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Arsenal Women September 2021 review – with added video footage

by Andrew Crawshaw

Wednesday evening’s 5-1 victory over Tottenham brought a close to a really good September for Arsenal Women.  Please note that the embedded links are to the FA Player highlights, you will need to log in or create an account to view the footage.

WSL Arsenal v Chelsea 5 September

We started our domestic WSL season with a game against our main nemesis from recent seasons Chelsea.  This match was held at the Emirates rather than our usual home of Borehamwood as it was during the Men’s International Break. 

We were pretty much up to match speed after our early start with Champions League qualification matches whilst this was Chelsea’s first competitive game of the season and this was fairly evident as we were far more on the front foot and won most of the one on one battles in the opening stages of the match. 

A delightful through ball from Katie McCabe found Vivianne Miedema in full flight, once inside the penalty area she steadied herself and fired home into the bottom left corner of the goal giving two defenders and the Chelsea keeper no chance. 

We had further chances to extend our lead but as the first half drew to a close it was Chelsea who gained an equaliser scored by Erin Cuthbert.  We regrouped at halftime and emerged with fresh energy and impetus.  Miedema soon turned provider and gave Beth Mead a wonderful through ball which she finished with her weaker foot curling the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal.  She then went on to score her second and our third goal, rounding the keeper and passing the ball into an empty net.  There was a hint of offside in the build-up but with no VAR available the goal stood.  Chelsea went on to pull one goal back but after that our defence was solid and we emerged with a 3 – 2 win.  Three points to Arsenal and more importantly three points against one of our two main title rivals.

Chelsea highlights

Champions League 9 September Slavia Prague v Arsenal

The following Thursday we were in Prague for the second leg of our Champions League second round tie against Slavia Prague.  We took a 3 – 0 lead with us from the August match at Borehamwood and so were clear favourites to progress into the group stage as one of the last 16. 

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Vivianne Miedema started the match on 97 club goals in a total of 109 appearances (including those as a substitute).  Could she reach the 100 goal milestone?  The first half was fairly cagey with us unable to break down Slavia’s resolute defence and halftime saw us comfortably in control but goalless. 

On the hour mark Miedema burst into life.  Beth Mead cut in from the left wing and swept a wonderful cross behind Slavia’s defence which Viv swept home with a first time finish.  She clearly sensed that this was to be her day and it wasn’t long before she collected a pass from Anna Patten which ended up in the bottom left hand corner of the goal. 

Two minutes later she had her hat trick with one of the most impudent pieces of skill you will ever see.  A dummy shot left two Slavia defenders and their goalkeeper on the floor before she calmly scored into an empty net.  The game was rounded off by Kim Little with her usual aplomb from the penalty spot after Nikita Parris was fouled in the box.  No doubt about the star of the game Vivianne Miedema with 100 club goals in her 97th start – more than one a game on average.  This was her 7th club hat trick (or eight if you count double for the six goals she scored against Bristol City – a hat trick in each half plus four assists).  We wrapped up qualification for the group stages following 4 wins from 4 starts and an aggregate score of 14 – 1.  Tougher tests to follow as the tournament progresses.

WSL 12 September Reading v Arsenal

We were back in WSL action with an away trip to Reading, a team who we normally beat but rarely by a multitude of goals.  Full of confidence following the win in Prague we started at a high tempo which Reading simply couldn’t live with.  Somewhat surprisingly it was a corner that brought our first goal (we haven’t been known for scoring from corners in past seasons).  Katie McCabe delivered and Jen Beattie headed home.  Beth Mead got our second with a first time effort into the top corner and it was three before half time as Fullback Leah Williamson strode forward with the ball, played a great pass to Beth Mead who squared the ball for Miedema who did what she does and put the ball into the bottom corner.  Three nil at halftime and the game totally finished.  We got a fourth in the second half with a rarity – a Miedema header, no great power but fabulous placement across goal to the right hand side.

Reading v Arsenal highlights

The Ladies then had their break for internationals.  Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Leah Williamson joined up with the England squad under new head coach Sarina Wiegman.  Leah was made captain for the two Euro Qualifiers against North Macedonia and Luxembourg.  Not surprisingly England won the two games by 8 and 10 goals to nil but a good start for Leah as Captain and playing in the base of midfield rather than her club position of Centre Back.

North Macedonia highlights

Luxembourg Highlights

25 September Arsenal v Manchester City

City are the third club with Chelsea and ourselves with a realistic probability of competing for the WSL title, in our three matches against them last year in all competitions we lost 2 – 1 each time so a positive result would be a real statement of intent. 

They are, however beset with injuries this season and came into the match on the back of defeats to Spurs in the WSL and being knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid so it could well have been a good time to play them. 

They started well without ever really looking threatening but in the 10th minute an undercut back pass was seized on by Beth Mead, the goalkeeper came for it but outside her area couldn’t grab the ball, she saw Miedema in the area, squared the ball and it was a simple finish. 

In the 22nd minute it was two nil, Miedema passed to Kim Little who shimmied past three defenders and put an unstoppable ball into the right hand side of the net.  In the second half a long ball from defence was brought under control by Katie McCabe, and she fired a bullet into the net for 3 – 0.  Kim Little who was absolutely superb in midfield was brought down in the box, dusted herself down and scored the resulting spot kick. for 4 – 0.  Deep into time added on we won a corner and Leah Williamson put a perfectly placed header into the corner of the goal for a final score of 5 – 0.  Three games gone in the WSL and we are deservedly top with 9 points and a 12-2 goal tally. 

The game was notable not only for the scoreline but also that new signing Tobin Heath came on at the end of the match as a substitute.  Her signing was something of a coup for the club as her standing in the women’s game is on a par with Ronaldo and Messi in the men’s game.  She is a global superstar and will undoubtedly raise the profile of our team significantly on the world stage.

Manchester City Highlights

WSL league table after 3 matches

P W D L + _ GD Pts
1 Arsenal 3 3 0 0 12 2 10 9
2 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3 0 0 4 1 3 9
3 Aston Villa 3 2 1 0 4 2 2 7
4 Chelsea 3 2 0 1 12 4 8 6
5 Brighton and Hove Albion 3 2 0 1 7 1 6 6
6 Manchester United 3 2 0 1 6 7 -1 6
7 West Ham United 3 1 1 1 5 3 2 4
8 Manchester City 3 1 0 2 5 7 -2 3
9 Everton 3 1 0 2 3 9 -6 3
10 Leicester City 3 0 0 3 2 9 -7 0
11 Reading 3 0 0 3 0 7 -7 0
12 Birmingham City 3 0 0 3 1 9 -8 0

For Arsenal to have clear daylight at this stage of the season over our two main title rivals is massive.  Under normal circumstances the three of us would expect to win against all other teams in the league meaning that the title usually comes down to the results between the three of us.  Wins against both of them could well be pivotal at the end of the season.

29 September FA Cup (2020-21) Arsenal v Tottenham

We concluded the month with a delayed 2020-21 FA Cup quarter final against Spurs, who we had beaten 4 – 0 in pre-season. 

I was expecting a fairly easy game but was surprised when they scored in the second minute.  Lotte Wubben-Moy wasn’t strong enough and allowed a Spurs attacker past her.  We failed to clear in a meaningful way the resulting corner and Rachel Williams perfect strike was clear of a diving Lydia Williams. 

Normal service was soon resumed as we shook off the early signs of lethargy and laid siege to the Spurs goal.  Tobin Heath was our chief attacking architect on a night when Miedema, McCabe and Beth Mead were all on the subs bench.  she should have had a penalty early on when she appeared to be fouled in the box but kept her feet, unfortunately her pass eluded our attackers.  She was soon to get an assist though, teeing up Iwabuchi on the quarter hour mark. 

On the half hour mark  Spurs failed to clear a Heath free kick, it was smashed goal wards by Wubben-Moy before being deflected into the net by a Spurs defender.  Four minutes later it was 3 – 1 Caitlin Foord finishing off a left flank team goal. 

Just at the end of the half it was 4 – 1 as Parris headed home from close range (she wins a surprising number of headers for a player who is relatively short).  In the second half we were content to see out the game, coach Thomas Eidevall ensuring that players were withdrawn becoming too tired with two further games in the next week including a Champions League game away in Barcelona next Tuesday. 

We did have further joy though in one of our more determined attacks with Foord being the recipient of one of Beth Mead’s trademark crossed to tuck home her second of the game and our fifth.  Next up in this competition a semi-final against Brighton on Sunday 31st October and a Wembley final to look forward to on 5 December.

Next matches

  • WSL – Aston Villa v Arsenal Saturday 2 October 17:15 shown live on BBC2
  • Champions League – Barcelona (holders) v Arsenal Tuesday 5 October 20:00 live on Arsenal.com

1 comment to Arsenal Women September 2021 review – with added video footage

  • Sally Pally

    Thanks, Andrew, a very nice article!

    We watched the highlights last night. I think it dawned on me for the first time that playing like that, these ladies could maybe beat a top men’s club. The deft touches, the brilliant double-header, the excellent positioning, wrong-footing and incredible curler for our first goal. All of them were brilliant. Top, top play and it is not only a credit to them but also to the manager. It’s as exciting as the men’s game. No doubt!

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