Arsenal Women had to be patient at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday but got their reward thanks to second half goals from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema as the defending champions won the first ever North London derby in the WSL. Tim Stillman was at the game for Arseblog News.
Spurs caught Arsenal off guard by playing two strikers…
Which sounds like an attacking move and, in many senses, it still was. By leaving two up, Spurs gave themselves a sporting chance on the counter-attack. It meant the Gunners could not over commit and Tottenham really ought to have taken the lead in the first half. Kit Graham was through one on one with Manu Zinsberger, but on her weaker left foot she could only shoot tamely at the Gunners goalkeeper.
However, the deployment of Kit Graham and Riana Dean as strikers was an astute defensive move. Montemurro’s side build from the back through Leah Williamson and Jen Beattie, who both pass very well between the lines. Manchester City opted to man-mark Leah Williamson in the Gunners’ last WSL game to interrupt Arsenal’s flow.
Spurs took that a step further by using two strikers to block the passing lanes for Beattie and Williamson and crowding Lia Wälti in defensive midfield, who struggled with the extra attention. The 5-3-2 setup meant Tottenham could strike a balance between a high press and a deep block. It was smart and in the first half especially, led to one of Arsenal’s most impoverished halves of football under Joe Montemurro.
Arsenal were below par, but individual quality told…
Spurs kept the supply lines to Vivianne Miedema limited- for a time anyway- and tracked van de Donk’s runs from the right, they kept Mead wide and Jordan Nobbs won’t be at her best again for another few weeks or so. But Sunday was Kim Little’s time to shine. Kim is an enormously useful player to play against a deep block because of her ability in tight spaces.
? It’s the north London derby…
? It’s Tottenham 0-0 Arsenal…
? Bragging rights are on the line…
Step forward, #CaptainLittle ? pic.twitter.com/2KAZ4eUrzw
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) November 17, 2019
The Scot was able to wriggle away from pressure in the midfield and then carry the ball into the penalty area. Little was a predictable goalscorer as she shimmied and feinted herself some space for a shot from the edge of the area and open the scoring. Having kept Miedema relatively quiet, it was somewhat fitting that when she did get a chance, Spurs gift wrapped it for her via an under hit back pass from Anna Filbey. Viv being Viv, she made no mistake.
Of course Vivianne Miedema's on the scoresheet ?
She pounces on the error to put away Arsenal's second and secure a North London derby win over Tottenham.#FAWSL #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/8Q5xRuSrfI
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) November 17, 2019
A record attendance of 38,262…
Is something to celebrate. Arsenal were involved in the WSL record crowd back in April when 5,265 turned out to watch the Gunners seal the league title at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium. To have nearly eight times that attendance seven months later is quite incredible. Obviously, the fact that it was a North London derby in a new stadium contributed to a lot of that.
To put the rapid growth of women's football in England into perspective …
Cumulative Super League attendance today was 74,247 (including single stadium record of 38,262 at Spurs).
The cumulative WSL attendance across all last season was 107,141
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) November 17, 2019
The challenge is to get even a portion of that attendance back and watching more WSL matches. Arsenal face Bristol City on Thursday evening in the Conti Cup at Boreham Wood and the crowd will almost certainly be under 1,000. The WSL has done very well to use men’s international weekends to host big fixtures in big stadiums. It’s a good start, to create a number of big-ticket events.
The next challenge is to connect the dots so that the matches are not islands and that audiences become literate with the binding ties of the league campaign. Fans need to be invested in the storylines and the characters. That will be the biggest challenge of all, but if you’d told me even a year ago I’d be covering a WSL game that took place in front of nearly 40,000 people I would not have believed you.
Either creepy or patronising. Or both. Congrats.
Oh my dear God…. it’s just a play on words, a JOKE, you politically correct moron. If anyone’s the creep here, it’s you. My head didn’t go there, yours did.
Ps the spuds DJ is good
Yet further reasons to support the greatest (women’s) team the world has ever seen ?
Not really a great game. Tottenham is just an average team. I dont think this is enough to beat PSG.
I thought that we didn’t start the game badly at all. We were dominating in the beginning and seemed to be much better side. Maybe lacked a bit of intensity to really go at them. But the moment Beattie missed the ball and Spurs had THAT oportunity the game changed completely. They got their tales up and we got really nervous. I don’t believe that Walti has ever lost the ball more than in the next 20 minutes in that game. Probably the worst 20 minutes I have ever seen us play (not been following THAT long :), Tim has… Read more »
Yes there have been worse performances but let’s not dwell on those. As you say real champions still win even when they are not at their best and there is certainly more confidence within the team since Joe arrived but I think that the other teams have also improved so the days of averaging 4 goals per WSL game have ended.
One point off the lead with goal difference of +8 after 6 games with a single hiccup at Chelski away is ok for now.
A great football occasion in a magnificent setting. I agree we were not at our fluent best which seems inevitable when your whole squad is cast to the four winds during these interlulls and only have a couple of days to assess fitness and plan for the game. Spuds did their game planning really well particularly the way they “ganged up” on a still recovering Lia Walti (just loved that little touch of team togetherness when DVD put her arm on Lia’s shoulder to encourage her after one of the batterings she took). Anyway, we deserved the win and imo… Read more »
A little afterthought. Why did we have a “short bench” yesterday? Presumably Kat Veje was injured…..?
White hart lane stewards were amazing. We were a bunch of Gooners in a sea of spurs fans, great fun. Crazy to have an away allocation of just 3000 for a showpiece match, should of been closer to 50-50 and they probably could of sold another 10,000.
I bet if we had gold fish playing football and the gold fish Arsenal team played Spurs we would still beat them. ???
They play with passion, they speak like professionals with respect. Seriously, this is real Arsenal football!