players who fortunately could only shoot over the bar. She completely lost sight of a free kick which came back off the post and then in the last minutes a ball spun off an Arsenal defender and she picked it up. The referee deemed it to be a back pass and awarded an indirect free kick.
As far as I could see there was no intent for it to be a back pass. The IFAB handbook states that an indirect free kick shall be given if the keeper touches the ball with their hand or arm after it has been deliberately kicked to the keeper by a team mate. I do not see how a ball spinning off a team mate’s leg and going to the keeper can possible be a deliberate kick by the team mate. However once a referee has gone full “Mike Dean”…. In any case Zinsberger will now know to kick the ball out of the ground when in trouble. Must do better in the future to retain her starting spot once Peyraud-Magnin is fully fit.
Jordan Nobbs came on in the 67th minute and was energetic without really affecting the game, she will need time to get back to full match fitness and confidence in her body.
Here is a highlight reel from the BBC
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.
- Approaching derby day we recall when Arsenal helped Tottenham get into the league