GUNNERS SUFFER PENALTY SHOOTOUT DEFEAT IN CONTI CUP FINAL
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.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) February 24, 2019
MONTEMURRO, ‘WE SAW AN ARSENAL WITH A BIG HEART’
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.
https://t.co/HBA4hlaCfA Full transcript of Joe Montemurro's press conference yesterday, thoughts on injuries, why Miedema couldn't start, not watching the penalties, the performance of Leah Williamson and ' finding an Arsenal with a big heart and a huge backbone.'
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) February 24, 2019
WILLIAMSON ‘WE’RE PISSED OFF NOW….BUT WE’LL GIVE THE LEAGUE EVERYTHING WE’VE GOT’
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.
— Amanda Williamson (@haggerspaggers) February 23, 2019
MONTEMURRO OPENS UP ON MIEDEMA OMISSION
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.”
‘BEFORE JOE CAME IN I WAS A BIT LOST, I DIDN’T ENJOY MY FOOTBALL ANYMORE’ ADMITS DvD
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.
Arsenal's @DanielleDonk says she felt "lost" before Joe Montemurro arrived at the club.
Ahead of the Continental Cup final she tells me about finding happiness, winning becoming a habit and Vivianne Miedema.
— Rich Laverty (@RichJLaverty) February 21, 2019
LITTLE GOES LARGE
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.
Congratulations to our goal scorer Kim Little, who became our third player to have scored 10 or more goals this season across all competitions #WeAreTheArsenal #ProudToSupport ? pic.twitter.com/zaM9MHRCFN
— Brian J Kelly (@br14njk) February 20, 2019
JORDAN NOBBS AND LEAH WILLIAMSON- ROOMMATES
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:
LAURA HARVEY OPENS UP ON TROPHY LAIDEN ARSENAL SPELL
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.