Arsenal Ladies Development team season so far

Here is the full history of the Development  team season and the table ranking at the time. As usual another FA WSL stupid scheduling and the team is in a long chase to climb up the table.  You do wonder, if there wil be enough time to complete the full fixtures list. Expect loads of midweek games towards the end of the season.

25/09 London Bees H A-W *  0 point GD 0 4th in the League

02/10 Millwall Lioness H P-P *

09/10 Reading Women H P-P*

16/10 ?

23/10 no game due to U19 internationals

30/10 ?

06/11 Millwall Lionesses H Cup H-W** through to first round

13/11 Brighton Women A Cup  5-3 through to quarter-finals

20/11 Watford Ladies A P-P *** 0 point GD 0  9th in the League, gap to leaders 17 points

27/11 Oxford Ladies H 4-0  3 points GD +4  9th in the league, gap to leaders 14 points

* there is no information on the FA Website, but my guess is as there were five players at the U17 World Cup, the club was not able to field a full team.

** again no information but I believe Millwall had so many injuries, they could not field a full team and cup tie awarded to Arsenal

*** Postponed to due waterlogged pitch


Arsenal Ladies reserves struggling at the bottom of the League table

How often do you see an Arsenal Ladies team struggling in second place from bottom and 17 points behind the leaders. This is the current predicament for the Development team and with no fault of their own.

We know the FA is an expert at  messing up the FA WSL fixtures list and have been doing so since it started in 2011, but this year’s FA WSL Development League Southern Division schedule take the biscuit. If we look at the table, the Arsenal Ladies look like a team struggling and out of the title race after doing League and Cup double in the previous season.  I mean trailing the League leaders by 17 points is huge and a current 100% defeat record is really bad. But then, you start looking at the goal difference which is 0, while the teams just above and below Arsenal are on -17 and -20 respectively and you think, there is something fishy here.




So the Arsenal Ladies Reserves have lost one league game so far, not scored or conceded any goal. They are trailing the League leaders Brigton by a gigantic 17 points and runner-ups London Bees who beat them earlier this season by 12 points. They do have 6 games in hand on the League leaders and 4 games on hand on the runner-ups. It is still a huge mountain to climb to get back level with these teams and the Reserves more or less need to win every game to get back in the title race.

There are 18 League games to be played, therefore 51 points to be won. Here is the full list :


Nov 27 Oxford H

Dec 4 Yeovil A

Dec 11 Bristol H

Jan 29 Millwall H

Feb 12 Brighton H

Feb 19 Oxford A

Feb 26 Chelsea H

Mar 12 Yeovil H

Mar 19 Bristol A

Mar 26  London Bees A

Apr 16 Watford H

Apr 23 Chelsea A

Apr 30  Reading A

May 7 Brighton A


Currently with no dates :

Reading H

Millwall A

Watford A


That calendar is tight with the international dates and the FA WSL Development League Cup as well. You do wonder how the FA organised it to be so messy. One of the answer is the FIFA U17 WWC played in Jordan where 5 Arsenal Ladies were called up and it led to postponement and that A-W defeat at home to Bees. With a small squad as well, I could bet not all the games will be played this seasons as enough players won’t be available for certain games. let’s hope the girls can kickstart their leagues games with a win and  go far in the Cup.




Why I enjoy watching teams’ training sessions

I have been watching women’s football for nearly 15 years now and I see a lot of value in watching teams training sessions.

Today I was lucky enough to watch an Arsenal Ladies training session at London Colney and it was really an eye opener on some of the players. You can see things in training that explains why some players are picked while others are on the bench.

I was pleased  to see Rachel Yankey and Jodie Taylor in action, Taylor even managed to score a goal while Yankey was at left-back for the whole session. I will write more on today’s session once the season is over.

So through these years, I was lucky enough to be invited to many training sessions from French teams. For example, I saw the PSG women training sessions prior to the Glasgow Champions League away game and how they were setting up for the game the next day. I was also invited to watch training at Montpellier HSC when Jennifer Beattie arrived over there a few seasons ago.

I saw many training sessions from France WNT under Bruno Bini and a couple when Phillipe Bergeroo was the manager. I also witnessed a few sessions from France B teams and from the U19 side as well.

Those sessions help you understand the coaches’ philosophy and what they want to achieve in games. That’s why I find it sad that so you can’t really have access to the England teams the way you can for the France teams. I did manage to see a bit of an Emgland one back in Cyprus as England were training at the same time as France in the training complex, next to Larnaca’s airport 😉

I think, it was really interesting to see the Arsenal Ladies in training today as it confirmed what I have been seeing in term of performances from some players throughout the season.


Seattle trip to watch the Reign v Arsenal Ladies friendly

I have not blogged about an Arsenal Ladies away trip for a while, so I thought I would put a few words on the Seattle away trip.


In the last few years I have not done many away Arsenal Ladies games. Mostly because the timing is inconvenient or the ground is difficult of access by public transport as I don’t drive. Notts County or recently Doncaster Belles come straight to mind.

So when it was announced that Arsenal Ladies would play a friendly against the Seattle Reign I tought it was a great occasion to do some sightseeing and watch the girls in another country to add to my list.

Obviously, I had to spend a couple of days there to make it worthwhile, so I set up on Wednesday from London and flew back on Friday from Seattle because I wanted to be back on Saturday for the Development cup final played near Birmingham.

So I flew from London on the 25th of May and being a lucky traveller, I spent a lot of time at the airport. First my boarding pass did not go through the automatic gates. I went through the manual ones operated by staff and he sent me back downstairs to the ticketing office to have another one issued as my print at home one was not valid.

Considering I had already spent more than half an hour queueing at pre-check to have my passport pre-controlled before going to security it was a good start of the day. When you consider that I actually did not have any check-in luggage which would have added at least another hour queueing, you understand why it is better to come three hours before flight departure on the way to the USA.

So I went through the normal security, when I had to do the full body scanner, which was fine and then at the gate they had another security layer, where the guy just checked everything in my backpack and my hand luggage. That was about 15 minutes extra checking every item in my possession.

Then I got on the plane, upgraded to premium economy with more leg space and I was close to the toilets which is always a bonus. It means you don’t have to walk all along the plane and queue for a long time. The trip was uneventful, even if long as I managed to watch four movies. It felt longer than the trips I did to Japan to watch the girls over there.

Arriving in Seattle it was the usual long queue for the foreign tourist as US immigrations are very tough on visitors and the questioning can be very long. Luckily enough, they had a queue opened for resident as usual as for those who had already entered the country with their ESTA, something I had done as I came in 2014 for the USA  v France game and the NWSL draft in Baltimore earlier in the year.

So that did not take too long and I was out to find my hotel using one of those courtesy bus that are hidden somewhere in the airport. After a long wait, the courtesy bus arrived and it took us three minutes to get to the hotel. I could have walked actually to it and it would have been quicker.

Interestingly enough the hotel was close to the public transport, the link light rail that goes straight to downtown Seattle so after checking-in and showering I went straight into town as the jet lag effect was not strong enough to send me to bed.


Off I went to meet a Canadian journo @harjournalist I was meeting that day to give her a Panini Euro 2016 album and a few stickers. While I was waiting for her popped up Danielle Carter, Marta Corredera and Dominique Janssen. Dan recognised me as she has been with the club for many years and had a quick chat. I am not sure if the other players knew who I was and probably thought I was a local fan with an Arsenal shirt. As I don’t do program signing and post game selfies, they cannot recognise the fans like me. They must know the Car Park Crew from Borehamwood though.

So I met Harjeet did some sightseeing and then went back to my hotel as it was about 3am UK time and needed a good sleep.


The next day was game day. Another day of sightseeing before the main event at 7pm. I went round the town and then back to the hotel in the afternoon to have a nap again as my body clock was messed up as expected. I saw the space needle and many other things. Below is the Memorial Stadium view from the Space Needle and the entrance.



Then it was game time. The memorial Stadium is quite big with two main stands with the cheapest seats starting at $18, so a bit more expensive that the prices in the England or France. There is some restricted view on those seats as well but the tactical view is superb.


I met two nice people at the game a Thorns fan Nicole @endibs_rn and another friendly journo @jacobcristobal. It always nice to meet IRL the people that you come across on twitter.

The game itself was interesting in the first half when the Reign put their best team on the pitch and chanegd in the second half when both sides made a lot of substitutions. You can see the full game here :

For the Arsenal fans, it will be remembered as the first Arsenal game for Jodie Taylor and the ankle injury that put Leah Williamson out for the a few months and maybe until the end of the season.


At the end of the game, the Arsenal players went to speak to the Cascadia Gooners and there were many Arsenal fans in attendance and they  went to the fan zone behind one of the goal that was extremey busy.


It was nice to be able to see the Arsenal Ladies in the USA and on Friday I was on my way back to London. I went to the early flights and to my surprise the check-in opens four hours before the flight time because the baggage drop is slow and the TSA queueing is really bad and travellers seem to miss flights because of it.

I went in the queue at H-4, got to the desk at H -3.30 to be told the flight was full and my ticket was not valid. For those who understand the jargon my PNR was not linked to the ticket number and the girl at check-in could not be bothered doing it and had no time doing anyway. They were actually looking for voluntary passengers to get on the next flight, the famous DBC passengers.

So I missed the morning flight and my chance to make it on time to London and go the Development team Cup final which annoyed me greatly. For the record the Dev Team beat Sheffield 2-1 aet to complete a cup treble with the 1st team and the u17 team.

After a few hours being bored at the airport, I went to the check-in desk and the supervisor linked my ticket to the PNR and confirmed I would get on the next plane as there were 20 seats available.

So I got wandering in the airport waiting for my plane and bumped into a few players who were all going to eat and a funny scene with Jordan pushing Leah around who was in a wheelchair. Then I went to collect my seat ticket and the whole team was also waiting to board at the gate.

They did a few pictures with some Reign fans who were really appreciative and we all went on the plane. Most of the players were seating a few rows behind me actually but I did not bother to speak to them.

Firstly, because I had a window seat besides two old German people who were asleep most of the flight and every time I wanted to go out, I had to wake them up and they were not happy bunnies lol

And secondly because when you are on a long trip home for the USA I am sure the players don’t need to be bothered by a fan, while they tried to rest and sleep. Saying that I bet if the Car Park Crew had been on the plane, they would not have been so considerate for the players 😉

In the end, I managed to get Jemma Rose to sing my shirt on the shuttle train at Heathrow Terminal 5. I remember well when Jem was a promising player back in 2009/10 with Birmingham City Ladies. She is a good centre back and need to be back to her best while Josephine Henning is unavailable due to the Olympics in August.

Overall a nice trip to Seattle and it was a competitive game to watch.





Jodie Taylor not cleared to play for Arsenal yet ?

There was a surprising information given by Tony Leighton about Jodie Taylor being not eligible for the FA Women’s Cup final. As of today the England forward has not played a game  for the Arsenal Ladies.

Here is the tweet :

For those who wonder what is an international clearance also known as the ITC ( International transfer certificate), let’s have a look at the FIFA regulations on the status and transfer of the player , October 2015 version which is the latest one.

Players registered at one association may only be registered at a new
association once the latter has received an International Transfer Certificate
(hereinafter: ITC) from the former association. The ITC shall be issued free of
charge without any conditions or time limit. Any provisions to the contrary
shall be null and void. The association issuing the ITC shall lodge a copy with
FIFA. The administrative procedures for issuing the ITC are contained in
Annexe 3, article 8, and Annexe 3a of these regulations

Any player who is registered with a club that is affiliated to one association shall
not be eligible to play for a club affiliated to a different association unless an ITC
has been issued by the former association and received by the new association
in accordance with the provisions of this annexe. Special forms provided by FIFA
for this purpose or forms with similar wording shall be used

At the very latest, the ITC must be requested on the last day of the registration
period of the new association.

All applications to register a professional must be submitted by the new club
to the new association during one of the registration periods established
by that association. All applications shall be accompanied by a copy of the
contract between the new club and the professional. Equally, a copy of the
transfer agreement concluded between the new club and the former club shall
be provided to the new association, if applicable. A professional is not eligible
to play in official matches for his new club until an ITC has been issued by the
former association and received by the new association.

The last sentence would explain why Jodie Taylor has not played a game yet for Arsenal Ladies.


Then if we have a look at the FA WSL 2016 Rules, there are some bizarre provisions on players playing without an ITC ie something that should not happen as per FIFA as seen in bold above.

8.7 It is the responsibility of all Clubs to ensure any Player signing a registration form has, where necessary, the required International Clearance Certificate

Then the bizarre rules starting piling in:

Playing an ineligible player 8.65 and 8.66:

Any Club found to have played an ineligible Player in a Competition Match or Competition Matches shall, save in exceptional circumstances, have any points gained from that Competition Match or Competition Matches deducted from its record, up to a maximum of 12 points, and have levied upon it a fine. The Management Committee may also order that such Competition Match or Competition Matches be replayed on such terms as are decided by the Management Committee which may also levy penalty points against the Club in default.

The Management Committee may determine not to impose a points deduction in circumstances where the ineligibility is due to the failure to obtain an International Clearance Certificate or where the ineligibility is related to the Player’s status

According to this rule Arsenal could play Jodie Taylor and get away without a penalty depending on a vote from the management committee, this cannot be serious ??

The same apply for the FA WSL Conti Cup :

Where a Club is found to have played an ineligible Player in a Competition Match or Competition Matches that Competition Match or Competition Matches shall be awarded to the opposition Club.  Notwithstanding the above, the Management Committee shall have the power, in its absolute discretion, not to order that the Competition Match be awarded to the opposition team only in circumstances where the ineligibility is due to the failure to obtain an International Clearance Certificate or where the ineligibility is related to the Player’s status. In such circumstances, the Management Committee shall have the power to impose any sanction that it determines.”

I find it baffling that a team can actually register with the FA a player without an ITC and could also play that player in games and potentially get away without being penalised as it only depends on a vote from the Management Committee.



Arsenal Ladies squad numbers updated

The matchday program has all updated the whole squad numbers  including all the youngsters

1.  Emma Byrne

2. Alex Scott

3. Emma Mitchell

4. Vyan Sampson

5. Casey Stoney

6. Vicky Losada

7. Lianne Sanderson

8. Jordan Nobbs

9. Danielle Carter

10. Kelly Smith

11. Rachel Yankey

12. Chioma Ubogagu

14. Leah Williamson

15. Siobhan Chamberlain

16. Carla Humphrey

17. Natalia de Pablos Sanchon

18. Chloe Kelly

19. Jemma Rose

20. Caroline Weir

21. Evie Clarke

22. Alice Hassall

23. Hollie Augustus

25. Jade Bailey

28. Taome Oliver

Millwall Lionesses dev 4 Arsenal Ladies dev 3

A first defeat for the young Arsenal Ladies development team. As people say: you always learn more from the defeats than the wins.

The team was even younger as usual as three of the 5 senior players (born in 96) were either in Japan with the first team or injured. That left team captain Fran Steele as the main senior players playing alongside mainly 17 years old girls.

The starting 11 had players shuffled grom their previous game positions :
Morgan, Slater Steelle Harbour-Brown Cowley, Kiely Hassall Stojko-Down, Mills Kelly Clarke . The sub used was Fatuga and unused was Augustus.

I have to say I would have preferred to see Fran in midfield and Kelsey at center back.

So what are the factors explaining the defeat ?

First the team was not compact enough defensively. There was too much space between the differents lines. There was also a problem in midfield where the 3 players did not seem to cover each other as expected.

Then the opposition imposed a physical game with a lenient referee, the girls did not manage to adapt the opposition + referee style. To counter this kind of play there are two ways. Respond with your own physicality and escalate the fight for the ball or simply outpass the opposition. Well nothing like this happened or only by sequences.

The 3 goals were quality shots by Stojko-Down and Kelly and there were at time some great pass and move. But I find disappointing that none of the players used the diagonal ball to the opposite winger to stretch Millwall defense and create space for players to run at.

Overall, the defending under pressure was not the greatest especially on set pieces. The girls do not concede 4 goals very often in the reserves. But it was an overall team defending problem.

And finally finishing was ok but there were at least 4 clear chances that could have ended in the back of the net

So it will be a good lessons and things to learn to take into 2015. This young team can do the double like the previous generation did. Although last year’s team had a lot of 3rd and 4th year reserves player early in the season.

So far the 2014/15 has been good and that defeat is surely a simple accident on the road to success and a good lesson in term of players individual development. After all the aim is not only to win game but to prepare the girls for the 1st team and the gap between 1st team and reserves is huge.
I have no doubt a couple of girls will step up to the 1st team in the neat future joining Vyan and Carla.