FA WSL

Lincoln v Arsenal : the armchair view

So the game ended 1-1 with Lincoln nearly stealing the 3 points with an Emily Roberts goal 3 minutes from time. Luckily for Arsenal captain Steph Houghton managed to curl a magnificent goal to equalise a minute later. Had the game finished 1-0 for Lincoln, the word crisis at Arsenal would have probably started to appear among fans.

So what did I see on the box :
First excellent defending from Lincoln. Defending as a team is an art and maintaining it for 90 minutes is really complicated physically and mentally. They rode their luck from time to time but as expected they were very difficult to beat. The downside of this is their attacking threat was very limited with 2 good chances coming from a Byrne missed clearance and a deflected shot that ended as a perfect through ball.

Then an Arsenal team in the continuity from the previous league game : very good on the ball, creating chances but lacking a clinical finish on the day. The classic attack v defense game is not easy to manage at all to be fair because as much as you try to find an opening against a very solid wall in front of you, you still have to find a balance to avoid overloading the attacking area with players and get hit on the break, if you have to many players forwards.

What we rarely saw yesterday and that we see with the men’s team or the reserves in one of the center back coming through the middle of the park (with the risk it involves of course ) to add an extra player and surprise that well organised defence. Laurent Koscielny does it regularly coming out with the ball and Meg Ryan does it as well for the reserves. Actually Gilly Flaherty did it once in the game a very good move and an excellent shot that was well saved by Bardsley. As it is obviously dangerous for the balance of the team if it is not properly coordinated with the defensive midfield player, it is to be used only from time to time but can be useful against a very solid defensive block.

I also thought that Jenny Beattie could have been sent up front for the last 10 minutes at least to create a different challenge for the 2 Lincoln center backs. Jenny is obviously a powerful player very dangerous on any aerial ball, can hold he ball and bring players in. Simply a get a different center forward profile around. Either linking with Ellen White in a 4-4-2 or just 4-3-3 with Steph Houghton going at left back and Jayne Ludlow or Jade Bailey getting into midfield.

The other available options on the bench were Bianca Bragg and Lauren Bruton who could have come in the number 8 or 10 position and on either wing respectively. I don’t think Ludlow and Yankey are fit despite being named on the teamsheet.

But you certainly have a problem when you have played 3 games in 8 days and made 1 sub in those 3 games. It means the forward are a bit tired and sometimes lack the spontaneity or just need an extra 3/10 of a second to make a move or a decision that allow the defence to come back at them.

Overall a draw is a fair result between a team that attacked as much as possible and the other one defending very well and definitely earned their point.

Games are coming thick and fast and next Arsenal game is on Sunday at home to Bristol in the Conti Cup where a point will be needed for the Gunners to go through while Lincoln will host Birmingham and a point will be enough as well (or even 0 in special circumstances).

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