Arsenal Women- a summer of evolution

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You will have seen by now that Katrine Veje, Louise Quinn and Pauline Peyraud-Magnin have all announced their departures from Arsenal this summer, with Emma Mitchell set to join them.

There is likely to be another departure announcement or two in the coming days and weeks too. The first thing to say is that there is nothing untoward going on. The departures aren’t linked to the financial situation created by COVID according to my understanding. It’s largely a case of some squad players turning over in search of more regular first team football [though there are nuances in some individual cases, of course].

The second thing to say is that there will be replacements with several signings expected this summer. COVID has created a situation where it is difficult to announce incomings at the moment. There is still not total clarity on whether or when some leagues will finish- the Frauen Bundesliga, for instance, has restarted and any signings from German clubs are therefore delayed until later in the summer. Of the departees, only Katrine Veje has been able to announce her new club so far.

This is the picture across the WSL where very few signings have been announced. For Arsenal, it is still not confirmed that 2019-20 is over until there is a decision on what happens with the remainder of the Champions League season. The Gunners are in the quarter-final stage with a tie against PSG to play.

It is likely that the Champions League will be concluded in one week at the end of August with one legged quarter-final and semi-final ties at neutral venues. A slew of departures is being announced across the league because most contracts expire on June 30th. In July and August, we will see departure announcements replaced by signing announcements.

My understanding is that the size of the Arsenal squad will stay roughly the same [I spoke to Joe Montemurro about his preference for smaller squads full of versatile players in November]. However, while the raw number of players might not change, the squad will, hopefully, still expand in a sense.

I don’t think Arsenal’s squad is as small as people think. The issue has been players who, through no fault of their own, haven’t been available for extended periods of time. Tabea Kemme left earlier this year having made a single substitute appearance in two years at the club, Danielle Carter has been injured for two seasons, Emma Mitchell and Katrine Veje have been unavailable for extended periods too.

That has stretched the squad [again, through no fault of the aforementioned players]. Ultimately, most of the players leaving are doing so because they cannot break into the team and, being quality players, they want to go somewhere where they can get more minutes. The likes of Louise Quinn and Emma Mitchell will have their choice of clubs, I’m sure.

Bringing players into the squad who aren’t injured in the long-term [yet!] multiplies the number of options available to the coach, even if it doesn’t multiply the number of bodies per se. Obviously nobody can forecast with total confidence how signings will work out and it remains to be seen how the incoming players will fare, but there is nothing particularly worrying happening here, it’s just routine squad churn that every squad experiences every couple of summers.

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trugun

Small squads are ok as long as all are fit, but as we saw just before lockdown injuries had decimated our squad to the point where a team of eleven fit players would have been an impossibility. I get Joe prefers small squads but a few more players would alleviate this almost constant worry of players getting injured with hardly anyone with first team experience to replace them.

SLC Gooner

Exactly right. Players will get injured. Arsenal in general seems to have a so-so injury record. Combine that with the situation that women athletes seem to be more vulnerable to knee issues, and the women’s team seems to be in a constant state of risk of not having enough strong players. For a team that has long been the standard-bearer for women’s football, not a great look.

Bea

we got really unlucky with Kemme. A world class talent who just never recovered from her injury. And Dan got so unlucky injuring her other ACL almost immediately. You can’t plan for that level of injury bad luck.

Fun Gunner

Pretty much agree. Instead of thinking of the injury woes of the last few seasons as unusual, I think Joe should treat them as the norm and increase squad size accordingly.

trugun

Tim I agree squad size is a delicate balance but some teams in the men’s game make it work as players understand rotation. This to my mind would allow a squad increase and give all some game time.

Eeleen

But men play about 60 games per season for a club in all competitions, in UK 38 in a league. Women play max about 40 if we get to every final possible, and 22 in a league. So where are much more options for rotation and possibilities to give everyone game time. No player on the level we need our players to be, will be happy to play under 10 league games.

Peter Story Teller

Exactly, you cannot compare the women’s game to the men’s. Different kettle of fish with different requirements. At least we get to play at the same time of year now instead of the stupid summer league idea!

trugun

I take your point but to my mind rotation means competition for places plus we have some players that can play in multiple positions a few more of those to beef up the squad is the sort of idea I’m suggesting.

Peter Story Teller

We understand your rotation point but with so few games in a season you cannot really afford to lose a single match so you have to play your strongest 11 for each game. In order to rotate you would need to have full international players on the bench but then they get fed up and leave at the end of the season due to lack of game time which is exactly what is happening now.   You have to understand there is a different mentality and pay structure between the male and female players. I’d be quite happy to sit… Read more »

Eeleen

This should not be all about numbers. It should also be about quality. I am quite sure that none of those players (besides Flores who is spacial case anyway because she didn’t play a game for Arsenal) will go to the “stronger club” than Arsenal. We were 3rd this year, we have to make our squad stonger. As much as I like Louise as person, games against Chelsea and Liverpool showed, why Arsenal need different/better CB as backup. Veje went to club which is good, but not anyway near the level of Arsenal. These are all good players, but if… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Agree in part, it’s not just how many players you have on the books that matters but neither is it simply signing star names. How many of us had truthfully heard of Lia Walti before she turned out in a Gunners shirt? The way Joe wants to play requires a particular brand of player that can understand and fully commit to the system and it is not in every player’s repertoire particularly if they have made their name through playing in a certain style in a conventional 4-4-2 or whatever set up.

Eeleen

Yes and no. Ofcorse players have to fit for coach, and Chelsea signing I am most jealous of is Reiten not Kerr and Citys is Hemp not White. But in reality Joe has been here for 2,5 years and only Lia has been his signing that can be said is absolute success. Beats probably also if she can stay fit next year. From our last years potential starting 11 only 3 have been signed by Joe – Manu, Beats and Lia. Maybe Caitlin also next year. All others are not chosen by him. For me he has made lot of… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

I have not seen anything from Kerr yet that makes me sit up and take notice. In fact, that was the player I had in mind as a big reputation signing but does she fit in at WSL? From what I have seen, I would question if she would fit in at Arsenal but she certainly would not play under Joe anyway. In my opinon while Kerr and Beth England grab the headlines Chelsea won WSL because of Reiten and Berger.   Lauren Hemp has had a great season. So much so that even Numpty Neville recognised it by giving… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Oops! Forgot Jordan in my list of half-decent inherited players! Sorry Jordan 🙂

Eeleen

For me we are overrating our current squad, which as fans we should do. But for winning stuff we have to make our squad better and that’s why I like the turnover of players we are seeing right now despite how much I like certain players.   How many and which of our players would start for City/Chelsea? We have the worst goalkeeper out of those teams. Manu is really good as ball player, but Berger won Chelsea a cup final and Roebuck saved City a second place in the league. Manu didn’t lose us any games (chelsea away maybe),… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

I blame the coaching staff a bit for the Chelsea loss rather than blaming Manu entirely since after losing the flight of the ball in the sun for the first goal they should have found her a baseball cap or something not simply allow us to be 2-0 down for the same reason before we had even started playing.

Armchair

That first Chelsea loss seemed fluky, I thought. The sun cleared played a role in one and maybe two of their early goals, while the 3rd was the wonder strike. Arsenal can compete with Chelsea as we showed in the last game against them, which we mostly bossed. We’ve got a lot of talent–but have to be healthy. Is Arsenal trying to sign Bronze? Someone wrote today that she’s been working out at ManCity, and he thinks that is where she’ll end up.

eldanielfire

It’s more then that against Chelsea, they ahve our number physically and play at a pace our players struggle with in defence. Also for all our nice play, arsenal are slow, without our Irish and Scottish forwards we often get stuck with Viv stiffled against quality side and the midfields having no one to ping it too. The team looks like to have the flaws of late Wenger years. Sometimes you need to be able to counter at pace.