International football

France WNT : All change with Bergeroo ? A few numbers.

Well Bruno Bini has left after the Euro 2013 quarter-final failure and in has come Phillipe Bergeroo. So let’s see what choices he has made for the 6 games he has taken charge of. Long serving captain Sandrine Soubeyrand has retired from international football after the competition. France have played 2 friendlies against the Czech Republic and Poland  2-0, 6-0  and 4 World Cup qualifiers Kazahkstan 4-0, Austria 3-1 Bulgaria twice 10-0 and 14-0.  Tactically Bergeroo uses a 4-4-2 system, a change from Bini’s regular 4-2-3-1 system with Necib playing on the left wing.

Goalkeeper :

Bouhaddi 4 games. She is the clear number 1

Deville 2 games. The usual back-up to Bouhaddi.

Defender :

Renard 6 games. The new France Captain, 6 games out of 6, likes to score a few goals as well with her head.

Delannoy 5 games. She partners Renard rather than Georges as she is a better ball passer according to the coach.

Houara 5 games. It seems she has overtaken Franco in the right back pecking order and is also the back-up at left-back.

Boulleau 3+1 games. The first choice left-back, she has missed a few games due to injury.

Franco 3 games. She seems to be the back-up right back now

Georges 2 games she is now the back-up at center back.

M’Bock Bathy +2 games came on as a sub twice against Bulgaria. The U19 Euro and U17 WC winner is coming through and might be a regular soon.

Midfield :

Necib 6 games first choice on the left wing.

Thomis 5 games first choice on the right wing, despite some irregular performances this season.

Henry 5 games first choice at defensive midfield and rightly so.

Bussaglia 4+2 games competing with Abily for the 2nd center mid place, playing well as always with France.

Abily 3+1 games coming back from injury, she missed a few games and competing with Henry and Bussaglia for a starting place

Makanza +3 games came on as a sub 3 times out of 6, started the season well with MHSC

Catala +2 games seem to have been forgotten at the moment and has not been called up for the recent games, club form not the best

Toletti  +2 games another U19 Euro and U17 WC winner who is starting to knock at the door of the Senior team.

Kaci +1 game came on as sub against Poland

Lavaud + 1 the match winner in the U19 Euro final in 2010 against England, she has come as a sub against Bulgaria.

Forward

Delie 5 games number one choice at center forward nothing has changed from Bini’s era here except that she has now a striking partner to help as there ahas been games where she was quite isolated in the past.

Thiney 4+2 games She seems to be the preferred partner to Delie up front, has scored a few in those 6 games. Used to play more on the wing under Bini but not back in the middle.

Le Sommer 4+1 games has been used alternatively on the wing or up front. In very good form with many goals and assists this season.

Tonazzi +3 games basically the 4th option up front behind the 3 main forwards.

Conclusion : Bergeroo uses 13 starters for 11 places in his 4-4-2, he said he would experiment at the Cyprus Cup.

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Arsenal Ladies, FA WSL

Bristol Academy Reserves 2 Arsenal Ladies Reserves 0

A deserved victory for the Vixens who were more clinical and incisive when it mattered. They were dominant for most parts of the game, except early in the 2nd half and in the late part of the game. Excellent work from Loren Dykes, Angharad James, Georgia Evans and the right back who shone throughout the game. Their goalkeeper also made some quality saves.

For the Arsenal Ladies girls, it was a bit of a patched up side with a couple of players missing like Caroline Weir or a goalkeeper. Freda Ayisi was in goal until the Bristol 2nd goal when she went back up front and Meg Ryan went in goal. Leah Williamson was in great form and it is good news for the England U17 team. I won’t be surprised if she is registered for the Champions League squad in March alongside the other youngsters.

The Arsenal team was : Ayisi, Bartrip Ryan Robe Gaylor, Williamson Bailey Bragg, Humphrey Oliver Fatuga.
On came Steele and Sampson for Bailey and Oliver who was injured.

The pitch was very narrow, I mesured it at 58 meters, and it was helping the defending teams in terms of pressing. There was a lot of congestion in middle area and ball side.

On a normal pitch, you can switch to the opposite wing to create space as the 1st team did against Glasgow City in the home leg at the Hive. With quality passes from Houghton and Little, it happened quite a lot and Yankey saw plenty of the ball that day.
We did not see that kind of play very often to Humphrey or Fatuga, not many switching passes or diagonal balls behind the defense as the pitch had a good length. So it was a constant battle to pass the ball through the Bristol defense that was well organised. There were a few good one, two or three touches sequences, where the girls managed to find space and shots, but overall, they didn’t find it easy to get behind Bristol’s defence.
Things got better in the final 20 when Ayisi was restored up front and a different football style was implemented, due to Freda’s strength in holding the ball.

It was a tough game and we did not see much of a technical or mental leadership during the game. In a difficult game, you expect someone to take control and lead the team by example. Leah Williamson did that but the more attacking and the more senior players could have helped her more as well.

Overall there were some fine individual performances and average ones, but things didn’t click as a team for some reasons ?

Those tough games are a good test to see who has a strong personality under pressure and hopefully we will have a good response next Sunday against Reading managed by Jayne Ludlow.

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International football

British girls abroad doing well at Uni on the USA

As someone was mentioning, there are not many English players abroad : Anita Asante, Kirsty Moore, Rebecca Angus to name a few.

For those who follow the US college football or soccer as they wrongly call it there, yesterday was the day the 64 teams for the NCAA tournament were disclosed. There is a good contingent of British players who will take part in the tournament this year.

Ashleigh Goddard and Rachel Pitman with De Paul while Rachel Daly and Georgia Kearney Perry with St John’s.

Ash and Pit were at the Arsenal Academy prior to coming to De Paul, Rachel was at Lincoln Ladies and Georgia at Watford. All 4 played for England youth.

They all had a succesful season with their team and it is a big honor to qualify for this tournament as they don’t play for the biggest Uni there.

Those university are a very good set-up as the girls end up playing 4 years of football with more training sessions that they’d have in England and also with a degree, something that is needed as women’s football is not professional yet and they will all need a job.

On the football side, the improvement is huge as well if you compare to the girls in the same age group. I have seen Ashleigh play 5 a side and 11 a side here in England while the season was off over there and her improvement has been really good.

A lot of the girls who were at the Arsenal Academy at the same time as Ash and Pit now work full time while playing football, they play in WSL 1,2 and in the Southern Division. While they play top level football, the “post formation ” which should follow the CoE and Academy has been missed.

You see it happen in men’s football as well, when young players start playing first team football at an early age and don’t carry on developing between 18 to 21-22.

So hopefully one of the girl will end up playing in the NWSL while the other will come back in the FA WSL.

And the last point : Rachel Daly is the leading goalscorer in the NCAA overall. You might remember her as a defender in England but she has gone back to her original position up front with great success.

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Arsenal Ladies

Quality game against Glasgow City a fitting tribute to departing players

It was dubbed the battle of Britain and in the end, it was very much an attack v defense game. Glasgow City were well organised and defending in a very compact 9-1 system, trying to crowd out all the Arsenal initiatives down the middle but leaving themselves open to Arsenal quality in switching ball to the opposite wing towards Yankey for example.

It was a long day for the poor lone forward for City who couldn’t hold the ball much and therefore forced City to play deep and not go out of their half and inside Arsenal territory very often.
I have to say, I found it extremely curious to see Jess Fishlock deployed on the wing rather than in central midfield and she was not able to influence the game as much as usual.

3-0 was certainly a fair result on the day with Arsenal actually missing a few opportunities to finish the tie. It was nice to see Kelly Smith back and her class was evident in the few minutes she was on the pitch.

There was some super quality passing sequences from Arsenal with a lot of one or two touches and a very good use of the full backs with Scott and Mitchell bombing forward as much as possible as they had nobody to take care about defensively with Flaherty and Houghton marshalling City’s lone forward easily.

It was a brilliant send-off for the departing Arsenal players although no mention on the program or from the PA who had a nightmare calling a White hat trick when she scored none on the day ( Houghton, Carter and an own goal). He even called a White goal when Nobbs shot wide of the post !

Unless something special happens in 3 days Arsenal will go through to the quarter finals in March 2014 but it certainly will be a different Arsenal team. We don’t know how many players will leave but up to 7 are rumoured to go and the same number to arrive as well. If you add the 2 players that left during the summer window and the one that was forced out of the club, a turnover/clearout of 10 players would mark the end of a very succesful era at Arsenal Ladies.

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FA WSL, Transfers

The silly season starts now !

Last year was supposed to be a big year in term of transfers and indeed came many foreigners to the FA WSL.

If we look back at last winter’s window : Chelsea and Liverpool were the main agitators bringing a lot of players with different fortunes of course. It looked like the first year when many foreigners arrived in the FA WSL although statistics showed that the increase was not huge in term of percentage overall.

So what can be expected for the winter 2014 transfer window? First, it is the same situation as last year when a good number of players went out of contracts which means they are available to sign right now.

We have a certain number of teams who will have to build or rebuild their squad.

Manchester City are poised to bring a lot of quality signings if they want to be competitive as their squad finished far from the top teams in the FA WPL National Division last season.

Notts County Ladies also need to rebuild after finishing at a poor 6th place which was not a good return on the investment.

The same thing can be said of Chelsea Ladies, that 7th place was very disappointing considering there were many quality players in the squad.

Everton Ladies put the emphasis on youth last season and kept their main players Scott and Duggan, wth Parris being superb as well. With limited finance, you just expect them to make clever signings to complement their young talent.

The same can be said about Birmingham City Ladies that went for the youth last season and will look to carry on that way and get the reward from that policy . They must add a few quality players if they want to compete for the top 2.

Arsenal Ladies will be in transition next year, it will come after a very curious year that saw them finish 3rd miss on Champions League (unless they win it this year) but also won the 2 cups. Many departures and arrivals are expected and the squad will be amputed from the core of players that have been there for 10 years plus for the first time.

Bristol Academy will have the Champions League carrot to bring in quality players to the squad that finished 2nd in the League. A huge achievement and you would expect them to pick and choose quality players to improve the 2 or 3 positions needed.

Liverpool have made the wholesale of changes last season, so they should only bring a few quality players to prepare for the Champions League competition, if they want to go far.

Rachel Williams from Birmingham to Chelsea is the 1st big move for the 2014 winter transfer window but many more will come soon. Could we see more World Cup, Olympics or Euro winner come to the FA WSL ?

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