Arsenal LFC v Birmingham City LFC, UEFA WCL quarter finals second leg

A well deserved and logical win for Birmingham yesterday. 2-0 and 3-0 on aggregate says it all. Goals by Kirsty Linnett and Remi Allen, both of them coming from quality individual and team play.

Shelley Kerr had decided to keep the faith in the same 11 that failed to produce a shoot on target on Monday at St Andrews. There was certainly an improvement as Rebecca Spencer had to make a good number of saves including a vital one from Ohno when the score was still 0-0. Still no goals to show for and an obvious lack of right winger in the squad as Dan Carter seem quite frustrated on the wing.

The front 3 of Carter, Smith and Yankey tried to create things and they combined with the 2 attacking midfielders Ohno and Weir to make things happen. Birmingham well drilled and organised defensive block did a great job overall and Arsenal rarely managed to get behind the Blues defense.

To be fair when you are rebuilding a team : the team passing & movement and the overall attacking organisation takes time to mature. Players need to know each other and out of the 5 forwards involved only Yankey and Carter had played together last season on a regular basis.

So the fact that an attacking team in transition was beaten by a superior organised team was only a half surprise. Birmingham had 9 players from last season starting again. Remi Allen and 16 years old Jess Carter being the newbies and already fully integrated.

The only good bit of news yesterday for the Arsenal was the 1st team debut for 17 years old Leah Williamson and also one rare appearance for homegrown and 20 years old with 10 seasons at Arsenal Bianca Bragg. Also an excellent second half performance by Freda Ayisi

Tyreso FF and its all star Swedish/Brazilian/Spanish/American line-up awaits now and it will be certainly a very good test for the young Birmingham team.

As for the Arsenal : a potential banana skin in the FA Cup at home to Gillingham after the international break and then a very tough opener away at Notts County are the first 2 fixtures for the domestic season.

There is no doubt that the players need to learn to play with each other otherwise a bottom half finish in the FA WSL table might be a possibility. Jordan Nobbs return will certainly boost the attack when she is fit in a month or two.

Birmingham v Arsenal Champions League quarter final

A deserved 1-0 win for Blues last night with newcomer Remi Allen scoring the lone goal of the night and 16 years old Jess Carter making her first team debut and awarded the Player of Match accolade.

There is are 2 numbers that were clearly in evidence last night : 8 and 5 ie the players who were regular starters from last season at kick-off.
Birmingham had Spencer, Weston, Harrop, Potter, Moore, Carney, Linnett, Lawley with Carter, Allen and Mannion alongside them.

Arsenal had Byrne, Scott, Mitchell, Carter and Yankey. Kinga, Stoney, Ohno are new players, Bailey and Weir are young and talented but did not start many games last season, Smith was injured for 90% of the season.

Tactically what did we see, first Birmingham in a 4-5-1 system for the first 15 minutes with Linnett isolated up front, then they decided to reduce the space between the lone forward and midfield and it ended up balancinf into a 4-4-1-1 with Allen making runs from a more advances position on the break and a 4-2-3-1 when Blues were in possession with Moore Potter anchoring the midfield. Dave Parker threw a surprise with midfield youngster Carter at left back rather than Meg Sargeant.

What I saw at Arsenal was a very fluid 4-1-5 formation with Byrne in goal preferred to Chamberlain Scott Stoney Kinga and Mitchell in the back 4, Bailey anchoring the midfield and the front 5 potato mash formation or that alternatively can be also called total football. Take you pick of Smith, Weir, Ohno, Carter and Yankey all interchanging position in front of Bailey. When it is well executed, this is a nightmare for defenders to play against as a different kind of players pops up in your zone every 5 minutes.

But as I mentioned it was more mash potatoes than total football. Arsenal created chances but unfortunately they were all off targets and we all know you don’t often score goals with shots off targets (unless someone inadvertently diverts the ball of course).

So what came clearly out of the game is Birmingham players knew each other well from last season, while the Arsenal ones are still learning how to play with each other and the team will gel as the season advances.

In term of individual performances there were many good ones for Blues : Weston, Carter, Moore, Potter, Allen, Lawley and Linnett. Blues clearly won the midfield battle by preventing Arsenal to develop many passing sequences.

While for Arsenal Byrne was solid except for one punch early in the game that led to a Lawley chance. Scott made a lot of forwards run and had a good battle with Lawley, the center back pair struggled against Linnett and individually will also need to do better otherwise Hoogendjiik and Williamson might come and take their place.

And one of the important sub plot from last night was the Arsenal bench players : Chamberlain and Hoogendjiik are experienced and the rest were quality youngsters with extremely limited first team experience unlikelty to be put on the pitch also we saw Ayisi for Yankey. Freda used her strength and power to good effect. The other girls are regular and talented reserves player. That’s what happens when you loose 14 players in 2 transfer window. You end up with promising but inexperienced player on the bench and Kerr is known for not making many changes.

So overall a deserved win for Blues and Arsenal will need to work hard to improve that performance and not to conceded an away goal otherwise they will need to score 3.

The tie is wide open and Tyreso FF awaits in the semi-final with their Swedish-American-Brazilian combo funded by the Swedish taxpayers.

FA WSL Development League Cup semi-final draw

The draw has finally been made and the ties are :

Arsenal v Everton
Aston Villa v Liverpool

Games to be played on the 27th of April ie on the same day as the FA Women’s Cup Round 6. Bad news for fans who would have to choose between the 2 cup games.

On the plus side, it would mean the teams would not be able to bring 1st team players in as it has happened in previous reserves cup big games.

We could see a repeat of the FA Girls Youth Cup that will see Everton and Liverpool compete in the curtain raiser for the FA Women’s Cup final played at MK Dons.

Birmingham v Arsenal, Champions League quarter final 1st leg preview

The Champions League tie will be the first official game for both side for the 2014 season. Pre-season friendlies have not given much indications as both teams have played behind closed door games and therefore not much information is available.

Birmingham have lost Mary Earps recently and Jess Myers is injured so Sophie Baggaley will be Rebecca Spencer’s back up. Jordan Nobbs has a back injury and Christie Murray is cup tied for Arsenal, which means the midfield options are limited. Other players also were carrying knocks / coming back from injury : Smith, Stoney and Hoogendjiik. Fahey is back from her ACL and has not played an official  game since last May.

Possible 11 for Blues

Spencer, Weston Westwood Harrop Sargeant, Moore Potter Allen,  Carney Linnett Lawley

Subs from Baggaley, Mannion, George, Torkildsen, J Carter, Simpkins, Keryakoplis, Haines, Wilkinson

Possible 11 for the Gunners

Byrne, Scott Stoney Hoogendjiik Mitchell, Bailey Weir Ohno , D Carter Smith Yankey,

Subs from Chamberlain, Fahey, Williamson, Kinga, Bragg, Ayisi, Robe, Humphrey, Steele, Oliver, Bartrip, Sampson

Blues have the home davantage and also the fact that 9 or 10 out of the possible starting 11 were there last season, while Arsenal will have a much changed side from last year.

Blues are therefore favorite to win the game on Monday as they could catch an Arsenal side still in process of gelling on and off the pitch.

As usual in any game, one of the key will be the midfield area and who will win that battle. While Jo Potter and Jade Moore have a lot of hours together, the Arsenal midfield won’t have much time together besides the friendly games unless Shelley Kerr plays Bailey and Weir with Ohno in front of the 2 youngsters. Bailey and Weir have played many games with the development side since September. Remi Allen or Jess Carter will also add some bite in midfield should they get selected. Arsenal could also select Fahey or Kinga to play in front of the back 4, Fahey played there in 2011 against Lyon and Chelsea in the FA WSL opener.

If we look at what will happen on the wings, Yankey v Weston will be a good battle, same with Carney v Mitchell and Lawley v Scott. Whoever wins those battle will surely make a decisive contribution in the game. Not sure who will play on the right wing for Arsenal on Monday as there are no right winger any more in the squad except Carla Humphrey. Dan Carter or Freda Ayisi should get the nod with Carter the more experienced player in the position.

Up front for Blues Linnett will try to find space behind the Arsenal defence especially the 2 center backs, while Ayisi, Carter or Smith will be using their strength to bring other players in and use the midfield players forwards runs.

Esther Staubli will be  the referee for the game.

The FA WSL 2014 competition rules quick analysis

This is an analysis  from the FA WSL competition rules 2014

All Clubs must be affiliated to an English County Football Association

No chance for Glasgow City or Cardiff to join the WSL at the moment, after all this is an English League unlike the men’s Premier League where Welsh teams an join or the Women’s Premier League.

All Clubs must enter a team in the FA WSL Development League.

Nothing special here, just the new name for reserves team, development league level is supposed to be an improvement from the old reserves leagues. As far as I have seen so far, it is the case, espeically as soem teams have used it to keep their first team players fit.

All Clubs seeking to obtain or retain a Club Licence must have grounds or headquarters situated in England which comply with (i) the requirements of the latest edition of the “Ground Grading Minimum Requirements – National Women’s Grade A” document (which shall be equivalent to the minimum requirements of the latest edition of “National Ground Grading Category D”) and (ii) the provisions of the Club Licence concerning facilities and grounds

Grading for grounds has not changed from previous season rules.

A Contract Player means any Player who is eligible to play for the Club for which she is registered under a written contract of employment with a Club. Contract Players must be Contracted on the standard player contract as specified by The Football Association from time to time. All contracts and financial arrangements must comply with Rule C1 of the Rules of The Football Association

A Non-Contract Player means a Player who is eligible to play for the Club for which she is registered but has not entered into a written contract of employment with that Club. Subject to the below, Non-Contract Players shall only be entitled to be reimbursed expenses actually incurred in relation to their playing for the Club and shall not entitled to any other payment in relation to their performance for the Club. Such expenses must be in accordance with Rule C2(b)(iii) of The Rules of the Association. The only exception to this rule is in the event that the Club appoints a Non-Contract player as a Youth Club Ambassador in accordance with the Club Licence, in which case such player may also be paid a sum in connection with the provisions of services in her role as Youth Club Ambassador.

All the non contracts player are not paid  basically.They can play for a team but are not being paid. And can leave as they please.

Squad Cap

Each Club may only register a maximum of 40 Players (including long term loan players) plus 2 Players on short term loan, to play in the Competition each Season (the “Squad Cap”). The Squad Cap includes player registrations for the Clubs’ FA WSL Development League team. Subject to the remainder of this paragraph (D), if a Player is registered with a Club to play in the Competition for the Season, that Player shall continue to count towards the Squad Cap for the remainder of the Season even if that Player stops playing for the Club during the Season for any reason (except if the Player is transferred to another Club).

This is a change from last year 23 players + loans  rules.  40 players for the 1st team and reserves team allows for young players to get a chance rather than having a squad full of players. For example had the limit been 50 players, there would have been no chance of youngsters getting a first team game, even with injuries and suspension. This rule is clearly made for young players’ development.

During both the First and Second Transfer Windows (as defined in (L) below) in each season, each Club shall be entitled to remove or replace a maximum of three (3) Players (for each transfer window) which have previously been registered and included in its Squad Cap for that season by notice to the League Secretary. Each Club shall be entitled to select which, if
any, 6 Players it so removes or replaces from its Squad Cap in its sole discretion. For the avoidance of doubt, Clubs shall only be entitled to exercise this right during the First and Second Transfer Window in each season. Once a Player has been removed from the list of players registered to play in the Competition each Season, such Player shall no longer be entitled to play in the Competition for the Club.

This is a bizzare point to me clubs can transfer 3 players but also remove 6 other players? It does not make sense at all. So does it mean transfer are limited to 9 per transfer window ?? Although the next point shows that you can extend the number of players you can transfer by request, this is puzzling.

The Management Committee may on a case by case basis, upon application by a Club, (i) approve an increase in the Squad Cap for that Club for the remainder of the Season only, and/or (ii) approve the removal of a player from a Club’s Squad Cap for the remainder of the Season (so that such player shall no longer be considered to form part of the Squad Cap). Any Club wishing to request such an increase or removal must submit a written request to the League Secretary, along with all supporting information and documentation for their request. The Management Committee may provide any approval or refuse any such a request in its discretion, and may make any approval subject to such limitations, restrictions and conditions as it sees fit.

The number of transfer can actually be increased on request so what the point of getting limits in transfer ?

 

Each Club may only register a maximum of two non EU /EEA players at any time, any such registration to be subject to receipt of a Work Permit through the necessary Points Based System.

A VERY IMPORTANT RULE for the foreigners with only 2 non EU/EEA players allowed. With as many as 44 foreign players currently signed, you wonder if teams are players with double nationality to go around that rule.  I will have another post on the foreign players spread in the FA WSL through the years soon.

Each Club must ensure that at least 50 percent of Players registered within its Squad Cap are considered home grown players under the Home Grown Player Rule (as per Appendix F), as updated from time to time.

APPENDIX F

HOME GROUP PLAYER REGULATION (sic)

To become a home grown player, irrespective of nationality or age, that player must be registered at a club affiliated to the FA for a period , continuous or not, of three seasons or 36 months prior to their 21st birthday (or the end of the season in which the player turns 21

 Homegrown rule with spelling mistake in the title as well. Interesting that the FA requires 3 years playing in England before the 21st birthday. Will club do like the men’s one and bring players at the age of 18 or earlier to fit that rule?

(K) Player Registrations and Transfers – Registration and Transfer Windows

The Football Association will nominate two windows in each season during which contracted player registrations and transfers will be permitted for the Competition, the first of which shall begin prior to the start of the season (the “First Window”) and the second of which shall begin during the season (the “Second Window”).The Football Association shall notify the Clubs of the dates of the First Window and the Second Window each season.

Non Contract player registrations and transfers shall be permitted outside of these windows.

Normal procedure with 2 transfer windows for contracted players, non contract players are basically free agents who can move whenever they want, you wonder where the out of contracts players are classified as free agents ie non contracted?

A Club may only register up to a maximum of 4 Players who are either Long Term Loans or Short Term Loans in any Season, with no more than 2 in any one category per Season.

No Club may loan more than 2 Players on short term loan transfers to any one Club in the Competition at any one time.

Loan number is limited and to be honest with a squad of 40 players the need for a loan should be limited??

Clubs shall support The Football Association in relation to International Matches in accordance with the provisions of The Football Association Rules.

A Club having 3 players or more selected for International Duty by their National Association for Senior or Under 19 UEFA and FIFA competitive matches may request a postponement of its League fixture provided at least 10 days’ notice is given to the League Secretary in writing. If 1 player is selected and that player is the goalkeeper, a Club could make a similar request for the postponement of its League fixture. This will only apply to Senior or Under 19 UEFA and FIFA competitive matches which are played within the FIFA Women’s International Match Calendar.

Current international competitions for the 2014 year : World Cup qualifiers, UEFA U19 Elite round and final tournament FIFA U20 World Cup. That rule might be used by teams having a lot of youngsters called up for those tournaments. And create a backlog of games as seen last season with the U19 Euro played in Wales.

At the end of the Matches for each Season, the Club scoring the highest number of points in each Division shall be declared the Champion Club of that Division. Three points shall be awarded for each Match won and one point to each Club involved in a Match which is drawn.

If any two or more Clubs are equal in points at the end of the Season, the higher placed Club shall be decided on goal difference.

In each case of goal difference, the goals scored against shall be deducted from the goals scored by and the winner shall be the Club with the largest difference. In the event of the difference being equal, the higher placed Club shall be the Club which has scored more goals.

If two or more Clubs have the same goal difference and have scored the same number of goals and their positions in the Competition has a bearing on deciding the Champion Club or issues relating to qualification for other competitions, then the Management Committee shall decide how the Champion Club of the Competition shall be decided. This may require the Clubs concerned playing a play off deciding Match or Matches on a neutral ground. In all other cases the Clubs concerned will be deemed to have finished in equal positions. The Management Committee shall determine the format, timing, venues of, and all other rules relating to any playoff Match or Matches.

Tie breaker in case of points being equal is goal difference as usual in England. Nothing unusual here.

The following promotion and relegation shall be applied:

At the end of the Matches for each Season, the last placed Club in FA WSL1 shall be relegated to FA WSL 2 and replaced by the Champion Club of FA WSL2, provided that such Champion Club meets all criteria for admission to FA WSL 1 (including facility, finance, corporate governance, staffing and other business and management criteria) as has been notified to Clubs prior to the start of the playing season (the “Minimum Criteria”). In the event that the Champion Club is not able to meet such criteria within a timeframe prescribed by The Football Association following the end of the Season, the second finishing team in FA WSL 2 shall be promoted to FA WSL 1, subject to it meeting such Minimum Criteria within the relevant timeframe. In the event that the second finishing team is also unable to meet the Minimum Criteria, the last placed Club in FA WSL 1 shall remain in FA WSL1.

Should the fixture programme for FA WSL One or FA WSL 2 not be completed by the end of a Season, the Management Committee shall be empowered to decide all matters of promotion and relegation as deemed appropriate.

A very interesting point here that refers to the usual licensing criteria. As per the usual WSL criteria, money and marketing is more important than football result.  Teams have to win the WSL 2 to get a chance of promotion but need to fulfil the WSL 1 criteria. The runner-up also get a chance if the winner does not have enough money/marketing/ whatever is required…So the bottom team of WSL 1 has a slight chance of staying up if the WSL 2 teams are not strong enough in the commercial department. Make what you want of this…

Upon receiving a requisition signed by two thirds of the Clubs in Membership the League Secretary shall call a Special General Meeting.

The Management Committee may call a Special General Meeting at any time.

At least 14 days’ notice shall be given of either meeting under this Rule, together with an agenda of the business to be transacted at such meeting.

Each Full Member Club shall be empowered to send two delegates to all Special General Meetings. Each Club shall be entitled to one vote only.

No individual shall be entitled to vote on behalf of more than one Club.

50% or more of the delegates entitled to vote at the Special General Meeting shall constitute a quorum.  Any continuing Member Club failing to be represented at a Special General Meeting without satisfactory reason being given shall be fined £250.

An SGM could happen should the FA annoy the clubs has it has done with the FA WPL club recently.

The Cup shall be called ‘The FA WSL Continental Cup

The first round of the Competition shall be played in a group format. Subsequent rounds will be played on a ‘knock-out’ basis.

The Group Stage will consist of three groups of six teams selected on a regional basis to play each other once.

The teams finishing winners of the Group Stage plus one best placed runner-up (based on and in the order of, the highest number of points, superior goal difference, highest number of goals scored, the results between the two Clubs concerned, drawing of lots) will progress to the Semi Finals.

A draw will take place to determine the compilation of the Semi Final ties

In all knock-out rounds, including the Final, 90 minutes must be played in all matches. If the Teams are level after 90 minutes, an extra 15 minutes each way is to be played. If the scores are level after extra time has been played the tie shall be determined by the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

Bizzare set-up with many games being dead rubber early in the competition because as soon as you loose one game, you are already nearly out of it. Maybe it will be used to give game time to squad members. Note that it is the same set-up as in the FA WSL development cup competition.

Salary Cap Regulations

A Club must ensure that the sum of the Salary Cap Value of all of the contracted players in any Salary Cap Year is no more than the Salary Cap Threshold for that Club.

A Club’s “Salary Cap Threshold” shall be 40 % of the Club’s gross annual operating budget for that Salary Cap Year, as set out in the Club’s 2014 – 2017 FAWSL Club Licence. This figure must be agreed with the FA WSL Business Manager by such date as is notified by The Football Association in each Salary Cap Year.

The salary cap year shall be 1st January until 31st December in each year.

The “Salary Cap Value” of a Player is the total sum of the gross payments and other benefits that are paid or payable by a Club or Accrue (or are deemed to Accrue, in accordance with this Section 5) to, on behalf or in relation to the Player in the relevant Salary Cap Year, in accordance with Rule C of The Rules of the Association, Rule (c) of these Competition Rules and Section 3 above, subject to the remainder of this Section 5 below

5.1.1 Subject to Section 5.1.2 below, the following items are, without limitation, included in the calculation of the Salary Cap Value of a Player:

Gross salary for playing FA WSL League and FA WSL Cup matches (wage, fee, remuneration etc.);

Gross signing on fee or personal payments linked to any transfer;

Gross bonus provisions (appearance, win, year-end etc.) – See Section 5.6 below;

Accommodation provided to the Player (the actual amount of the value in kind benefit to the Player, or the annual sum of £5,000, whichever is lower);

Payments made by the club to Player for promotional, media, endorsement work (image rights); and pension contributions

 

5.1.2 The following items may be excluded in the calculation of the Salary Cap Value of a Player:

Any payment paid to a Player by The Football Association pursuant to any Central Contract or any contract of employment with The FA;

The Gross value of any share of the official prize money paid by The Football Association to the Club as a result of the Club’s performance in The FA WSL competition and/or any share of the official prize money paid by The Football Association to the Club as a result of the Club’s performance in any cup competition;

The Gross value of any bonus payments that may Accrue to the Player during the Salary Cap Year if she wins any Player-of-the-Match or Player-of-the-Season awards in that Salary Cap Year;

FA Cup and UEFA Champions League appearance fees and bonuses

Legitimate and reasonable expenses e.g. travel costs, training kit, club clothing, food and drink whilst a Player is on Club duty;

The annual premium paid by the clubs to insure against the cost of a Player’s medical expenses However, to the extent that the Club also insures against the cost of medical expenses incurred by any member of the Player’s family, partner or other close friends, the premium payable for such cover must be included in the calculation of the Salary Cap Value of that Player Education fees and Payments for another genuine role within the Club performed by the Player separate to the Player’s playing contract, performed on a part time, paid basis; examples could include a part time community-coaching contract, an administration role in the office, lecturing in a university environment.

With links to the 40% gross of the team annual operating budget and with everything that is included in the salary cap , if I take an example of a £500,000 yearly budget which is quite high for the FA WSL, it would mean £200 000 available for wages.

Let’s divide it by 20 players and you have an average of £10 000 a year for each player. Obviously teams are not paying 20 players a wage but it does raise questions.

Let’s say a team pays a player £20 000 a year that’s 10% of the whole team salary cap including everything mentioned in 5.1.1. That is seriously not a lot of money. Especially as accommodation is included. For example let’s say £5 000 is declared as accommodation, the player gets £15,000 for the whole year that’s £1250 gross per month and and around £800 per month after tax.

Conclusion this is not a living wage at the moment, so players need a second job unless they have a central contract or paid at least £30 000 a year all in.

fa wsl 2014

FA WSL Development League cup update

In Group 1 Arsenal have 12 points and going through with a game to play either as group winner or best runner-up. Arsenal are away to Chelsea for the final game. Reading have 9 points and +6 and are away to Millwall.

In Group 2 Liverpool finished with 11 points and 9-2 while Everton will play Durham and have 8 points and 8-3 GD

In Group 3 Aston Villa won it with 11 points. For the best runner-up competition Notts County have 10 points and a GD at 9-5

So definitely through are Aston Villa as group winners  and Arsenal either group winners or best runner-up.

For the final two places:

a) Reading are through if they win against Millwall regardless of the scoreline. And it would mean best runner-up would come from Group 1. Reading are 14-8 on goal scored and Arsenal 16-1. A large Arsenal defeat combined to a large Reading win could see the Royals top Group 1 table. They can also go through with a draw if Everton does not beat Durham

b) Everton will be throughas group winners  if they beat Durham by 2 clear goals or more. If they win by 2 goals, both Merseyside teams will have 11 points and a +7 GD but  with more goals scored by Everton. They can also qualify  if they beat Durham by 1 goal and Reading does not win against Millwall

c) Liverpool will go through as group winners if Everton does not win against Durham or win by only a 1 goal margin. 3rd possibility is  Everton win by 2 or more  while Reading does not win. Liverpool would finish best-runner-up.

d) Notts County will go through as best runner-up if none of the other runner-ups reach 10 points, ( Reading  with 10 points would have  a+6 GD while Notts County has +4) ie if Reading looses and Everton does not win.

Arsenal Ladies International call-up

Early is the usual time for the international tournaments : La Manga
U19&U23, Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup. Here are the Arsenal Ladies players called up for their National Teams

England Senior : Kelly Smith, Siobhan Chamberlain, Jordan Nobbs, Alex Scott

Japan Senior : Kinga, Ohno

Scotland Senior : Emma Mitchell, Christie Murray

Ireland Senior : Emma Byrne, Niamh Fahey

England U23 : Bianca Bragg, Freda Ayisi, Danielle Carter

Scotland U19 : Caroline Weir

England U19 : Leah Williamson, Vyan Sampson, Jade Bailey