by Andrew Crawshaw
Arsenal women resume their season this coming Sunday with a home match against our biggest rivals Chelsea. The game is at the Emirates and there are more than 40,000 tickets sold to date.
Our last game before the Christmas break was a Champions League game against FC Zurich which we won very comfortably with a 9 – 1 scoreline. Our team that evening was:-
Manuella Zinsberger (GK)
Steoh Catley, Rafaelle Souza, Lotte Wobben-Moy, Noëlle Maritz
Lia Wälti, Frida Maanum, Leah Williamson
Caitlin Foord, Stina Blackstenius, Katie McCabe
Subs – Kaylan Marckese (GK), Naomi Williams (18year old GK), Laura Wienroither, Jordan Nobbs (62 for Lia Wälti), Kim Little (62 for Lotte Wubben-Moy), Lina Hurtig (62 for Stina Blackstenius), Mana Iwabuchi (74 for Frida Maanum) and Jen Beattie (81 for Steph Catley)
However, we were unable to field a full subs bench of nine players and one was an 18-year-old third-choice goalkeeper. Our squad was truly threadbare and we were particularly light in attack following the season-ending injuries to both Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema. On the night we were indebted to a wonderful performance by Frida Maanum who got a well-deserved hat trick as she ran the show from midfield.
Since that game Jordan Nobbs has left the club joining Aston Villa on an 18 month contract making the need for reinforcements all the more urgent. Fortunately, we have been active in the transfer market and are also boosted by the return of defender, Teyah Goldie, from her ACL injury, and forward, Gio Queiroz, recalled from her loan at Everton. In the transfer market we have brought in Victoria Pelova a 23 year old midfielder from Ajax and 19 year old Kathrine Kuhl from Danish side FC Nordsjælland. We have also added Patrick Winqvist as an additional assistant coach.
I want to look at these reinforcements in more detail…
Teyah Goldie is 18 and has been with Arsenal since she was six and has come through the youth ranks ever since. She signed her first professional contract on her 18th birthday (there is an anomaly between the ages girls and boys can sign their first professional contracts, girls do so at 18, boys at 17). Nominally a CB she can also play in midfield. She made her debut in April 2021 as a 16-year-old coming on as a substitute. She tore her ACL whilst playing for her loan club Watford in March 2021. Her return to the pitch will be a welcome boost to our squad depth.
Gio Queiroz is a 19-year-old Brazilian who is primarily a winger or attacking midfielder. She is a full international and played in the Copa America with Rafaelle Souza as they won that competition last summer. Signed in the summer transfer window from Barcelona, she was immediately loaned out to Everton as it was thought that she would get more playing time there than at Arsenal and that would be a better introduction to the WSL than bench warming with us. With the injuries to Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema however, there is clearly a greater need now for her here and her loan had been terminated early. Whilst not necessarily a starter over Caitlin Food or Katie McCabe she is sure to get minutes off the bench in most games and may well start in matches against lower-ranked teams.
Victoria Pelova is a 23 year old Dutch midfielder and full international since 2018 with 31 caps. More of a playmaker than a goalscorer she is nevertheless a welcome addition and will certainly be in contention for a starting slot in most games once she settles in and gets to know her new teammates and our systems.
Kathrine Kuhl. Signing Kathrine could well be the biggest coup in a long time. Whilst she is only 19 she is a full international and is widely regarded as the best footballing talent to come from Denmark since Pernille Harder who plays for Chelsea. She seems to be very mach in the same old as our captain and club legend Kim Little. I can’t help but feel that she will be regarded as a long-term successor for when Kim, who is now 32, when she decides to move on.
Further incoming additions are likely to be problematic as the 25 player rule applies to the Women’s as well as the Men’s squads. Of the 25 no more than 17 can be overseas players. Homegrown players must have been with an English registered club for a minimum of 3 years before their 21st birthday. We have 6 registered homegrown players in our squad and 16 overseas so we can sign a further 3 players of whom at least two must be homegrown.
We have been widely linked with two Canadian players, 29 year old goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo and 29 year old forward Cloé Lacasse. Neither of these seem to fit the age profile for incoming players so I remain sceptical. The links with Brazilian forward Debinah have come to nothing as she has decided to stay in the USA.
Currently our player list is
The final new face for now is assistant coach Patrick Winqvist who is the first coaching appointment made by Jonas Eidevall. Patrick was his assistant at his previous club and, in many ways it is unusual for an incoming coach to wait this long before bringing in trusted staff from his previous club. I think this will accelerate the emphasis on the higher-pressing style which he favours.
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