Behold: Arsenal meet the Wimbledon of the Women’s game in 1-1 draw

By Bulldog Drummond

I guess most of us thought we would thankfully never have to watch anti-football again once Wimbledon were relegated from the Premiership in 2000.  But here it was, in all its horrors.   The return of anti-football, and in of all places the Women’s Super League.

Those with memories of football in the last century, and eyes to see what was going on, first noted the defensive pattern Tottenham adopted as Arsenal attacked.  Two lines of four players across the pitch, one a couple of yards behind the other.  And where had we seen that before?  Why, wasn’t it when Wimbledon played in the top division in the men’s game, at the end of the last century.

There were other issues as well in this afternoon’s game that reminded us of the old days – the total dominance of Arsenal supporters in the ground for an away match – very reminiscent of the old Plough Lane days when the away support was given most of the stadium.

And of course the total unwillingness of the media to mention the anti-football style.  Of course Tottenham’s women’s team are not at the level of the old Wimbledon outfit, but there were moments when we wondered exactly what old games on TV they had been watching.  The elbow in the face, the insistence on defence… it was indeed just like old times.

As we complained at the time, there was not too much that could be done if a team wanted to defend en masse in two banks of four, and wait for the chance to sneak a goal while doing what the commentators use to call “putting themselves about a bit” (prior to that known as a spot of argy-bargy)  But that’s what we got.

Along for the complaining well, we got some of that.   Lots of complaining in fact.  Getting in the ref’s face, that sort of thing.  OK it is now done in a slightly more sophisticated way that ensured that not too much attention was drawn to it, but it was there all the same.

Plus the pushing in the back, the constant complaining… the aim was to make Arsenal players back off for fear of getting a career ending injury; it was no wonder that Jonas Eidevall looked bemused.  He was only 17 when Wimbledon departed the top division and soon after moved out of London to the wild and woolly pastures of Milton Keynes.

As for the commentators, they began to struggle, and as the match progressed turned to excusing what was going on with words like “rumbustious” to describe the style of play.  Gradually the referee lost the plot, until even the commentator expressed his consternation as Beth Mead was allowed to take a free kick with a rolling ball.

But the eumphamisms kept on coming with the commentators constantly calling Tottenham by their nickname while referring all the time to Arsenal by their formal name, and talking about the “resolute Spurs’ defence.”

However we did finally get the goal our possession and determination to stay with the football deserved, and so walked away with a point, but the loser was undoubtedly women’s football.   I’ve not seen a women’s team resort to the old industrial models of playing before.  Let’s hope this is not the future of the game, but just in case it is, let us hope that Arsenal’s manager takes heed of one of the least glorious moments in the history of English football, and starts to work out an approach of how to cope with it.

For now Tottenham have tried this approach, others may well follow.  And if it gets the club a point without having multiple yellow cards, why not?  Here’s the table, post battle.

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal Women 7 6 1 0 24 3 21 19
2 Chelsea Women 6 5 0 1 18 5 13 15
3 Tottenham Hotspur Women 7 4 2 1 9 5 4 14
4 Brighton & Hove Albion Women 6 4 0 2 11 5 6 12
5 Manchester Utd Women 6 3 2 1 11 10 1 11
6 West Ham UtdWomen 6 2 2 2 8 8 0 8
7 Manchester City Women 6 2 1 3 11 12 -1 7
8 Aston Villa Women 6 2 1 3 4 10 -6 7
9 Reading Women 6 2 0 4 6 10 -4 6
10 Everton Women 6 2 0 4 6 13 -7 6
11 Birmingham City Women 6 0 1 5 2 15 -13 1
12 Leicester City Women 6 0 0 6 3 17 -14 0


4 Replies to “Behold: Arsenal meet the Wimbledon of the Women’s game in 1-1 draw”

  1. The Tottenham ladies seem to copy the Tottenham men lots of bus parking intimidating the opposition, long balls and diving to break up the play and also feigning injury.spurs have been playing this way for years even their darlings of 61 knew how to put it about,in fact you have to go back to the early 1950’s under Arthur Rowe the time they copied Arsenal’s style and played decent football.I watched the second half of the ladies game today and the spurs women looked a lot bigger than our girls yet a lot poorer on the ball.The media though are always gushing about spurs with all this fake dna nonsense like we’re supposed to believe that spurs have always been this great footballing establishment..

  2. I watched the game and agree with Bulldog’s assessment. Rotational fouling from the first minute to the last. The referee I am afraid to say was complicit and allowed Spurs to get away with murder by not clamping down at an early stage and showing a reluctance to get her yellow card out of her pocket. She also prevented a probable Arsenal goal by inexplicably blowing for a foul on an Arsenal player when we were clean through. The ball found the corner of the net but celebrations were cut short when our girls realised the stupid ref had blown for the foul. Even the commentators couldn’t see the sense of that decision! Add to that hitting the crossbar a couple of times plus a few world class saves from the Spurs goalie and I think it fair too say we really were unlucky not to claim all three points.
    Arsenal deserve credit for playing the game the way it should be played, the quality of some of their play is simply breathtaking.

  3. The standard of refereeing in the Women’s matches is frequently not good enough and with them now under the auspices of the PGMO I fear is unlikely to improve ant time soon. When it is good I mention it just as i do when it isnt.

    I don’t think the problem was necessarily with Spurs playing with the deep double row of 4, Köge played with a deep block of a 5 and a 4 and we managed toovercome them quite handily. We were desperately unlucky in neither of our efforts off the bar went in. The main problem seemed that we were playing on a tilted pitch. Some of the referees decisions seemed straight out of the Mike Dean playbook

    Spurs and their supporters will doubtless claim it as a great victory but football was certainly the loser.

  4. Managed to watch the last 20 minutes or so . Our play was a delight to watch , and was impressed with the standard of the women’s game.
    The ref did err very badly in not playing the advantage . That our players were incredulous with that decision is an understatement !
    Was glad to see the ball in the net , finally .

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