Monday, June 17, 2024

Arsenal Women Weekly Round-Up: Reading Between the Lines

Arsenal got back to winning ways on Sunday with a 3-0 victory over Reading at a sleet swept Adams Park. Vivianne Miedema put the Gunners ahead in the second minute, before Kim Little’s 82nd minute penalty and Katie McCabe’s stoppage time piledriver from 25 yards sealed a comfortable 3-0 win.

Manchester City retained their 2 point lead at the top with a 3-0 victory of their own over Brighton, but Arsenal still have a game in hand over the leaders. City’s next WSL match is at home to Chelsea on February 10th, whose WSL title aspirations were surely ended with a 3-2 home defeat against Birmingham City, former Gunner Ellen White snatching a stoppage time winner for the Blues.

I spoke to Gunners captain Kim Little after the game, who played a slightly deeper role due to the absence of Lia Wälti. “We changed the formation a little today and played 3 at the back and that means the midfielders have a bit more defensive responsibility. As the game went on, with the early goal we naturally didn’t want to concede, so we fell back into our shape a lot,” she told me. Full match highlights are available below.

Reading 0-3 Arsenal

Miedema set a new Super League scoring record as Arsenal Women returned to winning ways at Reading.

Posted by The FA Women's Super League on Monday, 28 January 2019

Miedema’s 2nd minute effort was her 16th league goal of the season, breaking the WSL record for goals scored in a season set by Ellen White. This feat is made more remarkable by the fact that there are still 7 league games to play. The Dutch international told, “Honestly, I’m just happy that I can help the team.

“I’m a number nine so my game is all about scoring goals, and there’s still seven more games to go, so I’m hoping to score plenty more!” 22 year old Miedema also scored for Netherlands during the recent international break, bringing her tally to 54 goals in 66 appearances for her country. She is just 5 goals short of the all-time goalscoring record for the Netherlands.

The negative for the weekend was the news that Lisa Evans and Lia Wälti have picked up knee injuries and are set for a spell on the sidelines. Evans took a whack on the knee during the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea a fortnight ago and isn’t due to return until mid-March. Meanwhile, Lia Wälti missed her first minutes of the season after picking up a knee injury during a behind closed doors friendly between Switzerland and Canada last week.

Wälti has been a key part of the Gunners side this season and her injury is especially frustrating as it essentially came in an unofficial friendly fixture. Lia will miss the next four weeks according to the Arsenal medical team. Both will miss the mouth-watering Conti Cup semi-final against Manchester United next week.

The injury situation has become so bad in the squad that even manager Joe Montemurro has taken a leave of absence. The manager went down with a bout of the ‘flu on Monday and was unable to take the game against Reading. Assistant manager Aaron D’Antino conducted from the sidelines, he and assistant goalkeeper coach Leanne Hall took training from Tuesday onwards.

D’Antino told, “He actually said to me on Monday that he doesn’t feel too well and he felt like he was coming down with something, and then I didn’t see him for the rest of the week after that! Hopefully he’s back on board by next week, but there was just no point in risking it this week. It was best for him to stay away. The staff here have been brilliant and everyone’s dug deep this week, so it’s a great result.”

Prior to Sunday, Arsenal had not kept a clean sheet in the WSL since mid-November, so Gunners centre-half Louise Quinn was especially happy to see a “0” in the scoreline on Sunday. The Irish international told the FA website, “They’re great at switching the play and with balls over the top because the runs are so smart from the forwards.

“I thought in the first half, we had a decent bit of control. We felt very comfortable, apart from the last 5-10 minutes. It started to get a little bit shakier, so it was the perfect time for half-time, to come in and have words. I think we deserved the win – definitely. As defenders, it’s been a while since we kept a clean sheet, so it was really important.”

Arsenal take a little hiatus from the WSL with two wildly different challenges in the domestic cups. This Sunday, they play fourth tier Crawley Wasps at Oakfield FC in the FA Cup 4th Round. That game is followed by a tantalising Conti Cup semi-final game against Manchester United at Meadow Park, on Thursday, 7th February at 730pm.

17 year old Ava Kuyken made her first start in the WSL against Reading, playing in the number 10 role behind Vivianne Miedema. She was instrumental in the opening goal too. Ava has started some Continental Cup ties, but this was her first start in the WSL. Ava will join Florida Gators next season on a scholarship. Academy graduate Melissa Filis conjured an assist for Katie McCabe in her soliary minute on the pitch on Sunday, her first WSL action for the club.

Swiss midfielder Lia Wälti gave an interview to recently talking about her footballing roots, her career, her idol Zinedine Zidane, playing ice hockey as a teenager and her perfect day off. Full video available here. Also, Jordan Nobbs and Dan Carter took part in a quick fire Q & A for the WSL website, the full video for which is below. Arsenal also published a new edition of Teammates on Arsenal Player last week featuring Scottish internationals Emma Mitchell, Kim Little and Lisa Evans.

We’ll have a full match preview for the Crawley Wasps cup tie on the site on Friday, but ahead of that, our January feature interview is with Gunners centre-half Louise Quinn. I spoke to the Ireland international about her passion for increasing participation for young girls in sport and what her time playing in Sweden taught her about promoting women’s sport.

We also touch on her support for Repealing the 8th in Ireland, the Ireland squad speaking out against their working conditions a few years ago and how her friendship with 12 year old Freya Fitzpatrick has inspired her. As you’ll note from her defending, Louise is a very perceptive individual and I am very grateful to her on opening up on some sensitive subjects. The interview will go up on Wednesday lunchtime (UK time) so be sure not to miss it.

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