Arsenal Ladies game by game review Part 1

Game attended *

1. Birmingham A UEFA WCL 0-1*
A step into the unknown for the Arsenal Ladies as Shelley Kerr rightly decided to phase out the old guards at Arsenal during the winter window. Players in the 20-28 years old age bracket decided to leave for many reasons and were replaced by foreign players mainly. As a result, there was clear view that the team had not gelled yet and it was a deserved 1-0 defeat. All to play for in the 2nd leg though as the Remi Allen goal was the only thing separating the two sides.

2. Birmingham H UEFA WCL 0-2*

The game was an improvement from the away game but it was not enough sadly. Birmingham knew they would be in good position, if they scored a goal as Arsenal would then need to score 3 goals. Arsenal started well, had a few chances but got caught when Kirsty Linnett ran round Yukari Kinga and scored. It became a moutain too high to clim and when Remi Allen scored a second goal it was game over. A really bad season start for the Arsenal and an indication of the future struggles in the first part of the season.

3. Gillingham H FA Women’s Cup 2-0

First win for 2014 in the FA Cup with a Kelly Smith brace against a 3rd division side.

4. Notts County A FA WSL 1-1

A good result away to Notts who moved away their franchise from Lincoln during the winter. Football quality improved from the previous games and it was a well deserved point in a tough away games against the League best defense. First point in the League. No one knew it at the time but it would be the only point scored by Shelley Kerr in the 2014 FA WSL season. Alex Scott the goalscorer.

5. Watford Ladies H Conti Cup 3-0

Another good result this time against an FA WSL2 side. Goals by Alex Scott, Shinobu Ohno and Freda Ayisi.

6. Birmingham A FA Women’s Cup 2-1*

Revenge in the FA Cup for the Arsenal girls. Remi Allen gave the lead to Birmingham before a very controversial call by the refree gave the Gunners a penaly and a lifeline. Kelly Smith scored the penalty and Freda Ayisi added a second from a superb Danielle Carter pass to send the girls through to the next round.

7. Chelsea N FA Women’s Cup  5-3 aet*

Kelly Smith came to the rescue twice to save the day and take the team to extra time. She also missed a first half penalty. Chelsea took the lead twice and were pegged back by Smith who managed to equalise quickly for after both goals. Extra time goal by Carter, Ohno and Stoney won the game for the Gunners. A brilliant and entertaining game.

8. Reading A Conti Cup 0-2*

To me, this game is the symbol of the 2014 failure half season under Shelley Kerr. It was the beginning of the end with the first of the 4 consecutive defeats that led to her resignation. Arsenal Ladies had never lost against a lower division team in a big cup game ( FA Cup, Premier League Cup or Conti Cup). The scene was all set up for a big upset. A Kerr v Ludlow battle. About a year earlier Ludlow was removed from the club by Kerr and she ended up moving to manage Reading and bring a certain number of Arsenal players with her.   The Arsenal coaching knew about the Reading tactics as they had just played Chelsea and drew 1-1 with a game plan as followed 4-5-1 with Kirby getting on the break to catch the defenders as she is lighting quick.

The pitch was not very good on the day and did not help a ball possession game, still it was tactical suicide on the day :  a pairing at center back with Hoogendjik Stoney and Kinga in front of them. Those 3 players against Kirby while Williamson was shuffled to full back. Put it this way. Would you put 2 Mertesacker type player defeding on a Thierry Henry type center forward ? no you have a Koscielny who is quick enough to deal with pace and complement Mertesacker. As we had seen against Birmingham in the Champions League Kinga struggles against pace on the turn and it happened again with Kirby running round her and none of the center back quick enough to catch her. Williamson was deployed in the central area in the 2nd half but it was too late the damage was done.

9. Man City H FA WSL 0-1*

Manchester City were on a bad run when they visited Borehamwood, bottom of the table and in the relegation place with 0 point in 2. For the 2nd League game of the campaign, the team went down to a Duggan goal and did not manage to find an equaliser despite trying very hard. 2 League games and 1 point to show for was a bad start.

10. Birmingham H FA WSL 0-2*

The game was originally planned earlier in the season but was postponed due to the Champions League tie against … Birmingham. Arsenal Ladiesstarted the game at the bottom of the table and they duly kept that position after the game while Birmingham went top of the League. Former Gunner Kirsty Linnett scored a brace and condemn the Ladies to a third goalless defeat in a row.  1 point in 3 League the games, the pressure on the manager was slowly building and unrest in the stand with unhappy fans became louder and louder.

11. Bristol H FA WSL 0-2

Another game and another goalless defeat for Shelley Kerr. Goals from Sophie Ingle and Natalia Sanchon made the start of the season turn from bad to worse. Bottom of the table, 1 point in 4 games. Relegation looming large at the half-way break ( 4 games out of 14 lol) . Something was broken and the engine was clearly malfunctionning. Shelley Kerr therefore resigned after the game. A decent and honest decision from the manager.

12. Everton N FA Women’s Cup final 2-0*

Shelley Kerr last game in game saw the Gunners destroy Everton 2-0.  It was a one way traffic for the Gunners against a young Everton team. Goals from Kelly Smith and Yukari Kinga  gave the manager an 100% record in finals with 2 FA Cup and 1 Conti Cup won. Great attacking and passing football played.  You did wonder why this did not happen in the previous 4 games where the players played with a handbrake.

 

The team reached the half-way point in the season with a mixed bag of results. Dissapointment in the Champions League, League and Conti Cup while there was success in the FA Cup.  The winter transfer window was badly managed with too many important players being shipped or gone away and not replaced appropriately. No team should play a full season without a genuine right winger. Although genuine quality in Kinga, Ohno and Hoogendjik was brought in, they were not given the right environnement to settle in and show their worth. Hoogendjik subsequently returned to Ajax without a proper chance to display her qualities.

France WNT the road to Canada WC 2015 : players’ statistics

2015 World Cup qualifiers group 7

Bulgaria H 14-0

Bulgaria A 10-0

Austria A 3-1

Kazakstan A 4-0

Hungary H 4-0

Austria H 3-1

Kazakstan H 7-0

Hungary A 4 -0

Finland A 2-0

Finland H 3-1

 

W10 GF 54 GA 3, France qualify for the World Cup with a near perfect record having conceded 3 goals in the process.

 

Friendlies

Czech Republik H 2-0

Poland H 6-0

Sweden H 3-0

Scotland N 1-1

Australia N  3-2

Netherlands N 3-0

England N 2-0

Brazil H 0-0

USA A 0-1

USA A 2-2

 

Coach Bergeroo has decided to play friendlies against  top quality teams in order to prepare properly for the WC tournament.

The record against top 6 teams ( USA, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Brazil) is W1 D2 L1 GF 5 GA 3

The record against below top 6 teams is W5 D1 GF 17 GA 3

 

Players stats since Phillipe  Bergeroo took over from Bruno Bini :

Bergeroo has managed 20 games overall over the Sep 13 – Sep 14 period

 

There are 16 core players who are more or less guaranteed to go to the World Cup if they don’t get a long term injury in the next year :

Louisa Necib 18+2

Wendie Renard 16+1

Jessica Houara 16+1

Sarah Bouhaddi 16

Gaetane Thiney 15+5

Elodie Thomis 15+1

Amandine Henry 14+2

Laura Georges 14+1

Elise Bussaglia 13+7

Eugenie Le Sommer 13+3

Sabrina Delannoy 13

Camille Abily 12+5

Marie-Laure Delie 12+5

Laure Boulleau 8+1

Celine Deville 4

Griedge M’Bock Bathy 3+3 *

 

There are 5 back-ups who are regularly called up and are likely to be on the plane to Canada providing they keep their club form :

Marina Makanza 2+8

Kheira Hamraoui 2+7

Amel Majri 2+1

Laetitia Tonazzi 1+7

Anaig  Butel 1+1

 

The fringe players :

Julie Soyer 2

Kenza Dali 2+1

Marine Dafeur 1

Camille Catala +2

Sandie Toletti*  +2

Aurelie Kaci +1

Rose Lavaud + 1

Viviane Asseyi 1+5

 

 

A player that has been more or less put to international retirement by the coach ( not called up since the Cyprus Cup)

Corinne Petit 4

 

A few players have been called up but not capped during those 20 games :

Karima Benameur (GK), Pauline Crammer, Ines Jaurena,  Meline Gerard (gk) and Laetitia Phillipe (GK)

 

*Griedge M’Bock Bathy and  Sandie Toletti were preparing for the U20 WC so missed a lot of call ups from January to July 14

 

Update October :  new players called up for the Germany friendly : Claire Lavogez, Kadidiatou Diani and  Amandine Guerin** ( GK)

**Guerin was called up against Finland but withdrew due to injury

Phillipe Bergeroo on France WNT newbies ( Lavogez, Diani, Guérin)

This is an extract from the France WNT manager’s interview from l’équipe website

http://www.lequipe.fr/Football/Actualites/Bergeroo-un-match-de-coupe-du-monde/508758

What is the current squad state ?

We are missing 3 injured players : Laure Boulleau,  Kenza Dali and  Marie Laure Delie. The latter will be out for a longer time than the other two. This gives us a chance to me to call up players that I have been supervising for a while now Claire Lavogez,  Kadidiatou Diani and Amandine Guerin. They have 9 months to show me that they deserve a place at the World Cup in Canada.

Will you play those youngsters against Germany ?

I am not going to burn them out. If there is a possibility I will put them in. What is certain is I will put them step by step in like I did for Sandie Toletti and Griedge M’Bock . I will rotate the team against New Zealand next month.

FA WSL Matchday 14 : small margins make big differences in the end

The FA WSL 1 2014 season finished with a bang. 3 teams still in it on final day, Liverpool winning it on goal difference over Chelsea, while Birmingham end up a  point behind those 2 sides.

I don’t think it has been pointed enough that the City player that injured Marie Hourihan had a  big influence on where the trophy landed in the end. As usual goalies are not protected and charging the Chelsea goalie ended in a  substitution and a less experienced  goalkeeper entering the pitch. Title are won or lost with small margins and I certainly think the game would have turned differently with Hourihan in goal. I do wonder why the contact that led to the injury was not punished. It certainly was a huge setback for Chelsea. We know what happened next : a first goal that could have been saved, a second goal due to bad marking and Chelsea were up against it. They had enough time to come back  ( including playing against 10 players for 15 minutes)  though and ended up short by one goal.

Small margins also cost Birmingham who ended up also short by one goal and finished the season empty handed with no Champions League to show for their effort. It is obvious that the U20 mid season break destroyed their momentum. They were unbeaten in the League before the second monthly long break for the 2014 season ( I won’t come back on the absurdity of having 2 one month mid season breaks in a season with 14 League games) and ended up LLWDLWD after the break. That is a half season with 8 points while the first half  brought 17 points. Birmingham did not have enough on final day as well, going 2-0 down like Chelsea did. They got a goal back and got a chance to level with Carney’s penalty but a Telford double save prevented the equaliser to happen. Keryakoplis did equalise and Birmingham tried for 40 minutes to find a winner to no avail.

In the end Liverpool did the job with a 3-0 win over Bristol. Not the most surprising result. Both side played midweek Champions League with Liverpool playing a day early and at home while Bristol had a short away trip to Ireland. As Liverpool had an extra day rest and also are professional while Bristol are semi-professional, there is no surprise the Vixens ran out of gas. There are benefits and reward for full time training and rightly so.

Talking of small margins, let’s go back to the 21st of September and the Birmingham v Liverpool game. As we know the referee made a technical error that the FA did not rectify, therefore adding 2 points to Liverpool’s total and removing 1 point from Birmingham’s total. We know that the refereeing standard has been poor to awful for most of the teams and the whole season, so it safe to say teams are likely to have been  all treated unfairly by some decisions, but as those are factual decisions they cannot be rectified unlike the Birmingham v Liverpool incident. I certainly believe the competition integrity has not been preserved and it is a sad state of the game when thing like this can happen.

 

FA WSL Development League Cup 2014/15

After 2 games played out of 5

Group 1

1. Millwall 6
2. Arsenal 6
3. Chelsea 3
4. Reading 3
5. London Bees 0
6. Watford 0

Group 2

1. Liverpool 6
2. Sunderland 6
3. Durham 3
4. Man City 3
5. Everton  0
6. Doncaster Belles 0

Group 3

1. Birmingham 6
2. Yeovil 3
3. Bristol 3
4. Notts County 3
5. Oxford 3
6. Aston Villa 0

Reminder from  last season tournament :

Arsenal qualified with 12, Everton with 11, Villa with 11 and Liverpool as best runner-up with 11.

And in the Conti Cup 2014

Chelsea qualified with 12, Man City with 12, Notts County with 13 pts and Arsenal as best runner-up with 12.

Unless something very strange happens London Bees, Watford, Everton and Doncaster are already out of the competition.Too many dead rubbers to be played.

FA WSL matchday 14 permutations

Here are the different scenarii that can happen tomorrow

To win the League : 

3. Liverpool 23 pts 16 -10 Home to Bristol

They need a win and would reach 26 pts, they would also need Chelsea loses at City ( both teams would have 26 pts and Liverpool are 2 goals behind on goal difference ) and Birmingham  not to beat  Notts County.

2. Birmingham 24 pts 18-12 Home to Notts County

They need a win and would reach 27 pts

a) Should Chelsea loose they would be champions

b) Should Chelsea draw both teams would reach 27 pts, Chelsea would have a +8 goal difference, therefore Birmingham would need to win by 3 goals.

1. Chelsea 26 pts 22-14 Away to Manchester City

Win : champions

Draw : champions if Birmingham beat Notts by 2 goals or less or does not beat Notts

Loose : champions if Birmingham draw or loose and if  Liverpool win, they  do not catch up on the +2 current goal difference

 

To qualify for the Champions League

3. Liverpool 23 pts 16 -10 Home to Bristol

1. Win &

a) Birmingham do not win

b) Birmingham win and Chelsea lose and they catch up on the 2 goals on GD

2. Draw & Birmingham loose

 

2. Birmingham 24 pts 18-12 Home to Notts Conty

1. Win

2.  Draw & Liverpool do not win

3. Loose & Liverpool loose

 

1. Chelsea 26 pts 22-14 Away to Manchester City

1. Win

2. Draw

3. Loose &

a) Birmingham do not win

b) Birmingham win and Liverpool win but do not catch up on goal difference

c) Birmingham win and Liverpool do not win

FA WSL Conti Cup final to be played on 16th of October

So the final will be played on a Thursday evening at Wycombe Wanders FC. Anyone who has been there knows how difficult it is to park over there and even worse to get there by public transport.

Arsenal fans are lucky as the final is quite close to London but the for the Manchester City fans it is certainly a long trip. As the game is shown live on BT Sport, it is certainly not an incentive to put bums on seat. Why make the long trip to Wycombe and freeze on a cold night while you can enjoy the game from your couch. I bet only local fans in a 100 miles radius are likely to come and no one else will bother…

Then comes the other parameter. There will other English women’s football fans watching football in 2 other grounds : a few of those will be at Linkoping Arena in Sweden to watch the Reds and a few thousands will be at Ashton Gate to support Bristol Academy. I know there are many fans in the women’s football community who would have loved to watch the Conti cup final and the   Bristol Academy game as well. I do not think it is clever to force that small but faithful community to choose. I mean do the FA expect Arsenal and City fans to come en masse to the final so that they think they do not need neutral fans ?

The big question is : would the FA organise Capital One Cup final on the same day as the Champions League group or knock-out stage ? A look at the UEFA calendar shows the next international dates are 25th to 30th, so why not play the final on a week-end on the 18th or 19th of October. It is not even a problem with the  Senior England camp as it is planned from the 21st to the 31st of October while the U23 England camp has no player from 4 teams.

We all know scheduling the FA WSL has been a problem for the last 4 season and the Conti Cup final is no exception, still it is disappointing to see that many people will not attend.