GUNNERS STRETCH THEIR LEAD AT THE TOP OF THE WSL
Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the WSL with a topsy turvy 4-2 win over West Ham United on Sunday. The Gunners fell behind to a Jane Ross goal, before a debut strike from Janni Arnth and a header from Leah Williamson gave Arsenal the lead. Scotland striker Ross levelled the scores again shortly before half time.
Beth Mead assisted three goals as league leaders Arsenal Women opened 2019 with a win over London neighbours
Posted by The FA Women's Super League on Monday, 7 January 2019
But two second half efforts from Danielle van de Donk sealed a 4-2 win for Arsenal. The Dutch attacker scored a hat trick against the same opposition in the reverse fixture back in September, an uncannily similar encounter which Arsenal won 4-3. But almost as significantly, second placed Manchester City were held 1-1 at Bristol City, meaning Montemurro’s side have a 2 point lead with a game in hand.
— The FA Women's Super League (@FAWSL) January 6, 2019
But there is a chasing pack behind City who deserve Arsenal’s attentions, not least Chelsea who have won 6 in a row now and come to Meadow Park on Sunday for a crucial game. Arsenal could all but knock Chelsea out of the title picture with a victory, but the teams are on very different trajectories since Arsenal thrashed the defending champions 5-0 at Kingsmeadow back in October.
CONTI CUP ON WEDNESDAY
Arsenal’s schedule immediately becomes compressed after the Christmas break, before Sunday’s mouth watering clash against Chelsea, the Gunners take on Birmingham City on Wednesday evening in the quarter-finals of the Conti Cup. Arsenal are defending the trophy they won last season. This is a straight knockout tie.
The game takes place on Wednesday evening at 730pm at Meadow Park. Tickets are £6 adults and £1 concessions. A full match preview will appear on the site on Tuesday and we’ll have exclusive player reaction shortly after the final whistle.
Only 3️⃣ days to go until we're back in #ContiCup action at Meadow Park 🏟
Adults are only £6, while kids can go for a quid 👀
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 6, 2019
LITTLE BY LITTLE
Arsenal were boosted by the return of captain Kim Little on Sunday, as the Scot managed 89 minutes of the West Ham victory. It was her first appearance for 3 months after picking up a broken leg in the 5-0 win at Chelsea in October. Emma Mitchell steps up her recovery, she was an unused substitute. Both have been spared a pair of Scotland friendlies later this month to assist their rehabilitation. “Kim Little, in the scope of women’s football, to have her on the teamsheet frightens any team. It’s great to have her playing now, she just needs to play now and get conditioning and get the game rhythm,” said manager Joe Montemurro.
Debutant Janni Arnth scored on her first Gunners appearance on Sunday. Her compatriot Katrine Veje has only just started training with the club, but could be in contention on Wednesday evening. You can read more about what to expect from Katrine here and Janni Arnth here as I spoke to Danish women’s football expert Katja Kragelund.
Cheers for the nice celes gals ☺️📸 pic.twitter.com/34D7kmR7MV
— Kunjan Malde (@kunjanmalde) January 6, 2019
You can also find out further information about the Danish duo and how they might be used at Arsenal with this article from Rich Laverty from Our Game Magazine.
CRAWLEY IN THE CUP
Arsenal have been handed an away tie at fourth tier club Crawley Wasps in the SSE FA Women’s Cup 4th Round. The game will be played on Sunday, 3rd February. The sides have never met before, Crawley play in the Women’s National League at Oakwood FC’s ground. Crawley Wasps are connected to the Crawley Town men’s team. Arsenal are aiming for a 15th FA Cup title.
It's Crawley Wasps. Versus @ArsenalWFC.
Sunday 3 February. pic.twitter.com/sHGkPN7TQi
— Crawley Wasps LFC (@CrawleyWaspsLFC) January 7, 2019
MONTEMURRO ‘BLESSED’ BY BETH
Traditionally, Beth Mead has been regarded as a pure goalscorer. At Sunderland, she averaged a goal a game across her time at Tyneside. At Arsenal, it has been slightly different, where she has often been utilised as a wide forward, with Vivianne Miedema taking a central berth. Beth’s form has gone somewhat unremarked upon this season, seeing as she only has 3 goals to her name this season.
But her movement on the left and her delivery from wide positions have formed an underrated facet of Arsenal’s attacking play. Against West Ham, the Yorkshire forward didn’t get on the scoresheet, but she did provide three assists, drawing praise from manager Joe Montemurro. “We’re blessed to have Beth Mead both as a footballer who can really, really hurt teams and also her ability to find space and get goals is very, very important for us,” he told the FA Website on Sunday.
PFA FUNDING SURGERY FOR WOMEN’S FOOTBALLERS
Women’s footballers are something like 6 times more likely to obtain cruciate ligament injuries than their male counterparts. (There are multitude theories as to why- including the fact that football boots are designed for men’s feet, bad pitches in the women’s game and the width of women’s hips causing them to land with a wider gait under heavy challenges, putting pressure on ligaments).
It recently emerged that, in WSL contracts, clubs can unilaterally rescind a player’s contract in the event of an injury with a recovery diagnosis of greater than 3 months. This has not been an issue for Arsenal, who are well funded and have been professional for a few years. But further digging from some very good women’s football journalists has shown that players in the WSL are often left to either rely on the NHS or else fund their own recuperation from long term injuries.
Again, this is not an issue for Arsenal, who provide private medical care for their injured players. But it does throw a spotlight on whether the whole of the WSL is ready to be fully professional, with a lack of funding on basics like injury recuperation. The Telegraph’s Katie Whyatt has revealed that the PFA has been assisting players in this position and continues to urge all WSL clubs to provide a guarantee of medical care for long term injuries as standard. Full story below.
Exclusive: The PFA is funding surgery for female footballers who would otherwise be relying on the NHS or paying for their own surgery because their clubs are not obliged to provide them with private medical insurance. Story: https://t.co/LL9y2dHCu0
— Katie Whyatt (@KatieWhyatt) January 6, 2019
IN CASE OF INTEREST….
The second half of the women’s football season is underway after the Christmas break, here are the key dates for your diaries, courtesy of Rich Laverty.
Some dates for your 2019 diary… pic.twitter.com/YXDLLQ7L0X
— Rich Laverty (@RichJLaverty) January 4, 2019
A full match preview for Wednesday’s match against Birmingham on the site on Tuesday, as well as exclusive player reaction shortly after the final whistle on Wednesday evening. There will also be a full match preview of the Chelsea match on Friday, with exclusive player reaction on the site on Sunday evening. January’s feature interview will be posted on the site later this month.
The Chelsea match will be shown live on BBC Online and the Red Button and kicks off at 1230pm on Sunday. The WSL encounter against Reading at Adams’ Park on Sunday, 27th January will also be shown live at 1230pm on the same channels.