Arsenal 4 Everton Women 0 Analysis: Diamonds aren’t forever

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“We felt with a midfield diamond they would be quite narrow centrally, as soon as we got the first pass and they came out with a high line we thought their left-back would get drawn in-field towards one of our 10s and we found space on that side. It was something we prepared because it was one of the outlets we thought we could really exploit.”

So Joe Montemurro told me after the 4-0 victory over Everton on Sunday. I asked the question because it was very noticeable how often Arsenal attacked the Toffees’ left hand side. It was the source of their two opening goals and many other chances beside. Let’s look at how Arsenal killed this game early on by overloading on their right.

With Beth Mead and Lisa Evans on the right, Arsenal had a lot of width on that side of the pitch. On the left, it was slightly different, Jordan Nobbs nominally started there but she played inside of left-back Katie McCabe much more. Overloading the right meant that Nobbs could move into more central areas.

Look at her position as Arsenal build play on the right in the opening seconds. She is not positioned like a left winger at all.

Now look at where she is a few seconds later, the first time that Arsenal possess the ball on the left. She is now positioned much more like a second striker. It is the role Caitlin Foord has been playing for Arsenal in recent weeks, as a left-sided forward with license to move inside. You can already see that Everton’s diamond formation in midfield is struggling to close the gaps and there is plenty of space for Nobbs to run into.

McCabe doesn’t elect to make the pass on this occasion but we see something similar just before Nobbs opens the scoring. Again, Everton’s diamond has been stretched apart like wet tissue paper and Jordan isn’t taking up crossing positions out by the touchline, she is moving into the left half-space and towards the area.

The attack eventually progresses to the right and we can see Lisa Evans and Beth Mead are much more in line with one another. Arsenal want width on this side of the pitch, they want Mead and Evans poised to put the ball into the area.

Sure enough, the ball breaks to Beth and when she whips the ball in, Jordan Nobbs is not standing on ceremony on the left wing or even at the back post, she is attacking the ball and her featherlight touch gives Arsenal the lead.

Because that move started on Arsenal’s left before going over to the right, Everton haven’t clocked that the Gunners are targeting Everton’s left-back. Look at Joe Montemurro talking to Lisa Evans here as the ball trickles out for a throw on the right. He smells blood on that flank.

A few seconds later, Malin Gut picks up the ball in midfield and there is only one area she wants to hit. She opens Everton up with a wonderful lofted ball into their left-back area sending Lisa Evans into space.

It’s not long before Arsenal score a second by attacking Everton’s left-back area again. Leah Williamson wastes no time in playing the ball into that area from the back finding Jill Roord in a frankly ludicrous amount of space.

From there, it’s a simple cross from Roord and a tap-in for Foord. Look again at where Jordan Nobbs’ position as the ball comes in, trying to create an angle for the cutback. Again, this is not the typical area a left-winger would be standing in.

The next time Arsenal work the ball down the right, look again at how connected Beth Mead and Lisa Evans are, almost like players on a fussball table, compared to the left-hand side where Nobbs moves inside every opportunity that she gets.

Once again, here, as soon as the angle is available, Leah Williamson’s first thought is to try to hit that Everton weak spot again. This ball doesn’t quite make it but you appreciate by now that Arsenal’s Plan A is to drop the ball into this area as often as possible.

Arsenal try it once again when they build out from the back in the 25th minute, it’s Malin Gut again who sweeps the ball out to the right but just look at the bottom of the screen. Jill Roord comes short for the pass and drags left-back Danielle Turner all the way to the halfway line and well in-field, leaving lots of space behind her.

The ball finds Mead right out on the touchline and Evans makes an overlapping run. Look at how much space Evans has after just two passes.

Just under ten minutes later we see a similar move, it’s Leah Williamson again who looks to plant the ball into that area of the pitch once more and with one pass she nearly puts Kim Little through on goal in that same area.

It was no surprise that Willie Kirk made a change at half-time, taking off Danielle Turner at left-back and subbing in Poppy Pattinson. Arsenal didn’t get as much change down that side in the second half so there was a tactical irony in their fourth goal.

This time Nobbs picks up the ball more or less where you would expect to see a left-winger. Look at Beth Mead at the bottom of the screen, who can already see the space ahead of her. So too can Jordan. One of the things Arsenal miss most when Jordan doesn’t play is the speed with which she acts, the Gunners can be a bit ponderous at times but Nobbs thinks and acts quickly.

It’s a great pass from Nobbs and Pattinson keeps pace with Mead but there is far too much space for Beth to work with from an Everton perspective. It means Pattinson overcommits to the challenge as Beth chops the ball inside. Pattinson is expecting her to go outside on her favoured right foot. The lack of support around her causes Pattinson to overcommit and she takes herself out of the game, giving Mead space to shoot.

Mead uses Everton defender Damaris Egurrola as a screen for the goalkeeper and Egurrola makes the mistake of turning her back and making herself smaller, allowing Mead to shovel the ball into the far corner and put the seal on a fine day’s work for Arsenal.

With thanks to @miedemastuff for the graphics.

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Peter Story Teller

Thanks Tim a great analysis. A satisfying win but you have to take into account a mis-firing Everton made it easy for us. The only time they looked dangerous is when we gave them the ball in our own area. Even Christiansen looked like she had never played before. I expected much more from them given the start to the season but perhaps the injury curse has moved to Liverpool now!
All we need now is someone to beat Man Utd because while we are worrying about Chelsea and City Utd are running away with it!

Eeleen

I think ManU leading the league is somewhat fixturelist bug… They have to play us, City, Chelsea and Everton away. So all big away games are still left. And annoyingly we were the only ones they won at home. Their next games are Chelsea away and Everton away… after that we know a lot more about how good ManU really is this year.

Armchair

The first goal was just terrible defending by Everton: They had six defenders in the box against 3 Arsenal players and yet no one could block the pass or get in front of Nobbs.

The Mead goal–with her weaker foot—was class, one of the best weak-foot shots I think I’ve ever seen. (She is naturally right-footed, yes? If no, disregard!).

Peter Story Teller

Yes it is her weaker foot and I am surprised she tried it to be honest but goes to show how high her confidence is at the moment.
A surperb strike whichever appendage she used!

Bea W

In the first half I had been yelling “no left foot” at the tv as Beth in the box cut left then right then left then right and didn’t put a cross in with her left foot when she had space but cut outside again and got it blocked with her right. After her goal my girlfriend said to me “no left foot huh?”.

Goonersince55

I’m noticing that there appear to be more two-footed players in women’s football. This weekend I couldn’t help but compare Beth Mead centering for a goal with her right foot and then scoring with her left whilst Nicolas Pépé always cut in from the right in order to use his left foot. And though it pains me to mention a United player, Tobin Heath scored two very good goals, one with each foot. Finally, one-time Gunner Fara Williams is the only footballer I’ve ever seen who can take corners with either foot!

Bea W

Pepe is an egregious example though, he has absolutely no left foot to speak of. And Fara Williams is famously unbelievable with either foot.
But I do wonder if the fact there is more time and space often in the women’s game helps with using their weaker feet.

Ridzwan

At least our women are winning

Nachos in Montreal

This is brilliant

ArsenalOz

After 40+ years of supporting the Arsenal men’s team, as the men’s team look like they can’t be Arsed, I’ve decided I’m only bothering with the Arsenal women’s team from now on:

Arsenal 9, West Ham 1.
Arsenal 6, Reading 1.
Arsenal 4, Sp*rs 0.
Arsenal 3, Liverpool 2.
Arsenal 5, Brighton 0.
Arsenal 6, Sp*rs 1.
Arsenal 4, Everton 0.

Peter Story Teller

It is becoming a common opinion.
Arsenal have 3 out of the top 4 WSL goalscorers and the top 2 leading assist players at the moment.
A few more points might be handy!

Peter Story Teller

Interesting to note that third on the list, Sam Kerr, has 7 goals and zero assists whereas Jill has 7 and 1 while Caitlin has 6 and 5. Suggests to me there is a bit more to our Aussie’s game!
Went under the radar in January when she arrived but she is having a stellar season.

Bea W

Foord is a better winger who can play up front too and Kerr is an out and out striker. Kerr isn’t a brilliant finisher but her movement is so good she will get enough chances to score one or two.

Bea W

playing well vs the big teams is the improvement we need. We won the league losing to Chelsea and City both once. Last season a couple more points in the big games and we at least finish 2nd.

dirk

Everton only came down to London for the Christmas shopping, certainly wasnt for the football, play high line , no pressing from the front, ball over the top, too easy

Armchair

This match was in line with Arsenal’s pattern of breezing by everyone but our chief rivals for league title.

Peter Story Teller

Absolutely Tim. I cannot believe how poor Everton were but we can only beat what is in front of us.
Have to smile at the news that the Spuds star signing, a certain Ms Morgan, is off home again despite the American league players not having to report for pre-season until March.
Arrives unfit after giving birth, plays a handful of games and goes home for Christmas. What was the point of that?

Eeleen

I think we are the most one extreme to another team in the world. We either absolutely destroy teams or loose. There seems to be no middle ground. Everton were poor, but we made them look poor. For me, there isn’t much between Everton and ManU in terms of quality, maybe just Tobin Heath. Everton is a very good team, who beat ManU couple of days ago and we made them look so so bad. I understand that they have some injuries but still. And Everton is not the first really good team, who we destroyd this season. Same with… Read more »

Bea W

that was the point, training and a handful of games to get her to a level of fitness before NWSL. She couldn’t move back in March cos of FIFA registration rules I’d imagine. The plan was always til Xmas. Big media win for the Scum and a little bit of footy for Morgan. Important to remember until she turned up their women’s team was training at the Bees not at the main facility and now they have been more integrated, I’m not saying it’s all that but they have a bigger profile now.

Peter Story Teller

It was meant as sarcasm given the hype and the way that the TV cameras zoomed in on Alex Morgan even when she was a spectator in the stand. Many on here wanted Arsenal to sign some here today gone tomorrow USA superstars as we couldn’t possibly challenge for anything without them.

Bea W

I know MacIver made one big error but she even a 4-0 score line and she looked pretty good and kept it closer than it should have been.

Peter Story Teller

She’s not the finished article yet but she should have a decent future ahead. Still prefer our Fran though!

Chrishgooner

I really enjoyed the direct simplicity of all our goals. Ok Beats header was a real gimme but Joe’s immediate awareness of Everton”s left side Achilles heel was so well executed in the other three goals.
Perhaps Viv’s “rotation” to the bench was a bit of psychology for the rest of the team, “Show us what you can do without her.” The midfield four of Little, Roord, Nobbs and Gut really worked well.
The guile and energy of Little and Nobbs harnessing the dynamic drive of the two youngsters both of whom are going to be key players moving forward.

Bea W

I’ll be honest I thought it would have worked better with Dvd on the wing and Nobbs in midfield.

Richard Vallejo

Can we get joe to coach the first team for the mens side. Jesus the women can really play. Shame we have one good team.

Peter Story Teller

Joe is fortunate in that he has decent players to work with. With the exception of maybe a handful of younger players Mikel does not have that luxury.