Arsenal Women- time to grasp the gauntlet

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Yesterday was a heavy news day for Arsenal Women, to say the least. The long awaited news that Leah Williamson has extended her contract with the club was finally announced. The news has been a long time coming with Leah, a lifelong Arsenal fan and academy product, seeking reassurances over the level of the club’s ambition.

That, in itself, is concerning for Arsenal fans. Leah Williamson is not someone that should need convincing to extend her contract at the club. I spoke to the 24-year old yesterday and she was candid about her thought process. The contract extension is only for 12 months at this stage too, her last deal was for three years.

“I had to weigh up whether Arsenal has the ambition that matches my own, do we want to be a team that is competing, can we compete? Those were the things that, I wasn’t so much waiting on as I wanted to confirm,” Leah told Arseblog News.

The new manager is not yet confirmed though, from what I gather, an appointment has been made and could be announced soon. I also asked Leah whether she had contact with the new coach and she said she hadn’t been able to but that she had spoken to Vinai Venkatesham, “I have been in regular contact with Vinai and those people higher up in the club because they understood where I was at. Every player needs that sort of information if they are about to sign a new contract.”

Later in the conference, in response to questions from other journalists, Leah talked about “paying back some of the faith the club put in me” and “the club showing the ambition it says it has.” The message seems to be clear that Leah has committed for 12 months and needs to be convinced by Arsenal to commit further.

A lot of that might well come down to the new manager and how well Leah hits it off with them. A lot of it might come down to the outcome of the much touted internal review at Arsenal Women as the club seek to fix elements of their structure that have clearly broken in the last two years.

Meanwhile, yesterday the news also broke that Arsenal are close to agreeing a deal for Nikita Parris from Lyon. There were some reports earlier in the summer that a swap deal with Lyon for Miedema might be on the cards. My understanding is that this deal would not be a swap and that Miedema will likely stay for this season.

Viv’s contract expires next summer and her message is pretty clear too, she is not in an outrageous hurry to leave the club but she too wants to be convinced of their ambition. Next summer, hers and Leah’s deals will expire, as will Jordan Nobbs’ contract. That constitutes arguably Arsenal’s three biggest players.

All of them have shown loyalty and Arsenal have some space now to demonstrate their plans to keep up with Manchester City and Chelsea and compete to win the Champions League. If the players are not convinced, they will probably leave, it’s that simple. And no Arsenal fan should be under any illusions as to why or where the fault lines would lie.

This is, in my view, a really good squad that has enough to compete for the league title and Iwabuchi and Parris are / would be impressive additions to the attack. But Manchester City and Chelsea will keep escalating their investment and there are clearly some elements behind the scenes at Arsenal that were unsatisfactory last season.

Historically, Arsenal have been the standard bearers for women’s football in the UK but the future comes quickly and Arsenal’s executive layer has to prove that they have serious plans to keep it that way- to the fans and, most clearly, to the players. The gauntlet is at their feet.

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Marieke

I’m actually quite happy she only signed 1 year. It puts the ball in Arsenals court. Their choice now. Don’t invest and up the ambition and lose Viv, Leah and Jordan. Or actually do it and go for it.

Downside is that I’ll definitely start to grow quite a few grey hairs come April…

Peter Story Teller

I don’t have much hair left and what I do have is many tones lighter than it once was but I think what Leah and Viv (by keeping out of discussion about her future) is very canny. It is time for the Arsenal management to step up and deliver what they say is their goal. Talk is cheap and easy but action is considerably more difficult! Without suitable action, however, there shall be a mass exodus of top quality players at the end of next season and we have already seen what happened at Liverpool, as a recent example, and… Read more »

Eeleen

Good – we have world class players who actually want to be here. Bad – we have world class players, who club can’t convince to stay here, despite them wanting to stay here. Arsenal FC is a weird football club.

Peter Story Teller

Here’s one for you, Tim. Is there relevance to all of the Leah’s new contract publicity photos being taken outside Highbury rather than the Emirates, Meadow Park or the training ground?
Perhaps I am reading too much into it???
Just struck me as peculiar and if they hadn’t built residences on it what a great home ground Highbury would have been for Arsenal Women!

Maul Person

Convert Highbury back into a stadium and make it the Arsenal Women’s home? Interesting idea. Shame it would never happen.

dirk

Will Sky TV be stipulating that televised games to be played at the main stadium ?

St.macca

I realise this is gonna be an incredibly unpopular and some would say outdated view but I find it difficult to get enthused about woman’s football and Arsenal woman in particular, I mean i wish them well and it always pleases me to see anything positive connected with Arsenal but the teams results and performances are of no more than passing interest. I have tried, I have watched a few games and the standard is good on the whole but it definitely lacks something, the lack of fans doesn’t help, it seems odd to see elite sport played in front… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Each to their own! Personally I have very little interest in the men’s game these days despite being a season ticket holder back in the heady days of the early 1970’s. I have not seen any of the Euros matches and beyond a passing note that Wales have done well so what?
I am not critical of you not being interested in the women and I am certain that you can accept that I am not interested in the mens’ teams. There is space for everyone. 🙂

St.macca

Absolutely, it is not my intention to offend or provoke, I feel bad about my lack of enthusiasm, I appreciate how hard these girls work and the people around the woman’s game generally, maybe I should try harder.

verstellung

Agree with PST, I follow the Women much closer.
Living in the States, 7 hours time difference, I gladly wake up at 05:30 or 07:00 on a Sunday morning to watch the women, on my phone none the less.
The men lately?… I might go back and watch a recorded game, but more likely not.

trugun

“I have watched a few games and the standard is good on the whole” . Which is more than can be said for that shambles of a men’s team, first watched Arsenal when Billy Wright was the manager so I’ve seen a few teams in my time good and bad, towards the end of the Wenger era I got so fed up with the lack of drive and commitment, but then found it again in the Women’s team, the will to win stood out. Given the right venue I believe the crowds will increase along with the standards, lets face… Read more »

Eeleen

Also not my inention to offend or provoke, but why do you feel the need to post about that? There are about milion things in the world that I am not interested in or enthused by, but I would never go to a space dedicated to that thing to comment and announce my non interest. If I am not interested, I am not in that space. I can’t for the life of me figure out why womens football is a thing there people have to announce their non-interest. Nobody has to be enthused by anything in their life and we… Read more »

Billy bob

Yeah Eeleen makes a good point lol your comment would be like me popping up on a motorbike chat room and asking what is the point in motorbikes 🤣

Fun Gunner

Thanks for sharing. I don’t usually bother to go onto a blogsite and leave a comment about how I don’t care about the subject of the blog, but hey, perhaps that’s just me. If it’s not your bag, no problem. In all seriousness, it seems to me that what you are asking is what is the point of football for women. Well, same as men’s football – we love football and the players love it so much that they make huge sacrifices to play a game which still, mostly, barely covers expenses. (Most of the women’s league is amateur, only… Read more »

Fun Gunner

**most of the football pyramid**, not the league

St.macca

All very valid points, I will bear that in mind before commenting on posts in the future, I the meantime I will make a point of attending fixtures in the coming season.

Teta's cult of personality

I think the marketing and structuring of women’s football is why it feels alien to you. You’re arguably more accustomed to the force-fed promotions that are common in men’s football. Take for example BBC News at 10. In the sports segment, They’ll show you some of the goals scored in the last men’s matches and then newscaster tells you too stay tuned for the weather followed by Match of the Day. Meanwhile they don’t show scores from the women’s game nor do they mention the Women’s Football Show (which comes on at midnight after MOTD) There’s not yet enough signposting… Read more »

dirk

The league structure needs to change, firstly 2 down with the 2nd team have a relegation off against the championship play off winner , who would be 2-5 or 2-7 finals ala mens national league
hopefully the next TV deal will want the league to expand the number of teams in WSL

Fun Gunner

Thanks, Tim. This is crunch time. But as I keep saying, the main ingredients needed are commitment to and respect for the women’s side, not masses of cash. We can’t predicate our future success on outspending City and Chelsea because they have access to their owners’ billions. We can think creatively, maximise our value as an environment to improve, ensure access to our wonderful facilities in practice, not just in theory, be the classy club that Vic Akers started. We should offer players something that is unique in women’s football. Of course money comes into it, but that’s an arms… Read more »

Armchair

ManCity have signed Shaw–a coup for that club, IMO.

Gunner H

I feel that a crucial criteria is for the players to train on quality i.e. unlikely to cause injury, training facilities / grounds. We now have a first class squad in all areas to be able to compete with Chelsea and City. I feel confident that the new soon-to-be-revealed manager will bring out significant improvements in Jordan, Danielle & Beth. Jill Roord & DvD are in the Dutch First Eleven and neither performed to their peak with Arsenal last season…………

Gunner H

Once again, another excellent article from Tim. I am absolutely delighted that our hopefully future captain, Leah has signed & agree it’s preferable for 1 year only initially. Quite pleased about Nikita, let’s see how she fits in. But Arsenal’s “three biggest players” – our top player is our captain and leader by supreme example & the World Player of the Year in 2016. Remember Leah’s words after the Spurs game at the new stadium, that she loved to watch Kim (and Viv) work their magic up front. And I recall Jordan saying on TV after Kim’s injury against Chelsea,… Read more »

Chris

Great article. Accepting that the gauntlet has been laid before pthe Club, “to match the ambitions” of key players, I am utterly confused by who is supposed to be picking up the gauntlet for the Club. Josh Kroenke ( once he’s explained to his old man that women play soccer)? Edu? Venkatesham? Where is the input from anyone who knows anything about womens football? Come to think of it of it, apart from Edu, where is the input from anyone who knows anything about football as a sport. Surely the commercial people here can see that it would take as… Read more »