Arsenal LFC 2013 season review

Champions League 2012-13

Lost in semi-final to eventual winners Wolfsburg. A great result being 3 times semi-finalist in a row. In the end Wolfsburg had a little more quality than Arsenal and it showed in both games. Another excellent effort in Europe for the girls.

FA Cup 2012-13

Winners. First trophy won by Shelley Kerr beating Bristol in final. The trophy is back at Arsenal after a disappointing defeat the previous season to Chelsea. Another great result for the Ladies.

FA WSL Conti Cup 2013

Winners. The Ladies have won the first 3 editions. They beat Lincoln in the final to conclude in a positive manner the 2013 season.

FA WSL 2013

Third. Not qualifying for Champions League is a big blow and a big failure. Not retaining the title for the first time since 2002-03 is certainly disappointing also it is clearly due to the opposition improving while the Arsenal team kind of stagnated.
Although the season has not been bad with only one defeat on the opening day and 3 draws and the best defensive record, it was not enough to make the top 2 because of those draws and a 3 points deductions after fielding an ineligible player against Liverpool.

The League is your bread and butter and that result is a huge failure. Obviously the manager has a 2 years contract so she is safe due to this and also winning 2 trophies as well.
Nevertheless another season without qualifying for the champions would surely mean the end of her time at Arsenal.

Depending on who is leaving and who is coming in, the club might be in transition next season and it might be harder and harder to get into the top 2 places.


England 2 Wales 0

A very logic and fair result. As expected it was attack v defense and both side executed their game plan very well. If you remember how poor England were at the Euros, you wouldn’t believe the same players are involved and play the excellent attacking and creative football we saw yesterday.

An exceptional first goal to beat a well organised Welsh defense with one touch football concluded by a Nobbs chip and an excellent finish from Duggan on the volley although strong question mark on the free-kick that lead to the goal with Carney hitting Fishlock in the process who was unable to defend as she was just carrying another injury. 2 great goals for England huge ball possession as expected, loads of creative play. You can see Brent Hills has done an excellent giving confidence back to all the players and he also made choices with attacking and creative players on the pitch.

His 11 was Bardsley, Scott Stoney Houghton Bronze, Williams Nobbs Carney, Aluko White Duggan.

Bardlsey in goal well. The back 4 was solid and Houghton got in ahead of Bradley obviously to mark Ward with her pace. Both full back were very important on the attacking side and we saw Alex Scott very often on the wing. Williams Nobbs and Carney were at their creative best trying to find space between the Welsh lines and giving options for the forwards. Aluko, White and Duggan worked hard to find space and opportunities against a very dense defensive block.

Wales got their gameplan well executed and frustrated England for a long time. Unfortunately their main players got injured so early in the game that the small chance they had to get a win put of the game simply disappeared with Harding and Fishlock’s injuries. Harding couldn’t use her pace to help Ward up front and that made it easy for England’s defence, while Fishlock carried on for as long as possible with the injury before being strongly hit by Carney to add insult to injury England scored from the free-kick and finished the game there and then. Games are won and lost and small margins.

The Welsh team was Davies, Dykes Ingle Davies Bleazard, Harding Ladd Fishlock James, Wiltshire, Ward. They defended very well as a team but injuries disrupted the quality of play going forward. Still Wales created 3 clear chances but none went in. At that level, you need to be clinical when you are under so much pressure defensively but spending so much energy on defensive makes it hard for the forwards to finish chances.

A fair result with England dominating the game and Wales unlucky with injuries that deprived them from being able to hit England on the break a bit more.

The official POTM was Fara Williams. Why not ? I would say for Wales Hayley Ladd and for England Jordan Nobbs closely runned by Alex Scott

England v Wales WC qualifier

We have a derby on Saturday between England and Wales. Although there is no doubt England are favourites having battered Belarus and Turkey by huge margins, Wales will bother them a lot more.

FIFA ranking says there is a huge gap between the teams but the Welsh are full of confidence with a long winning streak. England under Brent Hills have found a formula that was missing at the Euros in Sweden with excellent passing movement and overall attacking style. It also helped that in form players are actually on the pitch like Duggan, Nobbs or Bronze.

So what should we expect on Saturday ? England will carry on with their attacking mentality and put Wales under siege as they did in the previous qualifiers. Wales will have to defend and work hard and avoid conceding early. Should England score early we could see another big scoreline as England confidence is already sky-high and boosted by that goal, it could be a long night for Wales.

Should Wales manage to frustrate England, there should be some interesting battle developping in that game. Both teams can use the 4-4-2 or the 4-3-3 system depending on players’ form and gameplan.

I look forward to see Nobbs and Fara Williams battle against Fishlock and James in midfield. Who ever has the upper hand there will probably lead their team to victory.

The final third battles will be important as well with both teams featuring very pacy forwards and slower defenders. Therefore, we can expect teams to try to get behind the opposition’s back four as often as possible. The first vertical pass might be decisive especially if the ball is won from defenders’ pass to midfielders. We know that Fishlock, Williams and Nobbs have the vision and skill to find the space and release Ward, Harding, White Yankey or Duggan.

So let’s have a guess at the starting 11 :


Dykes or Price Davies Ingle Bleazard
Fishlock James Green or Ladd
Wiltshire Ward Harding

England :

Bardsley or Chamberlain
Scott Stoney Bradley Bronze
Williams Nobbs Carney
White Duggan Yankey or Aluko

England’s new maturity in their attacking game should see them prevail but it won’t be easy to breakdown a well organised Welsh side that will certainly try to get behind England center backs at every opportunity.

Yeovil reserves v Arsenal reserves

Well it was probably one of the worse away trip I have done in term of travel. Gone at 7am and back at 9pm. South Ealing to Victoria to Clapham to Gillingham to Yeovil Junction plus a 4 mile walk in torrential rain. And back, thankfully I got a lift from the ground to the train station. And then, Yeovil to Gillingham, Gilligham to Salisbury, to Clapham to West Brompton, to Earl’s Court and South Ealing.

The people at Yeovil are very friendly and it was a pleasure to meet the manager Sarah and the chairman David at the game. The pitch was a bit waterlogged in part due to the amount of rain that fell very quickly but was very much playable. The game was played in a very good spirit with not many fouls or other stuff you can see in games when a team is better than the opposition.

So it finished 7-0 and it was a pleasure to watch some quality football. The starting 11 had a few changes from last week against the Bees :

Rowlands, Steele Sampson Ryan Bartrip, Williamson Bailey Bragg, Humphrey Weir Oliver. The subs used were Danbridge, Gaylor and Ayisi.

On a difficult pitch technically sound make a difference and Caroline Weir was superb, holding the ball, doing flicks, controlling the ball and finding space and passing options.

One of the satisfaction was some tactical response was found during the game to a problem where Yeovil were extremely compact but very high on the field. During the first 25 minutes, there was a problem but they soon found a solution, that’s why Taome and Caroline position were switched, to allow a good use of the wing space.

Overall the defense did not conceded too many chances and there was a lot of passing and creativity. A really good game for the team and now we have a break for the England U19 camp before the next game in a couple of weeks.

I shall be returning to watch a WSL 2 with Yeovil as they are a friendly and welcoming club.

Arsenal Ladies reserves v Oxford United reserves

The WSL development League as it is now called (rather than reserves) started today and the Arsenal Ladies team had a home game against Oxford United.

It has to be said, Oxford had a few first team players on show and that included 3 former Arsenal Academy girls in Sahara-Osbourne Ricketts, Katie Stanley and Kayleigh Hines.

The Arsenal team was. Sophie Harris, Molly Bartrip Leigh-Anne Robe Megan Ryan Amber Gaylor, Leah Williamson Jade Bailey Rebecca Danbridge, Carla Humphrey Freda Ayisi Caroline Weir. 3of those players are registered with the 1st team actually Bailey, Ayisi and Weir. They are all aged 19 and below.
Subs coming on were Bianca Bragg, Taome Oliver and Frances Steele. There were a lot of subs on the bench that were unused.

The final score was 7-1 with hat trick for Caroline and Carla plus a single by Molly.

Although the scoreline is suggesting a large win, it was a very interesting game with a strong and physical opposition. It is a good learning curve for the girls to face a tough opposition as it is a good preparation for first team football.

Regarding the game itself, let’s say the referee had a shocker but was not help by some of the rough play. Nevermind. There were some quality goals and some great passes during that game to counter balance that side of the game.

So overall a good start of the season and competition for places will be interesting this season, although I heard some WSL 2 teams are sniffing around already.