Arsenal 1 Manchester City Women 0: Analysis and Conclusions

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After defeat in their last WSL fixture away at Chelsea, Arsenal responded with a 1-0 home victory over top of the table Manchester City. Tim Stillman chews over the main takeaways from a dominant performance and a vital 3 points.

It was a good time to play Manchester City….
Which sounds like a strange thing to say given that City had won all of their WSL games without conceding a goal so far this season. However, with Aoife Mannion injured and Kiera Walsh suspended, Nick Cushing was forced into some personnel changes. First of all, he played Jill Scott and Caroline Weir much further back than usual to offer some protection to the defence. He also had to play rookie Fidalgo at right-back to that Gemma Bonner could move into the centre of defence.

Usually Walsh patrols the area in front of the defence and distributes excellently to Scott and Weir ahead of her. With a far more defensive brief for Scott and Weir, City just could not support their forwards in any meaningful way. Allied to this, the fact that Ellen White- the archetypal counter attack striker, was only fit enough for the bench after a three month absence with a knee injury, while Georgia Stanway also wasn’t 100% fit. City didn’t create a chance of note and Arsenal were able to pen them in.

City might have been toothless in attack, but they always defend well…
You always know that a Nick Cushing side will be well organised and difficult to break down and Sunday was no different. Cushing’s team is rarely expansive but they really bunkered up against Arsenal, knowing that a draw suited them more than it did the home team. It was an understandable tactic, the issue for City was that they didn’t have a way to respond when Vivianne Miedema finally opened them up on the stroke of half-time.

Miedema told me on Thursday that she hadn’t really trained properly last week after picking up a knock on her calf against Charlton last weekend. Had the opponents been of a more modest stature I doubt she would have played. But once again she buried the opportunity that came her way, thanks again to her telepathic link-up with Kim Little, which has proved very fruitful on a number of occasions this season. City didn’t have a response to going 1-0 down because they were playing for 0-0.

Manchester City did their homework and set out their stall by man-marking Leah Williamson…
Leah, along with Lia Wälti, is Arsenal’s chief ball progressor from centre half. She always looks to break a line when the Gunners build attacks, feeding the midfield with cutting, penetrative passes. City knew this and detailed Janine Beckie to sit on Williamson and block up Arsenal’s exit strategy. It wasn’t lost on Joe Montemurro.

They let Jen Beattie have the ball because she’s a right-footer playing on the left and they knew she would want to pass in-field,” he told the press after the game. However, the Arsenal manager had an answer. “Their midfield line was very deep and not coming out at all, so we moved Leah forward a little bit and that’s where the goal came from. We pushed her higher, than we were able to play out and break a line and from there we scored.” Montemurro’s ability to react in-game is a significant weapon in Arsenal’s arsenal.

Jordan Nobbs and Lia Wälti were close to their best again…
Jordan was voted player of the match, but Lia or even Kim Little could have just as easily won the accolade. City aimed to clog up the middle of the pitch but the mixture of Nobbs’ energy, Wälti’s ability in tight spaces and Little’s close control meant they were restricted to forming a barrier without ever being able to pose a threat of their own.

Wälti and Nobbs are still on the comeback trail from serious knee injuries, but today they looked closer to their natural level which, make no mistake, is world class in both respects. Little teed up Miedema for the game’s only goal with an excellent through ball, she saw the space to play into and gave the Dutch striker lots of space to wrap her body around the ball on her right foot. It was a thoughtful pass. Arsenal’s defence stood firm, their striker won the game, but it was the midfield where the battle was truly won.

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Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey

Yes it was the perfect time to play City. Once plan A had failed they just didn’t seem to have a response.
Our front 3 are due a “feet up” Monday after the way they harried the normally solid City backline into so many errors. DvdD in particular buzzed around like an 🐝 on speed!
When is that BT commentator ever going to pronounce Viv’s name correctly? Try MEEDEMAR.

Max

I think the BT commentator got it correct, the FA Player commentators (one of them is in the video on this article) are errmm… yeh 😐 – But I won’t complain too much, as thanks to them I can follow every game.

But not getting the name right after two full seasons is quite annoying…

Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey

Apologies to the BT guy…..yes it was the FAWSL clip that was the source of irritation!

Armchair
Armchair

Isn’t it MEE-DE-MA? Many an announcer has butchered it. Do the women have a press guide for the team? if so, it should show the proper pronunciation all player names (when there might be confusion). Good win, big win.

Peter Story Teller
Peter Story Teller

Pronounciation is not always simple particularly when it is a name from a different language.
I watched the away Fiorentina leg on some streaming site and we had a player called Beth-any Mid up front. Drove me mental!

Carozil
Carozil

Aha!
At least there’s something to be cheerful about at the Arsenal.

charles
charles

i think am going to stick with these ladies until the lads get their act together

Fun Gunner
Fun Gunner

Take a bow, ladies. Little+Nobbs+Walti = best midfield in the WSL. Title hopes were in the balance, but it’s definitely still on for now.
Big props to Joe, time and again his tactical flexibility turns games for us. Plus of course, an exceptionally versatile squad.

Eeleen
Eeleen

Was this our best possible line up? Certainly in the central positions – cb’s, midfield and striker.

Only one I would maybe exchange would be Leonie back to RB and move Lisa up to the wing instead of Beth.

For me Katie in leftback positions has been again one of our unsung heros this season. She was so good yesterday. I would play her at left back in our strongest games, even when all the others are also fit.

Peter Story Teller
Peter Story Teller

Katrine is stonking down the left too and is coming back to fitness. She and Katie mirror Leonie and Lisa

Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey

Then of course there is Mitch looking lean and sharp after her recent troubles. Supporter opinions will always vary on “strongest”line-ups but one of Joe’s main skills seems to be picking the right horses for the right courses but he can only do that with all the thoroughbreds at his disposal with the right attitudes. The Mighty Quinn is a prime example of this. Having had an outstanding season in anchoring the best defence in the WSL she finds herself as back-up to Beats but her attitude in actions and words is exemplary 👏👏👏

Stillberto
Stillberto

Agree, earlier in the season I thought it was a shame not to see Katie on the RW doing her Arjen Robben thing, but she was superb against City.

SharpasFc
SharpasFc

Thanks again Tim for your excellent coverage of our Women’s team.