HB Köge v Arsenal WFC – 2021 Champions League match report

HB Köge v Arsenal WFC – 2021 Champions League match report

By Andrew Crawshaw

The one question in my mind leading up to this game was “would Köge start the match in the same manner as they did against Barcelona”?.  The answer turned out to be an emphatic no.  

Against Barcelona they were aggressive and really took the game to their visitors and with better finishing would have been a goal up in the opening minute or so and two up in the first 10.  Against us they were passive and dropped into a deep defensive block with a back five protected with a deep midfield four and a sole striker in an attempt to provide an upfield outlet.

We played our usual 4 – 3 – 3 which morphs on pitch as circumstances require.

Zinsberger was given a rest in goal, Australian international Lydia Williams getting a rare start.

In defence we went with Steph Catley, Leah Williamson, Simone Boye-Sorensen (getting a start in her home country) and Noelle Maritz

Midfield – Jordan Nobbs, Lia Walti, Frida Maanum

Attack – Caitlin Foord, Viv Miedema, Nikita Parris

Subs: Zinsberber & Cull (GKs), Wubben-Moy, Teyah Goldie, Anna Patten, Manu Iwabuchi, Kim Little, Beth Mead, Katie McCabe

The game quickly developed into a game of attack v defence, Arsenal with wave after wave against a very resolute Köge defence. When we beat the outfield defenders Kaylan Marckese was in excellent form and on hand to make the save.

Arsenal should have taken the lead in the 16th minute after Nikita Parris was taken out by a rash tackle in the box.  With our usual penalty taker Kim Little having a rest on the bench, Nikita took the penalty herself with a powerful shot to the keeper’s right.  Kaylan guessed correctly and saved the shot, a chance spurned.  That save didn’t make a big difference though as 10 minutes later we had a free kick just outside the area on the right-hand side.  Up stepped left back Steph Catley with a perfect left-footed free kick into the top right-hand corner of the goal via the underside of the bar (I love a shot of the underside of the bar and this one was immaculate – a goal of the month contender).

The game then continued in the same vein for the remainder of the half.  Köge rarely in our half and with no shots at all.  Lydia Williams had virtually nothing to do.

Köge held out for over an hour before Barcelona scored and it was about the same last night before we scored our second, Nikita Parris pouncing on a loose ball in the area swivelling and firing into the bottom of the net.  Nothing the keeper could do about it and two nil on the night.  That was Nikita’s last kick on the night as she was replaced by Beth Mead, Kim Little also came on for Frida Maanum.  Five minutes later it was three nil after Caitlin Foord headed home after a Jordan Nobbs shot from the edge of the area came back off the face of the bar (nowhere near as satisfying as going in off the bar but a great headed finish).  Game over I thought.

Not the case, Köge then had their best spell of the game and started attacking in numbers and with pace.  They forced Catley into an error and her backpass to Leah Williamson was short, Pokorny nicked the ball and beat Lydia Williams to give Köge their first goal in this stage of the competition.  Sloppy on our part but, as I said in the preview, Köge aren’t mugs and this was too good an opportunity for them to pass up.  3-1 to Arsenal.

We made two further subs, AnnaPatten coming on for Noëlle Maritz and Katie McCabe for Steph Catley.  We also regained our composure and reasserted our attack resulting in late goals for Anna Patten and Jordan Nobbs.

All in all a good evening’s work. A 5 – 1 win at this stage isn’t something we should turn our noses up at.  All our goals by different players, the only surprise being that Viv wasn’t one of them.  She should be warmed up for Spurs on Saturday though.

The win confirms our second place in our group, Barcelona beat Hoffenheim 4 – 0 in the other game maintaining their unbeaten status.  Next up in the Champions League we host Köge on Wednesday evening at Borehamwood. I’ll definitely be in the ground for that one.

In the WSL we are away to Spurs on Saturday lunchtime.  The game is at the Hive and it is also live on BBC2.  Kickoff 12:30.

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