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Arsenal Women, a July Update

Postscript to my update piece from earlier today. The venue for the Champions League round 1 mini

by Andrew Crawshaw

With the Women’s Team still firmly in close season you might be forgiven for thinking that not much is happening but there is quite a lot bubbling away under the surface.

Firstly here is a fixture update.

The 2021/22 WSL fixtures will commence on the weekend of 3-5 September so plenty of time before that starts.  Details beyond the start date haven’t yet been released so I have no idea who we will play when.

The Quarter Final of the 2020/21 FA Cup will be against Spurs on 29 September. I believe that this match may well be held at the Emirates. The semi final will be on 31 October and the final at Wembley (I presume) on 5 December.

The preliminary rounds of the 2021/22 FA Cup begin on 15 August, Arsenal and WSL clubs normally enter in the 4th round which is scheduled for 30 January 2022. The Final will be held at Wembley on Sunday 15 May 2022, the day after the Mens final on the 14th. I will look for local teams taking part in the early rounds and try and post match reports.

The Champions League is the first competition that is of real interest to Arsenal fans. UEFA have outdone themselves in coming up with the most convoluted possible path for us to navigate before we cannot to the knockout stages proper.

Along with the other third place clubs from the 6 top ranked countries (based on FIFA coefficients) and the second place teams from the next 10 placed countries we are in the so called Qualifiers path. These 16 teams are in 4 mini tournaments whose winners progress to the next round.

Our group consists of Arsenal, PSV Eindhoven, Lokomotiv Moskia and Kazakhstan team Okzhetpes.  The full set of dates follows below…

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv

Date

Match

Team 1

Team 2

18 August

1

Arsenal

Okzhetpes

 

2

PSV Eindhoven

Lokomotiv Moskia

21 August

3rd place playoff

Loser Match 1

Loser Match 2

 

Group final

Winner Match 1

Winner Match 2



So far this year Okzhetpes have played 5 games winning two and losing the other three. Bilk Kazygurt have beaten them twice by 7 and 10 nil so I wouldn’t expect Arsenal to have any problems beating them.
The venue for the Champions League round 1 mini tournament in Locomotive Moscow’s stadium in Moscow so no chance of me visiting to give a live report.

Tournament winners will then play a two leg round two match on 31 August/1 September and 8/9 September before a Group stage between 5 October and 16 December. Home and away Quarter final 22/23 and 30/31 March. Semi final (again home and away) 23/24 April and 30April/1 May with the final in the Juventus stadium Turin on Sunday 22 May. As I said a very convoluted route to the final knockout stages.

Players

So far we have three confirmed departures :-

Danielle van de Donk – DVD as she has been known has left after 6 years to join French team Lyon. One of the more diminutive players on the pitch she more than made up in terms of tenacity and feistiness. Technically a midfielder she roamed the whole pitch and was a scorer of a surprisingly large number of goals.

Jill Roord – the second of our Netherlands players to leave, Jill has joined Wolfsburg in the German League. I am disappointed that she has left after only a couple of years but she hasn’t always looked confident in her role at the club. At her best a real powerhouse of a player who scored back to back hat tricks in our opening two games of last season. She did however have a tendency to drift in and out of games and I’m not sure that we saw the best of her often enough.

Ruby Mace – Of the three Ruby’s departure is the one that I find the least explicable. A product of our academy, 17 year old Ruby failed to sign the offered contract and has joined Manchester City. Whether it was the terms of the contract I have no idea, I find it difficult to believe that her path to the City first team will be any easier than at Arsenal. I can only put this one down to a management failure at the club.

Malin Gut – Malin is still listed as an Arsenal player, she is currently one on our long term injury list but was reported earlier in the year to be dreadfully homesick and to be leaving the club to go to a team far nearer her home in Switzerland. I suspect that she won’t be returning to the club once she recovers.

New Arrivals

So far we have two newcomers

Mana Iwabuchi – a Japanese attacking midfielder who we have been trying to sign for the past couple of years. Her arrival was blocked by the Japanese FA in the run up to the deferred 2020 Olympics. She then joined Aston Villa on a short contract for the second half of last season where she was clearly a player in a different class to her team mates. She will be an admirable replacement for one of our departing Netherlands pair.

Nikita Parris – an English wide forward who has joined from Lyon following a two year spell with the French team. Two years ago she was neck and neck with our own Vivianne Miedema in the race for the WSL golden boot so I expect our already high goal scoring numbers are likely to take further upward trajectory as the season progresses.

Here is our current Senior squad

Name

Position

Nationality

Going to Olympics

Manuella Zinsberger

GK

Austria

 

Lydia Williams

GK

Australia

Yes

Fran Stenson

GK

England

 

Lotte Wubben-Moy

CB

England

UK reserve

Anna Patten

CB

England

 

Jen Beattie

CB

Scotland

 

Leah Williamson

CB

England

Yes

Steph Catley

FB

Australia

Yes

Noelle Maritz

FB

Switzerland

 

Viktoria Schnaderbeck

FB

Switzerland

 

Jordan Nobbs

MF

England

 

Kim Little

MF

Scotland

Yes

Lia Walti

MF

Switzerland

 

Malin Gut

MF

Switzerland

 

Mana Iwabuchi

MF

Japan

Yes

Beth Nead

Forward

England

 

Vivianne Miedema

Forward

Netherlands

Yes

Katie McCabe

Wing

Ireland

 

Lisa Evans

Wing

Scotland

 

Caitlin Foord

Forward

Australia

Yes

Nikita Parris

Forward

England

Yes


21 players including Malin Gut. Probably four or five short to enable us to fully compete in all competitions.

Turning to the Olympics which is likely to have a significant impact on our build up to our first Champions League games. Of our 21 player rota, 8 are involved in the group stages and all will be hoping to go further in the tournament.

The UK with Leah, Kim and Nikita have the following group matches:-

21 July – Chile
24 July – Japan
27 July – Canada

Australia with Lydia, Steph and Caitlin have :-

21 July – New Zealand
24 July – Sweden
27 July – USA

The Netherlands with Viv have

21 July – Zambia
24 July – Brazil
27 July – China

Japan with Mana arena the same group as the UK

21 July – Canada
24 July – UK
27 July – Chile

The quarter finals are on Friday 30 July, the semi finals on on 2 August, and the 3/4 final on Thursday 5 August with the final on 6 August. The closing ceremony is on Sunday 8th August so I think we should assume that any of our players who come through the group stages will not be available before the 8th.

It is possible that players may be able to rejoin the squad for a week before the Champions League matches but there is then no obvious slot for them to have a proper break and pre season. We should be able to beat Okzhetpes with a reduced strength squad but PSV Eindhoven and Lokomotiv Moskia will be a sterner test and the second round match at the end of August will be tougher still.

New Head Coach Jonas Eidevall starts work next week on 12 July and this is one of the early problems for him to wrestle with.

One other new starter in the backroom staff that was announced this week is the full time appointment of Gary Lewin as Head of Medicine and Sports Science for the Women’s team. Gary has been around AFC for a very long time, has been working part time with the Ladies recently and is well liked and trusted. I hope him being there full time will have an effect on our awful injury rate and will result in more players being available week in week out.

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