Bristol v Arsenal

An easy win for Arsenal by 3 goals to nil with Gemma Davison the star of the show.

Having seen Bristol play well against Birmingham and most of the time against Doncaster, it was definitely a disappointing performance for the Vixens. For some reason they didn’t create much, I think they had 2 chances for the whole game. They played the usual 3-4-3 system but it didn’t seem to trouble Arsenal.
The starting line-up was : Chamberlain, James Rose Matthews, Dykes Windell Fishlock Yorston, Lawley Heatherson Watts.
The early injury to Windell pushed James in midfield and McCatty came on at right back. Harding came on later up front for Heatherson and Green for James.
Overall a very average performance for Bristol.

Arsenal had a surprise in store in the usual 4-3-3 with no Ludlow who must be back on the treatment table and Nobbs up front. The starting line-up was
Byrne, Scott Grant Flaherty Fahey, Chapman Houghton Little, Davison Nobbs Yankey. Only sub used was Beattie for Houghton. Arsenal took control of the game early and kept a tight grip on it for the whole 90 minutes. For the first goal, it looked to me there was a clear foul and a head injury but the referee said play on apparently. Well, we had no luck with the referee 2 weeks ago. This week is the opposite, not much you can do when those things happen. Overall a very solid performance, 3 important points.

I think tactically Bristol overcrowd some area on the pitch to win the ball back easily and pressure the opposition but yesterday there was none of this and Arsenal’s wingers were often playing one v one with one of the 3 Bristol defenders.  The 3-4-3 is really a double edged sword, if you are not compact enough or if the opposition has quality passing the defenders can end up in trouble. For example Gemma Davison had a lot of one on one v Jazz Matthews and Jessica Fishlock had to help to double up with her from her central midfield position which wasn’t ideal.

Women’s Champions League Final in Muenchen

50 212 fans, that’s a fantastic figure number. Of course, it was a bank holiday in Germany and there was a German team involved but clearly they love their women’s football there.

The game was top quality and you expect it from two full time professional teams. I think it is clear, there is now a gap between the English teams that train 2 or 3 times a week and those elite european side. This is simply due to those extra hours of training where players train on their individual technique and fitness as well as team tactics and general teamwork.

Frankfurt started very well until they gave away a stupid penalty that Le Sommer duly transformed. Then Lyon scored again from a magnificent Abily lob from 30 yards and that was it. Both side missed many chance and the final score was 2-0 but it could as well been 5-2.

So if we want to compare the Champions League from the quarter-finals onwards to the WSL:
The tactical side seems a lot more developped. The physical intensity is a bit higher but not by much as the English “get stuck in” motto and regular individual fitness training put the English players level with those professional players.

The main difference really is found on individual skill and technique as the professional players have time to develop those and translate those things on the pitch.

Also the attacking football possession based orientated is a lot more present than in most WSL side although this season many teams seem to have decided to play the passing game.

But when you look at Arsenal playing both games against Frankfurt with 3 defensive/relaying type midfield and no playmaker, you can ask some questions really. Why that lack of attacking instinct. With London the place for the 2012/13 final, let’s hope Birmingham and Arsenal will manage to reach that final and entertain the local fans.

FA WSL Day 5

Bristol 3 Doncaster 2

Chelsea 3 Everton 1

Birmingham 3 Liverpool 1

Lincoln 1 Arsenal 1

1. Arsenal 10 pts played 4  11-6
2. Birmingham 8 pts played 4 9-3
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3. Chelsea  8 pts played 5  9-7
4. Bristol 7 pts played 4 7-4
5. Lincoln 5 pts  played 4 6-6
6. Everton 4 pts played 4 4-6
7. Liverpool 1 pt played 4 4-11
8. Doncaster 0 pt played 3 3-10

Bristol, Chelsea and Birmingham are catching up with Arsenal. With nearly a 3rd of the league games already played, every points count. Teams are not entering the final stretch but clearly every draw and defeat are costly as there are 6 teams in for the 2 champions league places. Those 6 teams are more or less at the same playing quality level so that race could be wide open until the final day.

Team GB 49 players shortlist, what’s the big secret ?

Players have come out saying the list has been shortened to 49 players. I have asked the FA if they would publish it because it is interesting to know who has a chance and who hasn’t made it. Well only the final 18+4 players will be announced. For some reasons, it is not in the public interest to divulge who is in the shortlist.

As far as I know 5 players publicly said they were in : Jill Scott, Alex Scott and 3 players from Bristol Academy were named in the last game program : Chamberlain, Fishlock and Dykes. That’s about 44 to guess now lol.

The original very long list rumoured to be between 100 and 150 players actually had missed a couple of good players.

Let’s say if you have won the US League (WPS) last season, plus in the past the WPL, the League Cup the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup and being a regular in your side you are not a bad player and should be in the long list.

Also if you have been the most consistent center back for your team for the last 3 seasons and that team won a treble the previous season and you also have collected winners medals through the previous years in the League Cup, FA Cup, County Cup and even the UEFA Cup (without playing to be fair) well you are not a bad player either.

So those two players who have done it got t-shirt and are eligible did not even make the long list ? While some clearly inferior quality player made it, some questions should be ask really.

As we all know coaches will always prefer players who fit their system. So for example tall or slow or limited technical ability and passing skill players have been chosen at center back. Another example is fast players at center forward with not so much goalscoring skills.

We will probably have to guess who the other 44 players are. Guessing list to come later 😉

Lincoln 4 Arsenal 3 Conti cup group stage

This is 4th defeat this season and unlike the previous 3, it is difficult to understand why it did happen.

First Lincoln had a very good game, their forwards caused a lot of damage and their set pieces were dangerous. Then the referee was randomly giving foul upsetting both side and therefore clearly not favoring anyone. The pitch was not very good but it is the same for both side. That’s it for the non control-parameters.

The 4 goals :

#1 I believe the ball entered directly from the corner making it a valid goal. If the ball has not gone totally over the line, well it is another problem. Sophie Harris in goal was charged ans slightly injured in the process while clearing the ball and therefore unable to defend her goal. According to the law of the games it is actually dangerous play and a booking. We saw in the Bolton Stoke yesterday that charging the goalkeeper seems to be allowed these days. Why the referees in this countries take regular liberties with the laws of the game never fail to astonish me. Same with the lack of punishment for breaking the leg/ankle/knee of an opponet but that’s anothere debate lol.

#2 cheap free kick given away and an own goal.

#3 clear penalty given away

#4 defense a bit asleep on the right side, clearance went to the middle on the edge of the penalty area. Superb volleying technique by Megan Harris. Goal of the year contender.

The other problems, considering Lincoln had a makeshift back 4, well there wasn’t many chances created. This is due to quality problem in the ball possession. Restricted space, poor pitch, lack of solutions for the ball holder. Still not sure why and what happened there to be honest ?

The players were up for it and gave a good fight there so there was nothing wrong on that side. Game was physical with a lot of fouling from both side, but random whistling for fouls made it complicated.

Invidual performances : they range from good to poor via average. Some players have not been has good as expected recently and really should be rested but injuries doesn’t allow it to happen.

Team selection : some surprising choices in defense and up front.

Overall a very perplexing performance on the day. A draw would have been a fair result.

FA WSL Conti Cup Day 2 results

Group 1

Bristol 1 Birmingham 1
Everton 1 Doncaster 0

1. Birmingham and Bristol 4 pts Goal Difference +1 GS 2 GA 1
3. Everton 3 pts Goal difference 0 GS 1 GA 1
4. Doncaster 0 pt

Doncaster is out of the FA WSL Conti Cup

Group 2

Lincoln 4 Arsenal 3
Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1

1.Lincoln 6 pts
2. Arsenal 3 points GD +2
3. Chelsea 3 points GD 0
4 Liverpool 0 pt

Liverpool is out of the FA WSL Conti cup.

So the bottom 2 of the League are out of the cup already.

Lincoln first team qualified for the semi-final.

The  group games will be played:

Sat 9th June 2012

Lincoln Ladies FC v Liverpool Ladies FC

Sun 10th June 2012

Birmingham City Ladies FC v Doncaster Rovers Belles Ladies FC

Everton Ladies FC v Bristol Academy Women FC

Arsenal Ladies FC v Chelsea Ladies FC

There has been no comment from the FA about the tie-breaker between teams finishing with equal points ie head to head result or overall goal difference. In the Group 2 it doesn’t make a difference because the head to head game is the decider, but in Group 1 it could make a difference should Everton and Birmingham finish both with 4 points.

Bristol v Birmingham Conti Cup group stage

It was really a game of 2 halves yesterday between Bristol and Birmingham with Bristol dominating the first one and birmingham dominating the second one. A fascinating encounter tactically speaking with Bristol having an unusual set-up that Birmingham had trouble dealing for the whole first half and then made a substitution at half time that took care of the problem hence dominating the second half.

So Bristol set-up in a 3-1-3-3- system, something I hadn’t seen for a while in football probably since the Cruyff era at Barcelona or maybe recently used by Guardiola to accomodate Fabregas and their lack of defenders. Chamberlain in goal, a back three of James, Rose and Matthews ( 2 full backs and a center back ), one holding midfield, Windell or Fishlock alternating, 3 midfield players Dykes, Windell or Fishlock, and a front 3 of Lawley, Heatherson and Watts.

On the opposite side Birmingham was set as a classical if a bit unbalanced 4-4-2 with Hourihan preferred to Spencer in goal, Weston Bassett Westwood and Unitt at the back. Potter holding the midfield Christiansen on the right, Harrop on the left and Carney in the playmaker withdrawn position. Up front Aluko on the right wing and Williams at center forward.

Offensively Bristol offered a lot of movement and solutions to the ball holder as they were very compact in the first half. Using Dykes and Lawley on the right wing to double up against Unitt while using Watts well on the left wing from long cross balls. Fishlock dictating play from midfield to great effect orientating from her central midfield position. Defensively , Dykes would tuck in alongside James creating a back 4 when Birmingham was attacking, most of the game Jemma Rose was left marking Rachel Williams one on one and clearing up all the long balls that came her way.

Birmingham mixed it up a bit more in term of passing with sometimes build up from the back and direct balls down the channels for Aluko and Williams to run at. They created a few chances but had trouble on the left wing with Harrop not suited to run and chase and outnumbered by James and Dykes most of the time.

That problem led actually to the half time substitution with Jade Moore coming on for Rachel Unitt. With Moore alongside Potter, Birmingham took control of the midfield area. Harrop went to left back, Christiansen switched to the left wing were she cound do some damage, and Carney got on the ball a lot more in the second half. Another important point in the game was Heatherson injury in the lead-up to Yorston’s goal. Ellie Curson came on but didnt offer much of a physical presence up front. This was solved later in the game by introducing Harding for Lawley who had a very good game.

Overall a very good game of football and a fair result. 1-1 Goals by Yorston and Moore, bookings for Fishlock and Westwood.