Arsenal Ladies cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory over rock bottom Doncaster Belles in South Yorkshire last night. Tim Stillman caught up with Arsenal and England midfielder Jordan Nobbs after the game for Arseblog News.
The Gunners comfortable victory against still pointless Donny Belles kept their faint hopes of Champions league qualification alive. But third place is more than likely where they are going to finish in the WSL table and Nobbs admits that the squad are not satisfied with this, “It’s certainly not for want of trying, but I’ve been at this club for six years now and Arsenal Ladies always wants to win the league. That’s always our aim, if not we have to be getting that second place [and Champions League qualification].”
Expectations for the season were swelled by the close season signings of superstars such as Fara Williams, Jodie Taylor and Asisat Oshoala, whilst title winners Manchester City opted for squad stability. But Nobbs rejects the idea that the level of change in the squad made it more difficult for the team to gel, “You can keep the same starting XI and have a bad season,” she reasons, “We should be performing no matter what. We’re a strong squad of 23, not just an XI.”
But despite league disappointment, Nobbs and the girls are not yet ready to concede resounding champions Manchester City Women are pulling away from the chasing pack, “The league is much more competitive now. This is only the first time they have won it, if they win it a few times in a row, we can talk about them setting new standards in English women’s football.
“We’ve been on top in some of the games we’ve played against them but haven’t taken our chances. You look at Jane Ross at Man City and she’s had a great season, she’s been very clinical and that’s made a difference. They’ve had a great season but we’ll see what happens next year,” she says enthusiastically.
On a personal note, it’s been another impressive season for the 23 year old. Manager Pedro Losa has opted to rotate his team heavily, but the dynamic midfielder is one of the few players to always play when fit. This is especially impressive in central midfield, where competition is so fierce in the Arsenal squad. “I want to play every game, but I want to be pushed as well,” she insists, “I want that competition to become a better player.”
It was this kind of winning attitude that boss Pedro Losa had in mind when he singled Nobbs out for individual praise in September, “I think Jordan is one of the players who is stepping up in terms of mentality and competitiveness.” Nobbs is flattered by Losa’s words, “I’m very proud that he thinks that of me. I think I am a winner, I’ve won lots of trophies here and the challenge for me is to keep that mindset and keep pushing for more trophies for Arsenal. But I still have plenty to learn.”
Whilst Nobbs has not been rotated out of the side, she has played in different positions this season. She has played a deeper midfield role for England, due to her probing, sweeping passing range. With the likes of Janssen, Losada, Fara Williams and Leah Williamson all competing for midfield spots, Nobbs has played on the right and left flanks at times in this campaign. Stockton born Nobbs, who always converses with her father, ex Hartlepool centre half Keith Nobbs, immediately after every match, insists it has been valuable for her education to shift positions.
“I really enjoyed playing on the right. I just want to be on the pitch to be honest with you. It’s really helpful for your development to play in different roles, especially when you’re a midfielder. I think my fitness and energy makes me a good fit for the right wing.” Nobbs has always carried a goal threat from midfield, but as her beautiful slide rule pass for Natalia for Arsenal’s third goal against the Belles demonstrated, she has developed the creative side of her game this season.
“Wherever I am on the pitch, I want to move around a lot and get on the ball and create things and I can do that from either wing or central midfield. Playing in different positions will help me to become a better player in the future,” Nobbs says considerately. At the end of the interview, she breezes back towards father and mentor Keith to discuss the finer points of another fine performance. This is a player trained on self improvement, if the Gunners are to make a more assertive title challenge next season, you feel she will be at the heart of it.
Arsenal Ladies’ next game takes place on Sunday, 30th October at home to Doncaster Belles. The match will be played at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park with a 2pm kickoff. Tickets are available on the turnstile, £6 adults and £3 concessions.