Arsenal Women Weekly Round-Up: Gunners Secure Champions League Qualification

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RETURN TO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE…
Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Birmingham City on Sunday has secured the Gunners return to the Champions League after a 5 year absence. Katie McCabe’s 79th minute sighter was enough to win a tight encounter, on a ground where Arsenal have not won in 90 minutes since 2015. The win means that Montemurro’s side will seal a first league title since 2012 with wins over second bottom Everton and then at home to Brighton.

The Gunners dominated the first half, but failed to convert some good chances. The second half was a little more unstructured as the title nerves perhaps surfaced for the first time against a supremely tough Blues side. But Katie McCabe’s 20 yard shot was enough to take the points with just over ten minutes to play. The players now break for international duty. The highlights from the victory are available below.

Arsenal Women had their title credentials tested by Birmingham City Women – but Katie McCabe found a late breakthrough

Posted by The FA Women's Super League on Monday, 1 April 2019

MONTEMURRO ‘THE WIN SHOWS THE GROWTH AND THE CHARACTER OF THIS TEAM’
I spoke to manager Joe Montemurro after the game and the boss said he was pleased with the character of the team to pull out the result. Montemurro suggested that a little bit of desperation took hold in the second half, with the title firmly in sight now. But once again, inverting the wingers made the difference, with McCabe scoring the winner from the right by cutting in on her left foot.

“They were overloading us with their full-back on the right hand side and we thought one of our number 6s was jumping in and letting her out, so we wanted to stop that. In the final third we just needed to take a little more time and place the ball into the net instead of trying to blast it in. Katie did place it in in the end and that made the difference. But they were getting us in transition in the middle of the second half because we were trying to force that final pass.”

‘WE’RE BUZZING WITH THIS RESULT’ SAYS LISA EVANS
Gunners full-back Lisa Evans said the team were ‘buzzing’ after securing Champions League football again. The Scottish international admitted that Birmingham wrestled control of the game away from Arsenal in the second half, but she told the FA website that the players were absolutely delighted with their afternoon’s work.

“We knew this was a big occasion. Our first aim this season was always to qualify for the Champions League and we have done that with this victory. The game got a bit more stretched in the second half and it was from that that we got the winning goal.” Full interview below.

NEW DEALS…
As you will have seen last week, match winner Katie McCabe committed her long term future to the club last week, telling Arsenal.com, “Playing for Arsenal Football Club is all about winning trophies. We’ve shown that in the past and we’ve got a great history of doing that, and we’ve put ourselves in some great situations in cup finals and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Dutch forward Danielle van de Donk also put pen to paper on a new long term deal a few days later, telling the official website, “I really like the team and our manager Joe is amazing and I learn a lot from him. We want to win prizes and I think we’ve got something good going on here.”

However, Swedish full-back Jess Samuelsson left the club last week, as suggested in last week’s Weekly Round-Up. Jess endured a nightmare two-year spell with two bad foot injuries and has returned to Sweden to play for Rosengard in order to prove her fitness ahead of this summer’s World Cup.

On the injury front, Emma Mitchell is back in light training, but it’s not yet known whether she will return before the end of the season. Having missed Euro 2017 with Scotland due to a torn hamstring, she will be keen not to miss out on the World Cup. Swiss midfielder Lia Wälti is unlikely to play again this season due to an ongoing knee injury.

INTERNATIONAL BREAK….
The vast majority of the squad will now join their countries for pre-World Cup internationals. Katrine Veje and Janni Arnth are in the Denmark squad for a friendly against France, who will be represented by Gunners ‘keeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin. Leah Williamson and Beth Mead are in the England squad for friendlies against Canada in Manchester and Spain in Swindon.

Danielle van de Donk, Dominique Bloodworth, Sari van Veenendaal and Vivianne Miedema are in the Dutch squad for their games on home soil against Mexico and Chile. Kim Little and Lisa Evans fly to Spain for friendlies against Chile and Brazil. Katie McCabe and Louise Quinn will represent Ireland against Italy in Reggio Emilia next week. The Gunners have the weekend off immediately after the international round as the FA Cup semi-finals take place on the w/e of 14th April.

‘ACL INJURY HAS BEEN MY TOUGHEST CHALLENGE’ SAYS JORDAN NOBBS
Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs admits that recovering from the ACL injury that has taken away her chances of playing in this summer’s World Cup has been the toughest challenge of her career to date. The 26-year old was in outstanding form, before rupturing her cruciate ligament in a WSL match against Everton last November.

Using her debut column in the Telegraph’s Women’s Sport section, Nobbs said, “Naturally, everybody asks about my knee. They’re only caring about me – but it’s also very hard to mentally switch off from it. I can feel my knee every single day. It’s still really stiff. It’s on my brain 24/7. I wake up, I go to sleep, I go past someone – it’s always my knee. It’s very hard to stay strong within that but you have to listen to your emotions, let yourself get upset and talk about it.” You can read the full interview below.

‘I CAN’T TALK LIKE A SURVIVOR YET, I’M STILL GOING THROUGH IT’
Jordan’s good friend and teammate Danielle Carter has just recovered from her own ACL injury nightmare and I spoke to Dan shortly after last weekend’s 5-1 win over Liverpool. “Yeah, Jordan wanted to copy me with the injury, she couldn’t stay away from me!

“But we’ve always been close on and off the pitch. We help each other out a lot and I want to keep helping Jordan out. It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to go through this together but we’ve supported each other.” You can read the full interview at the link below.

COMING UP
Things will be a little quieter now with the international break, so we’ll be back next week with another weekly round-up. But we will have full coverage of each of the Gunners’ final three WSL matches. There is plenty of retrospective content to get your teeth into, not least the March Arsenal Women Arsecast, in which we speak to the Guardian’s Women’s Football Correspondent Suzy Wrack about the big crowds seen recently at Atleti and Juventus and what a club like Arsenal could learn from them.

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Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey

Thanks for another thorough Women’s roundup Tim particularly the information you managed to glean about Mitch & Lia’s injuries. “Knee” must be a dreaded word when it comes AWFC chat!
It will be sad if neither of the aforementioned can appear before the end of what has been a momentous season for the Club. Lia must still be very much in line for player of the year despite her recent absence. As an aside to the first team it was great to hear that the U21 girls made it through to the WSL Academy Cup Final yesterday. I can’t find anything about the line-up (I believe the likes of Ruby Grant, Mel Filis may have been on international duty) so it will be of interest to know who played.
A unique treble, perhaps!!!!
Seniors – WSL Champions
U21’s – WSL Academy Cup Winners
U16’s – F A Girls Cup Winners
Fingers crossed.