by Andrew Crawshaw
As usual at the end of last season there was a significant turnover of players from the squad. Most Women’s contracts seem to run for two years and clubs rarely pay transfer fees so to see a number of players leave is nothing unusual.
There were eight players who left at the end of the season:-
- Goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin who joined Athletico Madrid. The No 1 keeper in the previous season found herself largely replaced by Manuela Zinsberger and declined to extend her contract.
- Striker Dannielle Carter who joined Reading (she had hardly played in two years after suffering ACL injuries in consecutive seasons)
- Centre Back Louise Quinn who joined Fiorentina
- Midfielder Silvana Flores has joined Chelsea. Silvana was a highly regarded youngster who featured for our development squad and made the bench on a number of occasions in first team matches but never made it onto the pitch. She may well prove to be a player who we come to regret losing in years to come.
- Full Back Katarine Veje is another player who we rarely saw due to a series of foot/ankle injuries. She has joined the Swedesh club Damallsvenskan.
- Tabea Kemme has retired from football after failing to recover from a serious knee injury she suffered before joining the club. In her two seasons with us I think she was on the pitch for only 3 minutes.
- Striker/Midfielder Ruby Grant has left to undertake a degree course at the University of North Carolina in America and will continue her playing career there. She is another in a long list of promising youngsters to take that route. It looks as though she has signed a short term deal with West Ham (presumably whilst she waits to start her degree course).
- Full Back Emma Mitchell has also joined Reading. Again she rarely featured due to injury and spent the second half of the season on load at Spurs.
There are four new arrivals so far
- Squad No 18 – Australian Goalkeeper Lydia Williams 32 year old Lydia joined us from Melbourne City and has 88 caps for Australia and will bring her vast experience to the club. She will certainly provide competition to Manuela Zinsberger for the No 1 slot.
- Squad No 12 Full Back Steph Catley is the second Australian to have joined us. She is 26 and the vice captain of the Australian national team and has 82 international caps.
- Squad No 16 – Defender/midfielder Noelle Maritz has joined us from Vfl Wolfsburg. The 24 year old is capable of playing as a centre back or in midfield and has 74 international caps for Switzerland as well as a raft of national titles with Wolfsburg as well as the Champions League.
- Squad No 21 – Midfielder Malin Gut is just 20 and has joined us from Grasshopper Zurich. She has 8 caps for the Swiss national side.
We start with a 20 player squad, a small headline number compared to last season but this time with no one suffering long term injury. It seems to be a more complete squad than last year when so many players were unavailable and we often couldn’t name 5 fit senior outfield players on the substitutes bench.
In addition to the four new arrivals listed above we have
- Squad No 1 – Goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger A 24 year old Austrian who joined us at the start of last season from Bayern Munich. She has over 60 caps for Austria, she is a good shot stopper and good playing out from the back but my recollection is that her longer kicking isn’t as accurate as it might be.
- Squad No 24 – Goalkeeper Fran Stenson joined us at the start of last season and spent the entire year on loan at Blackburn Rovers where she won their Young Player of the Year award. Still only 19 it will be interesting to see if she stays with the first team squad or goes out on loan again. If we win the Champions League the chances of her staying will be increased, otherwise if we only have domestic football next season I would think that if both international players stay then she will go out on loan again.
- Squad No 5 – Centre Back Jennifer Beattie will be a regular starter for sure. The 29 year old Scottish International is in her second spell at Arsenal re-joining from Man City at the start of last season. Vastly experienced, we always look more solid at the back with her playing.
- Squad No 6 – Centre Back Leah Williamson. The 23 year old joined Arsenal in 2006 as a nine year old. She has matured into one of the best ball playing Centre Backs in the country to the extent that she is often ‘woman marked’ by opposition forwards in an attempt to disrupt Arsenal’s passing out from the back. A fabulous player quite adept at bring the ball forward in the manner of a good midfielder.
- Squad No 20 – Full Back Leonie Maier. A 28 year old full back Leonie joined us from Bayern Munich at the start of last season. She has over 70 caps for Germany.
- Squad No 22 – A versatile defender Viki Schnaderback joined us from Bayern Munich at the start of the 2018/19 season and has just signed a contract extension. The Austrian National Captain with over 70 caps she can play anywhere in our defensive line.
- Squad No 7 – Midfielder Danielle Van de Donk is the first of our three Dutch players. One of the smallest in stature she plays like a lion. On her day she is devastating in midfield and finds pockets of space in and around our opponents box where her finish usually ends up in the back of the net.
- Squad No 8 – Midfielder Jordan Nobbs should now be fully recovered from her injury that hampered her for much of last season. Now 28 she joined us from Sunderland in 2008 and her driving force is often behind our best moves.
- Squad No 10 – Midfielder Kim Little. The 30 year old Scott is our club captain and has a wealth of experience. Another player in her second spell at the club. She has won almost everything at club level and is one of those players who always seems to be where she is needed most. Our normal penalty taker, it is a rare event when a spot kick doesn’t end up in the net.
- Squad No 13 – Midfielder Lia Walti The 27 year old Swiss player joined us at the start of the 2018 season from Turbine Potsdam. She normally starts in the defensive midfielder role but has licence to roam wherever is required. With her anchoring the midfield we are a much more solid team defensively.
- Squad No 14 – Midfielder Jill Roord. The 23 year old Dutch midfielder is the largest of our established midfielders and her extra physicality offers us another dimension when necessary. She is another player who joined us from Bayern Munich at the start of last season. She now has over 40 caps for the Netherlands.
- Squad No 11 – Forward Vivianne Miedema. It is at times hard to remember that for all her goal scoring records Viv is still only 24 years old. She joined us from Bayern Munich in 2017 and literally scores for fun. Who can forget her six goals and four assists total in our 11 – 1 demolition of Bristol City last season. Like all great strikers she comes alive when she senses the opportunity of a goal and if opposition teams can’t keep her quiet for the full match she will hurt any team in the world. It is a real privilege to watch her play and she is always worth the price of the ticket. She genuinely seems to be just as happy creating chances for other players as she is scoring herself. Danielle Van de Donk and Kim Little are often on the end of her assists. Without doubt our most important and valuable player and one of the real stars of the game.
- Squad No 15 – Winger Katie McCabe. The 25 year old Republic of Ireland International spent much of last season filling in at wing back but her real talents lie in the attacking third of the pitch.
- Squad No 17 – Winger Lisa Evans. The 28 year old joined Arsenal from Bayern Munich in 2017 and is an exciting attacking talent. Like Katie McCabe she had to fill in at Wing Back last season so the arrival of two specialist full backs should see her concentrate her efforts more in the attacking third this season.
- Squad No 19 – Attacker Caitlin Foord. 26 year old Caitlin joined us from Sydney in January. When she signed she had 77 Australia caps and provides additional firepower to our forward line. She only had two games prior to lockdown and it is really too soon to tell how she will fit into our team. I believe her to be more direct than our other forwards and more physical.
- Squad No 23 – Attacker Beth Mead. 25 year old Beth joined us from Sunderland in 2017. She came as a prolific centre forward but has matured into a wide forward An England youth international since she was 15 she provides both goals and assists predominantly from wide areas. She has also become something of an expert in ‘Crots’ where the goalkeeper is expecting a cross only to find out too late that the ball is in the back of the net.
All in all an abundance of riches and one which will give manager Joe Montemurro some serious headaches when it comes to team selection. Only Fran Stenson can only be regarded as a backup player. All of the rest are full internationals and picking one to start means another can only sit on the bench, or miss out altogether. It is a feature of Joe’s teams that most players are equally competent in more than one role and change as the play on the pitch requires them to.
When fully fit I would expect the following to start (but hey I’m only a supporter not a manager so what do I know!)
GK – Zinsburger/Williams
CBs – Beattie, Williamson
MF – Walti, Little, Nobbs, Van de Donk
Attack – Miedema, Mead
Full/Wing Backs two from Catley, Maritz, McCabe and Evans depending of the requirements for defence or attack to be prevalent.
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