On a very busy summer ahead for Arsenal Women

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Arsenal Women finished the season with a comfortable 9-0 victory against Crystal Palace, bringing down the curtain on Joe Montemurro’s three-and-a-half year reign in the process. After a very difficult winter, the Gunners managed to pip Manchester United to third place and Champions League qualification and they are safely through to the FA Cup quarter-finals which will take place in September.

However, while the on-pitch action is over until August, there is a lot of admin for Arsenal to get through. First and foremost they need to appoint a new Head Coach. Montemurro announcing his decision to step down in March has bought the club time to search for a successor. It is understood by Katie Whyatt of the Athletic that Arsenal are constructing a three-strong shortlist this week. Hopefully we ought to get confirmation of an appointment by the end of the month.

Personally, I have heard absolutely no whispers whatsoever around the identity of any of the applicants, this is a process that is being handled by Vinai Venkatesham and Edu and it will be kept pretty clandestine I would imagine. News of Joe Montemurro’s appointment in 2017 was broken by journalists in Joe’s native Melbourne, I would expect a similar scenario here, where, if the news breaks at all, it will be broken by sources close to the new manager.

There have been additions to the backroom staff during the season and recently the club have advertised for a Head of Medicine and Sports Science and a Player Liaison Officer and there will be further backroom positions advertised in the coming weeks. It is unclear what the future holds for the current coaching staff, including Joe’s assistant and confidant Aaron D’Antino, whose video analysis background has been a crucial part of Montemurro’s match preparation. Assistant coach Leanne Hall has also been a crucial member of the backroom team.

There will be some player churn this summer as there always is and as there is at every club. Manchester United and Manchester City will need to replace Heath, Press, Mewis and Lavelle, with United also expected to lose Lauren James and Jess Sigsworth. One look at the squad that won the title two years ago will show that van Veenendaal, Veje, Arnth, Carter, Peyraud-Magnin, Quinn, Janssen, Kemme and Samuelsson have all since departed. In women’s football, where contracts are short, turnover is par the course.

That said, the outgoings will require replacements. With Jill Roord’s departure already announced and Malin Gut, Leonie Maier and Danielle van de Donk expected to follow, the new coach will need to recruit quickly. The signing of Mana Iwabuchi from Aston Villa has been in train for a while but, as far as I know, all other incomings will be contingent on the new manager.

There are also key contractual situations that need sorting, Leah Williamson’s deal is up this summer, while Vivianne Miedema has one year left on her contract. At the moment there is no information to suggest either will leave this summer but it is unlikely that the long-term future of either will be crystalised until the new manager is in place.

Then there is the actual football! This summer, Arsenal will have players at the Tokyo Olympics with Japan, Team GB, Netherlands and Australia all involved. The tournament takes place from 21st July until 6th August. Arsenal’s first Champions League qualifier will take place on 18th August.

The Gunners will be seeded for the first round of qualifiers (the League Path) and the runners-up from Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Scotland, Russia and Belarussian leagues and the third placed teams from France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Czech Republic all enter at this stage. These 16 teams will be split into four mini-tournaments comprising two games. Since Arsenal will be seeded for the first qualifying round, they are likely to draw weaker opponents.

They will play qualifiers on 18th and 21st August at a neutral venue. One would expect them to come through this round. The second qualifying phase is where things get trickier- Arsenal would not be seeded when the four teams that qualify from the first phase go into a draw with the runners-up from Germany, France, Spain, Sweden and Czech Republic. (Manchester City also enter the qualifying phase at this point but Arsenal can’t be drawn against them).

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for Arsenal to draw Lyon (currently 2nd in France) or Wolfsburg (currently 2nd in Germany). This will be a two-legged qualifier played home and away, with the first leg on 31st August / 1st September and the second leg on 8th / 9th September. If Arsenal make it to the group stage, they will also be unseeded, so could expect a tough group.

The new manager will be greeted with quite the in-tray upon arrival, they will need to recruit quickly and will have to face up to the fact that a large portion of the squad won’t have much of a pre-season with them. In effect, the Olympics and the first two Champions League qualifiers will constitute pre-season for a lot of players.

It could be a very busy autumn with the Conti Cup group stages, this season’s FA Cup to conclude and a potential six games in the Champions League group stage, there will be no let-up. Enjoy the relative quiet for now because pretty soon, 2021-22 will kick into warp speed.

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IGtheshy

Sounds like a lot of stuffs needed to be done. Just hope that Arsenal can sort out the managerial situation ASAP and hope Leah and Viv signs.

Eeleen

My main worry with this summer is that we are already too late to maximize the incomings. A lot of big names who are moving this summer, have already made the decisions where to go and we don’t have a manager, who should be able to convince players to join. Kumagai, Rolfõ, Engen and so on will not wait until Arsenal have manager. If we get the coach in for the beginning of June, we don’t have much choice for players left in the free transfers market. Let’s hope that the club is willing to back him/her if we need… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Looking at the potential fixture list September to December we are going to need 4 solid players in each position to allow for injuries and rotation as the same 11 are not going to be able to play 3 games a week for months on end.

Eeleen

But in reality it will not work like that. We have enough games in September to have 4 players for same position, but rest of the season, we don’t have. No world class player will come to be our 3rd backup or only to play in ContiC. 10 games a season does not develop or satisfy any player. We need to fix our injury situation. But in the end every good team has first 11 with 6-7 rotation options. Chelsea has the deepest team, but they also have first 11 with couple of rotation players and they rotate only in… Read more »

Armchair

I don’t buy this idea that Montemurro was the reason Arsenal lost to its big rivals. I’m not saying Monte is infallible or didn’t make mistakes, not at all, but the fact is, ManCity and Chelsea added some horses to their already formidable squads while Arsenal’s most notable signing was out for practically the entire season. So we had zero major additions to the team. What’s more, we were missing Little in at least two if not more of the matches against the Big Three–as well as Beattie, Maritz, others– and were playing very inexperienced Gut and Wuben-Moye (rookie) in… Read more »

trugun

Look at the comments by Kim Little on Malin Gut and you will realise she is anything but inexperienced, she is a top class midfielder and if she leaves, (injury notwithstanding) she will be snapped up by a top club. Lotte Wubben Moy is certainly not a rookie Lottie came through the Arsenal ranks as a youngster and then a few years ago gained further experience in the American college system, before coming back to us. Losing to Chelsea and Man city cannot IMO be laid at the door of either of these two players. If I remember correctly Joe… Read more »

Mc Maazi

Does United has a manger yet

Peter Story Teller

Surprised DvD is on the ‘also expected to leave’ list. I could understand based on the first half of the season where she was not being played and was very out of salts, but in the last few matches her old self appeared to have returned. I am not cynical enough to suggest she was putting herself in the shop window. I do hope she stays as I believe she is still capable of offering plenty to the team. The unfortunate thing is, for Arsenal to compete with the best in WSL never mind the rest of Europe, the squad… Read more »

Pescetarian

I will be so gutted if she leaves, she’s a top player and has given us so many moments of genius.

Peter Story Teller

First job for new manager is to find some midfielders. I know we should have Ruby back but with Jill gone, possibly DvD, Malin was going but even is she doesn’t she is out for the season with an ACL anyway which leaves us cobbling things together when Kim, Jordan and Wally need a rest.
Things are very quiet regarding Viki too. Where’s she at, Tim?

Armchair

Apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I read today that Lyon are interested in signing DVD and Rolfo (from Wolfsburg). Not sure if there is any truth to the rumor.

Tim Stillman

I don’t know about Rolfo but it’s true with DvD. They made her an offer a little while ago.

Peter Story Teller

Who’d want to go to in decline Lyon? Their full backs returned to Man City, PSG have shown them up this season, and they didn’t even make the Champions League Final never mind win it…. Again! 🙂

Peter Story Teller

As for management can we have Laura Harvey, Carla Ward, and Mary Phillip on the short list please?
My worry is how much do Vinai and Edu actually know about women’s football to be entrusted with making the correct appointment?

Eeleen

For me it is so difficult to judge coaching quality in womens game. There are very few teams where team’s level is bigger than talent level this team has. In WSL I would say only ManU and Birmingham were teams what were clearly better than their talent level. Casey is going to US, so not an option. Carla Ward is very interesting, but it is completly different to make bottom of the table team compact, compared to top of the table team. So I would have no clue how she would work in team like Arsenal. In Europe only Barca.… Read more »

Fun Gunner

Excellent points. But Laura Harvey is proven. But also highly unlikely to leave her current job. (sigh)

Fun Gunner

<i>this is a process that is being handled by Vinai Venkatesham and Edu</i>

Words that struck fear into my heart also. Let’s hope they take advice from the right people.

Peter Story Teller

Well that’s Carla Ward off the list then!
We cannot afford to procrastinate for too long!

Richard

What can we do to make sure DVD doesn’t leave? I love watching her play

Fun Gunner

Everyone loves watching DvD, but her departure is probably a done deal.

alex m

That is quite the job for whoever the newcomer is! Really hope Miedema extends, but feel like she should be leading the line for the very best in the world…

Gunner H

With Viv, Kim, Leah and Lia, along with a decent manager plus 2 or 3 quality recruits, we can still be the best in the world – let’s look on the bright side in accordance with the wisdom of Eric Idle 🙂

Grymelock

Real shame about DVD, she is one of my favourite players, but I suppose it isn’t much of a surprise given she’s struggled to get into the team and hasn’t made much of an impact when she came in. I wonder how this will affect Beth Mead?

Dominique Janssen was my favourite player, too, and her move also came out of the blue. It’s like a curse! 😬

Peter Story Teller

Please don’t have any more favourite players we’d quite like to hang on to them! 🙂

Lamzo

So Lyon is linked with DVD now, and possibly Rolfo is head there as well. Arsenal need to get a manager and start recruiting otherwise all the available players will find new homes.

Jie

“Danielle van de Donk expected to follow“

No! Why!