Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Arsenal Women Weekly Round-Up: 1 Final Down, 6 To Go

Arsenal lost the Conti Cup Final to Manchester City on penalties on Saturday afternoon. After a tense, tight 0-0 draw, the tie went to spot kicks, with City prevailing 4-2. In truth, City were worth the victory, having hit the crossbar twice during the game. With Vivianne Miedema fit enough only for the bench, Arsenal were left to count the cost of injuries once more.

With Emma Mitchell, Jordan Nobbs, Dan Carter, Jess Samuelsson, Lia Wälti, Tabea Kemme and Viki Schnaderbeck looking on from the sidelines, this final proved a bridge too far. Danish winger Katrine Veje left the ground on crutches with a suspected fracture in her leg, but a scan will determine the extent of the damage this week. Arsenal have to win 5 of their last 6 league games to win the WSL, which is their sole target for the season now.

Despite the defeat, manager Joe Montemurro was proud of the fight shown by his players in the final, citing the burgeoning injury list. The Australian said the performance was “Un-Arsenal and Un-Joe Montemurro”, but he found positives in the way the team scrapped, fought and defended against a top class team.

“We had to use the resources available to us, but from my perspective we saw an Arsenal with a big heart, a team with a huge backbone now and a team that showed it wants to work for each other and that it wants to go forward together and be the best,” he said in his post match press conference. You can read the full transcript below.

Leah Williamson was in rueful mood after an outstanding performance at the heart of the Gunners defence, drawing effusive praise from her manager. But the 21-year old said her and her teammates would use the hurt to try to win a first WSL title in 7 years. “We’ve got players that know what it means to be Arsenal and we’ve got new players that already know what that means,” she told me post-match.

“Today we maybe didn’t play the Arsenal way, but that character is what it takes to play for a top team to take a game as far as you can, to fight and when it comes to the league, that’s exactly what we will do.” Williamson will fly to the US with the England squad for the She Believes Cup as we enter an extended international break.

Manager Joe Montemurro sprung a surprise by naming star striker Vivianne Miedema on the bench. The Gunners boss revealed that Miedema was unlikely to be fit enough to play for 90 minutes and therefore prioritised her playing a part in the latter stages of the game instead. Miedema has been in outstanding goalscoring form of late and had scored in her 3 previous finals prior to Saturday.

Joe told Arsenal.com, “We had to make a decision whether to put her under the stress of 90 minutes, plus extra time and maybe penalties, and it went that way. She didn’t recover well ‪from Wednesday night and we just felt that it was probably putting her at risk by playing her for the full amount. We told her she can have 30 minutes and she can just go for it for 30 minutes, and at least then it won’t be a massive load for her, so we know she’d be able to recover.”

In The build-up to Saturday’s game, Danielle van de Donk gave a revealing interview to Rich Laverty for Our Game magazine. The Dutch international has been revitalised under the stewardship of Joe Montemurro. Prior to Montemurro’s appointment, she underwent a four month dry spell in front of goal.

This season, that has all changed and she has 11 so far this season. Van de Donk admitted that she felt ‘a bit lost’ prior to Montemurro’s appointment. “Joe is just a very big plus for me,” she said. “Before he came in I was a bit lost, I didn’t enjoy football that much anymore. I’m a player who needs freedom because that’s when I’m at my best and Joe gives me a lot of that.” The full interview is available below.

Kim Little became the third Arsenal player to go into double figures for goals for Arsenal this season, after her double against Yeovil last week. She follows Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk in hitting the 10 goal mark. Jordan Nobbs would surely have joined them were it not for injury, she was on 9 when she ruptured her cruciate ligament back in November. Beth Mead will go into double figures for assists when she next sets up a goal.

The FA have released a new edition of ‘Roommates’ featuring Gunners stars Jordan Nobbs and Leah Williamson. Leah and Jordan are asked a succession of multiple choice questions about one another, including their career highlights, holiday destinations and favourite films. The full video can be viewed below:

Former Gunners boss Laura Harvey gave an honest interview with The Coaches Voice last week, opening up on her spell in charge of Arsenal, where she won three league titles, two Conti Cups and an FA Cup in a three year spell. She had been assistant manager and admits that, aged 29, stepping up to become the manager of England’s most successful club was a tough transition.

“Arsenal was the hardest environment for me to understand. The most pressured. The highest in terms of expectations. I’d been a manager at Birmingham City before joining the club, and spent two years working at Arsenal as an assistant coach. But stepping up to become manager was difficult. I was 29 years old. I’d been friends with some of those players.

“Jordan Nobbs was new into the team, so the conversation I had with her was very different to the one I had with Emma Byrne, who’s older than me and was definitely in my social circle at the time.” Laura left to manage Seattle Reign in 2012 and is currently the manager of Utah Royals, she says that the improved salary and the lifestyle in the States had always been on her radar. The full piece is well worth a read.

Arsenal don’t play again until March 14th with an extended international break now on the horizon, so it might slightly quieten down in terms of coverage. But we will have another Arsenal Women Arsecast for you in March, as well as full coverage of March fixtures against Bristol City, Liverpool and Birmingham, including exclusive player reaction from each match.

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Arse City Blues

It’s so good that the women’s game worldwide is becoming known and respected. When I saw the conti cup final result the other day, I had that same hollow feeling in my chest as when I’ve seen the results and the men’s team had been beaten. Without the coverage from Tim on here, maybe I wouldn’t feel so connected to this team. So thanks for that!

Up the Arse.


Great for us fans who live in other parts of the world (Sweden for me) to get these updates and interviews that Tim provides for us. 🙂 It is very interesting to follow the women’s team as well as the men’s team. So thank you for that! 🙂

Chris Humphrey

My live Arsenal highlights (and lowlights!):- 1965 – First game at Highbury v Aston Villa 3-3 1968 – Wembley League Cup v Leeds 0-1 1969 – Wembley League Cup v Swindon 1-3 (aet) 1970 – Highbury Fairs Cup Final 2nd leg 3-0 1971 – White Hart Lane First Division Title v Spuds 1-0 1972-1988 – hundreds of games loads of memories like the “5 minute” FA Cup Final win over MankU 3-2. 1988- 1996 A good time to be a Gooner. George Graham years…….until it all went sour! 1996 Here comes Arsene….Who? Magical years, the finest football, the Invincibles!! 2015… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

I remember Dan’s goal to win us the cup but did you see Beth Mead’s effort for England tonight?
She is starting to make a habit of scoring from the corner flag!

DB’s first touch

I just want to echo the comments above… when Arseblog started increasing coverage of the women’s team I wasn’t sure if I’d read all the articles, mostly because I simply didn’t know enough about the squad etc to feel connected and the only Women’s football I get a chance to watch usually are the world cups (no other coverage on Canadian tv). However, Tim has done a great job and I now very much look forward to the weekly round up and match preview articles. On a related note, any idea of when we might see some improvements on the… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

Maybe it’s me, but Lia Walti seems like something of an unsung hero in this team. I think she’s a big loss in terms of the way Joe Montemurro wants the team to play.

Tabea Kemme seems to have been injured the whole season – what’s going on there?

Peter Story Teller

Agreed. One of my earlier posts I called Lia Walti an unsung heroine. Performances really took a knock when she dropped out of the team. I’m pleased that there is an international break now to give some of these long term injured a chance to be available for the push to win WSL

Peter Story Teller

Some good pictures of Dan, Viki, Tabea and Jess Samuelsson in training on the official Arsenal site at the mo!
Hopefully they are not so far from some cameo appearances to regain their match fitness.

Chris Humphrey

Lia Walti has indeed been the most missed miss. From day one I thought she was the one that released Jordan, Kim & DvD to get forward & support Viv & Beth. It will be glad tidings if she does make it back for Bristol. We’ve had comment about the long term injured & I see that Lisa was training rather than with Scotland but any news of Mitch & Kathrin Veje ( who I think has done really well to integrate so quickly upon her arrival in difficult circumstances).

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