Arsenal Ladies : an interesting statistic regarding the squad size

Back in March 2013 at the start of the previous 2013 season, I wrote an article about the Arsenal Ladies and how the future was shaping up and looking good with the view on the 1st team, reserves and the best U17 players :

https://mywomensfootball.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/arsenal-ladies-looking-into-the-future/

The conclusion of this article is a funny one and how wrong was I  “So by the end of the season 2013, I believe the club will need to sign 2 defenders and at least 1 midfield player” . I had listed 45 players over those 3 squads and 29 of those are now gone.

That’s a huge turnover when 64% of those girls have left the club in 15 months.  There were many reasons for those departures as it has been well documented for the 1st team players why they left, but the number of reserves and U17 players who made their way out of the club has just caused big problems in term of players quality and quantity available. You cannot loose so many 1st team players and also promising youngsters at reserves and U17 level without encountering a few problems.

First team players have been replaced with players from all the over the world and England some  had an impact  during the first half of this season. Young reserves players have been quickly promoted to the first team as well.

If we have a look at the current reserves team aka development team, many U17 players have been added to the squad and 3 players have been signed to make up the numbers and have a big enough squad to finish the season.

There is certainly an urgent need to add more quality players at every level as soon as possible.

 

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Arsenal Ladies development team season 2013/14 review

It has been a very succesful season for the development team previously known as reserves team. The team’s name changed with the creation of the FA WSLDevelopment  league  played in the winter season unlike the 1st team’s season. The transitory nature of the team explains why 35 players have been used this season in the development team.

League results : Champions in the Southern division PL 16 W 13 D 1 L2 40 Points and a +46 goal difference with 2 games to spare.

Development League cup results : will play in the final on Saturday the 31st of May against Liverpool Ladies at Sutton Coldfield 2pm kick off

In the group stage, the girls played in Group 1, they won the group with 12 points, one game was not played PL 4 W4 GD +1

In the semi-final they beat Everton Ladies by 5 goals to 2

The FA has introduced special rules for the development league ie no more than 3 players older than 19 that have played more than 9 first team games were allowed to take part in a development game. This failed to prevent teams that were previously in the FA WPL to field their first team at times, or play newly signed players from abroad or those coming back from injuries ( fair enough for those players ).

All the data is collected from the FA Full time website, I have therefore split the review in different  categories :

Current reserves player

Bianca Bragg  MF 17 games 7 goals the typical playmaker who has been at Arsenal for years and came through the ranks

Adekete Fatuga FW 10 games  a pacy forward

Asia Harbour-Brown DF 10 games a full back  that can play on the wing or sometimes up front

Carla Humphrey FW 20 games 22 goals a creative playmaker who has been mainly played on the wing and scored many goals

Taome Oliver MF 21 games 6 goals a dynamic midfielder very similar to Rosicky who has also been played in various attacking positions during the season

Leigh-Anne Robe DF 20 games 1 goal, a veteran in the reserves team she can play at full back or center back

Megan Ryan DF 20 games 1 goal a tall ball playing center back who has been mainly used as a defensive midfield player this season

Vyan Sampson DF 20 games a strong and tall center back

Frances Steele MF 20 games 4 goals a quick and dynamic  central midfield player who can also play in defense if required

Players from the U17  team promoted during the season

Evie Clarke FW 6 games 6 goals a winger with pace

Philippa Cowley DF 6 games plays at left back

Chloe Kelly FW 3 games 3 goals plays up front

Abigail Mills FW 4 games plays on the right wing

Emma Slater 1 game

Alysha Stojko-Down DF 4 games plays at left back

Courtney Ward Chambers 1 game unused

Players transferred in during the season

Chelsea Coles GK came from Watford/QPR 12 games

Alice Hassall FW comes from MK Dons CoE 2 games

Chloe Morgan GK 1 game

Players that left the Arsenal during the season

Molly Bartrip DF 12 games and 3 goals, plays for Reading in WSL 2

Zoe Cunningham MF 1 game unused sub plays for Reading in WSL 2

Rebecca Danbridge MF 2 games plays for Reading in WSL 2

Amber Gaylor FW 11 games plays for London Bees in WSL 2

Sophie Harris GK 3 games plays for London Bees in WSL 2

Leigh Nicol MF 2 games unused plays for Reading in WSL 2

Cherie Rowlands GK 1 game plays for London Bees in WSL 2

 First team players

Freda Ayisi FW 9 games 7 goals

Jade Bailey MF 10 games

Emma Byrne GK 1 game

Niamh Fahey DF 1 game

Anouk Hoogendjik DF 1 game

Emma Mitchell DF 1 game

Christie Murray MF 2 games

Caroline Weir 12 games 15 goals

Leah Williamson 9 games 4 goals

 

 

FA WSL 2 Match day 5 results and table

Aston Villa 2 Millwall Lionesses 0

London Bees 0 Durham 1

Oxford United 2 Reading Women 2

Watford Ladies 2 Sunderland Ladies 4

Yeovil Town 1 Doncaster Belles 2

 

Doncaster and Sunderland carry on their 100% record with 5 wins in 5m they remain the only unbeaten team in the League.

First defeat to Millwall at Aston Villa. First wins for Durham at London Bees and for Villa at home to Millwall. First point for Oxford United against Reading.

Reading promotion challenge is very much in doubt as they now trail the two leaders by 8 points.

Table

1. Doncaster Belles 15 pts GD +11

———————————————–

2. Sunderland Ladies 15 pts GD +9

3. Millwall Lionesses 8 pts GD +3

4.  Reading Women 7 pts GD +3

5. Yeovil 7 pts GD +0

6. Watford Ladies 5 pts GD -3

7. Aston Villa 5 pts GD -3

8. London Bees 4 pts GD -2

9. Durham Women 3 pts GD -9

10. Oxford United  1 pt GD -9

 

Arsenal Ladies, chronique d’un échec inattendu

Comme le disait si bien Reynald Denoueix. « Un joueur a un prix, un autre joueur a un prix, mais la relation entre deux joueurs n’a pas de prix. »  Je pense qu’il ne faut pas chercher midi à quatorze heures pour trouver les raisons des problèmes actuels  des Arsenal Ladies.

Une simple lecture de l’effectif du moment  en comparaison de l’effectif des années précédentes permet de comprendre les difficultés au niveau du jeu des Gunners. On peut  noter un effectif déséquilibré à certains postes avec aucune ailière droit de métier alors que d’autres postes sont triples ou quadruples. La saignée de l’intersaison et le remplacement par des joueuses de qualités très hétérogènes est l’une des raisons principales de l’échec cette saison de Shelley Kerr.

Alors qu’en 2013 son impact a son arrivée au club avait été très limitée Arrivées de Rebecca Spencer, départs de Julie Fleeting, Hayley Ladd et Kirsty Linnett., Elle a commencé à mettre son imprimatur lors de la 1ere partie de saison avec l’exclusion du club de la capitaine déchue Jayne Ludlow, suivi des départs lors du mercato d’été de Jennifer Beattie à Montpellier et Rebecca Spencer à Birmingham. Au niveau des arrivées, Emma Mitchell et Caroline Weir 2 joueuses Ecossaises sont venues compléter l’effectif ainsi que Cherie Rowlands venue en prêt pour dépanner dans les buts.

Il n’y a aucun doute que le club devait reconstruire et préparer l’avenir puisque certaines joueuses étaient en fin de carrière et donc devait être remplacées. La logique aurait voulu que ces quelques joueuses quittent l’équipe, que les meilleures jeunes de la réserve et des U17 soient intégrées et que des signatures soient enregistrées tout en gardant l’ossature du groupe en particulier les joueuses de 20 à 30 ans. Apres tout, une équipe qui gagne les 2 coupes domestique et fini 3eme du championnat, et aurait dû finir 2eme sans le retrait de 3 points pour une erreur administrative, ne devait pas être si mauvaise que cela ? Et à la surprise générale, le mercato d’hiver a été très très mouvementé :

Départs de Lauren Bruton, Kim Little Stephanie Houghton, Gemma Davison, Ellen White, Katie Chapman, Gilly Flaherty, Sophie Harris, Cherie Rowlands Ciara Grant, Yvonne Tracy , Comme prévu les joueuses les plus anciennes ont cédé la place, mais également les joueuses dans la force de l’âge et celles qui allaient arriver à maturité dans les 2 ou 3 saisons à venir.

On est donc passe d’une saison de transition avec intégration en douceur de nouvelles joueuses à une saison de reconstruction complète. Les joueuses suivantes sont arrivées Siobhan Chamberlain, Casey Stoney, Anouk Hoogendijk, Christie Murray, Yukari Kinga Shinobu Ohno, sans oublier les jeunes montées de la réserve Freda Ayisi, Jade Bailey et la capitaine des U17 anglaises Leah Williamson. Et le retour de deux blessées Kelly Smith et Niamh Fahey.

Sans aucun doute reconstruire une équipe à 60% prend du temps. Le plus frappant lors de cette saison était la difficulté à créer du jeu. Pas de fausses pistes, appels, contre appels, la coordination entre joueuses très incertaine car elles apprenaient à jouer ensemble. Cette équipe d’Arsenal avait créé des liens entre joueuses qui étaient la depuis, 3,5 10 ou 12 ans dans le club. Ces liens étaient comme des liaisons covalentes pour les atomes. Ils formaient le socle du jeu de l’équipe. Il y avait un circuit préférentiel simple et défini qui utilisait l’axe et les 2 ailes en alternance. A la place de ce système bien organise, on a eu droit particulièrement en début de saison a une bouillie de jeu, une sorte de purée avec des joueuses sans repères qui ne se trouvent pas sur le terrain. Des joueuses qui ne jouent pas à leur place de prédilection puisque certains postes sont déjà occupés par des titulaires indiscutables. On se retrouve avec des joueuses baladées de poste en poste avec des niveaux de performance individuelles très moyennes voire faible, et des cadres absent pour blessure (Nobbs) ou esseulées (Smith, Scott, Byrne, Yankey) pour relancer la machine. Quant aux nouvelles joueuses arrivant de l’étranger, le temps d’adaptation normal quand on arrive dans un nouveau championnat n’a pas été facilité par cette reconstruction d’équipe.

Tous ces paramètres mis bout à bouts expliquent la descente aux enfers et le début de championnat rate par les Gunners avec 1 point récolte en 4 matchs et une série en cours de 4 défaites consécutives sans marquer un seul but. Seul le parcours en FA Cup a échappé au naufrage avec des victoires contre une D3 Gillingham et 2 victoires à l’extérieur contre Birmingham et Chelsea (5-3 après prolongation).

La pression des supporters commençait à se faire sentir sur les réseaux sociaux et au stade, mais avec la trêve approchant et 10 matchs de championnat à jouer sur 14, il n’y avait pas de grande urgence à partir pour le coach. En particulier si les joueuses adhéraient toujours à son projet ce qui semble être le cas.

Un recrutement qualitatif de qualité de 2 joueuses à certains postes comme arrière centrale et ailière droit aurait permis de relancer la machine et de finir ce projet de reconstruction lancé par Shelley Kerr. Sa démission laisse le club a la croisée des chemins et avec un choix important à faire pour le management : promotion interne pour faire dans la continuité ou arrivée extérieure d’un(e) coach qui reconstruira sur la reconstruction ?

FA WSL Match Day 4 results and table

Man City 2 Everton 0

Liverpool 1  Birmingham 1

Chelsea 0 Notts County 0

Arsenal 0  Bristol 2

Table as of 25rd of May

1. Birmingham 8 pts
2. Bristol 7 pts
————————-
3. Notts County 6 pts
4. Liverpool 6 pts
5. Man City 6 pts
6. Chelsea 5 pts
7. Everton 2 pts
———————
8. Arsenal 1 pt

We are at the mid-season break with 4 games out of 14 played and the table is looking a bit unusual. Anyone who would have predicted that table is a genius. Birmingham top, Bristol carrying on their excellent job from last season. Everton and Arsenal competing to avoid relegation.

 

FA WSL 1 Matchday 21st May results and table

Arsenal 0 Birmingham 2
Arsenal loosing streak reaches 3 in a row while Birmingham are now top of the League.

Man City 2 Everton 0
City now 2nd and in the Champions League places after beating Everton who are still looking for their first win.

Arsenal and Everton will need to start picking up points quickly if they don’t want to get sucked into the relegation battle soon.

1. Birmingham 7 pts
2. Man City 6 pts
———————
3. Notts County 5 pts
4. Liverpool 5 pts
5. Chelsea 4 pts
6. Bristol 4 pts
7. Everton 2 pts
———————
8. Arsenal 1 pt

 

 

FA WSL 1 Wed 21st May game preview

Match Day 4

Manchester City v Everton

For the last game before the summer break, both teams really need the 3 points to get away from the relegation zone. Everton are currently looking for their 1st win with 2 points in 3 while City got it on Sunday away at Arsenal to climb 2 places up the table in 6th position. City are the form team and also have already beaten Everton this season in the Conti Cup.

Match Day 2

Arsenal v Birmingham

This game was postponed due to Champions League involvement. Again, the FA would never schedule a game on a Tuesday or a Wednesday when men’s Champions League tie are played. They are actually forbidden by UEFA to do so as we heard this season when a team complained about playing on Monday due to those rules.

It is already a huge game because Blues would be top of League should they win that game or would climb up to 2nd place in case of a draw. They are on a high following their win over title contenders Chelsea on Sunday.
Arsenal also need a win to kickstart their season because they are currently bottom of the table and this is an unacceptable position to be in for a club of Arsenal’s stature. A win would take them up to 3rd place depending on the number of goals scored for and against. A draw or a defeat would certainly be a clear indication that Arsenal could be dragged into the relegation battle for their first time ever.

London Bees dev v Arsenal Ladies dev

Arsenal Ladies development team have taken a huge step towards winning the League ( Southern Division). They won 2-0 away at London Bees with a brace from Evie Clarke. They are in the lead with 37 points and a +45 goal difference. Their final game will be on Sunday at Millwall. The Lionesses have 28 points a +18 goal difference and will play Arsenal at home, Chelsea away and Reading away.

Arsenal Ladies development therefore need a point on Sunday or should they loose, hope that Chelsea or Reading take points from the Lionesses or that the Lionesses don’t catch up on the goal difference.

The girls will also play the FA WSL Development League Cup final on Saturday the 31st of May at Sutton Coldfield against Liverpool Ladies development team. Their players got a few first team outing recently due to the unusual amount of injuries to their first team players.

Tonight’s team was :

Chelsea Coles, Leigh-anne Robe Vyan Sampson Meg Ryan Phillpa Cowley, Frances Steele Taome Oliver Carla Humphrey, Alice Hassall Evie Clarke Bianca Bragg

Sub used : Abigail Mills, Alysha Stojko-Down

Evie scored her first goal from a long ball that went past Bees center back for a one on one finish. Her second ball came from the quick free kick on the edge of the area played by Bianca and she hit the ball in the top left corner.

Overall a competitive and entertaining game for the girls and much better performance than 2 weeks ago when they lost at home to the Bees.

FA WSL Division 2 Season 2014 statistics

Updated 25 May 2014 (booking stats uncertain)

 

Goalscorers :

1. Fran Kirby ( Reading) 8

2. Bethany Mead ( Sunderland ) 6

3.  Stacey Pearson (Yeovil ), Lillie Billson (Millwall), Joanne Wilson  ( Watford) 3

6.  Lauren Cresswell ( Doncaster ), Caroline Dixon ( Durham), Victoria Greenwell, Abbey Joice, Rachel Furness  ( Sunderland), Amber Gaylor, Paige Wakefield ( London Bees),  Sue Smith , Bethany England, Jess Sigsworth Millie Bright, Leandra Little (Doncaster), Lois Roche, Lauren Bruton ( Reading), Natasha Baptiste ( Aston Villa)  2

20. Lucy Loomes, Billie Brooks, ( London Bees), Cheryl Williams ( Reading)  Lily Agg, Naomi Cole, Emma Whitter, Sophie Perry, Dionne Lennon, Cherelle Albert, Emma Plewa (Millwall), Sarah Wiltshire, Kate Natkiel, Megan Wynne, Renee Hector (Watford) Ashleigh Mills, Reanne Thomas, Rhiannon Roberts  (Doncaster), Zoe Ness (Durham),  Gemma Wilson, Keira Ramshaw, Kelly McDougall ( Sunderland), Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Kayleigh Hines, Lauren Allison ( Oxford), Katie Cook , Paige Stewart, Jemma Tewkesbury, Kirsty Whitton (Yeovil) Yasmine Hardy, Jessica Round(Durham), Beth Merrick, Jade Richards,( Aston Villa)  1

OG :

Booking : Lily Agg, Kylie Davies ( Millwall) , Sherry McCue, Katy Moran, Olivia Ferguson ( Aston Villa), Sue Smith (Doncaster), Jessica Round, Zoe Ness (Durham) , Sahara Osborne-Ricketts (Oxford), Billie Brooks ( Bees), Cherelle Albert( Millwall), Kelly Chambers ( Reading), Paige Stewart ( Yeovil)

Red Card : Lillie Billson ( Millwall)

Goals per game : 3.45  ( 69 in 20)

Yeovil Town v Aston Villa

So today was my first visit to Yeovil’s ground at Sherbone. I set off from home in Ealing early to go Earl’s Court and pick up, l’Equipe and France Football before getting on the train to Basingstoke where I met Patrick and off we went to Sherbone.

Being French my English geography knowledge is very limited. I actually had no clue how far Sherborne was. So we went on the M3 then the A303 and ended up in a massive traffic jam near Stonehenge. You do wonder why they have a double lane merging in that single lane in a very busy area. We probably got stuck about half an hour on a small section before finally moving forward.

We arrived at the ground which is situated on top of a hill. It is not far from the train station but quite a climb actually, very good for fitness work. What I find nice with Yeovil is they are very good on and off the pitch. A lot of work is done to make it a very pleasant day out for the fans.

We made our way to the club shop at the entrance, had a look at the replica shirts available then went to the bar where we were greated by Yeovil Town’s Chairman David Mills. We went to the main room and met more people from the club and someone from the FA who was scouting a couple of Yeovil players. Quite interesting to hear him and his views on players and what they are looking for. After a few drinks and biscuits we went to the pitch to watch the game.

The first thing you see is that there is a little slope that leads you to believe that there is a certain advantage to be used. Funnily enough, it did not happen and the team playing uphill played better in both halves. What I also noticed is the grass was cut high but it did not seem to impact much on the players.

So it was really a game of two halves, the 1st half was dominated by Yeovil. They were very good in possession, created many chances from open and set pieces but managed to be 1-0 up only at half time which proved to be costly. We went to back to the half time tea, sandwiches etc and arrived late for the 2nd half and Aston Villa had already scored. I shouldn’t have eaten my prawn sandwich lol

The second half was all Aston Villa, I guess fatigue hit the Yeovil girls who played on Thursday night a tough game at Bristol and came back with an excellent 0-0 draw. Villa were well on top and created many chances but could only manage one goal overall.

The game ended with a 1-1 draw which was a fair result for both teams.
We went back for another tea and biscuit sessions before going to the lounge where you can come and discuss the game with all the Yeovil players who are available for a chat after the game as part of the “fans bill of right” implemented by Yeovil.

This is a great initiative and I certainly made the most of it by having a quick chat with the manager Sarah Lawler. I am always interested to hear some managers views on the game in general and what they try to achieve.

I am lucky enough to get press passes at certain games U19& U17 Euros, Champions League etc and being able to ask questions and get interesting answers.

So I have to mention here that I really enjoy watching Yeovil Town LFC play. As far as I am concern they play the most attractive football in England ( women’s football of course) . I am lucky or crazy enough to watch around 70 to 80 games per year and I have to say, I really like the Glovers football philosophy.

They remind me of the men’s team I support in France which is FC Nantes in Brittany ( nicknamed the Canaries like Norwich). We were lucky at Nantes to have great coaches like Jose Arribas, Coco Suaudeau and Reynald Denoueix ( check them on wikipedia) and also check youtube for Nantes 94-95, Loko v PSG or Jose Toure v PSG coupe de France to see some of the football we used to see.

We all have an idea on how football should be played, some like teams to get stuck in, some like them to park the bus, some like direct football etc.
Being French I have been raised with the idea of romantic attacking football by the team that reached the 1982 and 1986 world cup semi-final.

The same attacking philosophy and intentions have always been part of the game at Nantes ” jeu a la nantaise” and I certainly believe that it is the right way to play football.

It means having a pass and move game, having quick ball circulation, offering solutions to the ball holders, always being on the move.

Being creative and have a team that works as a unit to make efficient and beautiful football. Playing that way is quite tiring actually and it certainly brought reward in the 1st half and when the energy level went down to tiredness, the whole machine seem to slow down. To me it explains the difficult second half where passing went a bit ashtray and there were no solutions for the ball holder.

At the recent Reading v Yeovil game played at the Madjeski, I had a great view at the top of the stand on the halfway line. Alhtough the game ended with a Reading win and it confirmed what I had seen in previous Yeovil games about the great passing philosophy in the team.

So full credit to the girls and the coaching staff, it makes very enjoyable viewing for me and I will certainly come back to Sherborne.