Thursday, August 18, 2022

Arsenal Women- The Complete Guide

Who?
Just the most successful women’s team in England and one of the biggest women’s football brands in the world. Arsenal Women have won the league title 15 times (more than anyone else), the FA Cup 14 times (more than anyone else) and 15 League Cups (more than anyone else). They are also the only British team to win the Champions League, having won the trophy in 2006-07. Thanks largely to Vic Akers and David Dein, Arsenal made the women’s team a priority well before there was much PR or financial kudos for doing so.

Arsenal are considered part of the big three in the Women’s Super League with Chelsea and Manchester City. They last won the league title in 2018-19 since and have finished 3rd twice without winning a trophy- for Arsenal Women this represents a vast under delivery on the talent they have. This summer previous boss Joe Montemurro stepped down and was replaced in the hotseat by 38-year-old Swede Jonas Eidevall, who joined this summer from Rosengard.

Who plays for them now?
You could read our in-depth player by player squad profile here if you so please. If you are looking for the abbreviated version, here are just four of the most recognisable players.

Vivianne Miedema– the best striker in the world bar none. The record goal scorer in the WSL, she has 94 goals in 105 appearances for the club. Miedema also broke the Netherlands goal scoring record before her 23rd birthday and, this summer, smashed the record for goals scored in a single Olympics tournament with 10 (the previous record was six). All this and she would tell you that she doesn’t even consider herself as an out and out striker, her creative numbers are up there with any no.10 you can name. A handful of strikers are close to her goal scoring numbers, a handful of creative players are close to her creative numbers. Nobody, but nobody else, does both.

Kim Little– Scottish midfielder and club captain, Little joined Arsenal as a teenager from Hibernian where she carved out a reputation as one of the finest number 10s in world football. She spent three years at Seattle Reign from 2014 – 2017 where she maintained and enhanced that reputation. Two-time gold medalist and one-time World Cup winning goalkeeper Hope Solo maintains that “Kim is the best player I ever played with.” Hope Solo played with EVERYBODY and she hates EVERYBODY. It’s hard work to get a compliment from her. Kim has dropped slightly deeper in midfield nowadays where her close control and ball manipulation enables her to control the midfield. Kim could dribble her way past an army in a phone box. She is enormously respected by fellow professionals for her talent and her immense dedication. Kim is viewed by pretty much everyone as the model professional.

 

Jordan Nobbs– 11 years an Arsenal player and a decade s a regular in the heart of midfield. Nobbs is a road-runner style number 8 who can do a bit of everything- really quickly and really precisely. She adds a shot of adrenaline into Arsenal’s play and remains England’s best midfielder and Arsenal’s most loyal player.

Leah Williamson– Centre-half and lifelong Arsenal fan, Leah wears the shirt with distinction and not just because of her connection as a fan. Williamson is the archetypal ball playing centre-half. Comfortable in midfield too, Leah is also an outstanding one-on-one defender. With Danielle van de Donk departed for Lyon, she always tops the “most likely to spontaneously combust in the presence of the referee following a contentious call” charts.

Which competitions do they play in?
The league is called the Women’s Super League, where there are 12 teams in total: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Reading, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.

There is also the Women’s FA Cup– confusingly, last season’s competition was held up due to COVID, so the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be played before Christmas this year. Arsenal play Sp*rs at home in the 2020-21 quarter-final on September 29th. Otherwise, it starts for Arsenal in January at the 4th Round stage.

Arsenal are currently competing in the Qualifying rounds for the group stages of this year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League. There is also the Continental Tyres Cup, a competition for the top two divisions, which has a group stage pre-Christmas, before the tournament is split into a knockout tournament at the quarter-final stage from January. It is the equivalent of the League Cup. Again, slightly confusingly, if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League group stages, they will be given a bye to the quarter-finals.

Where do they play?
They play at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park stadium in Hertfordshire a stone’s throw from the Elstree television studios are based, where British flagship soap Eastenders is filmed and where Channel 4’s Big Brother house was once located. (Top of the Pops, ‘Allo ‘Allo and Grange Hill were also filmed here once upon a time). The site was also used to make the original Star Wars movie and Indiana Jones.

How do I get there?
The nearest train station is Elstree & Borehamwood which runs on the Thameslink line. It’s a 22-minute journey north from St. Pancras Interntional, you can also get trains directly from Gillingham, Luton, Sutton and Brighton.

From Elstree & Borehamwood station, the ground is a ten-minute walk and, en route, every single eatery you can imagine lines the high street. To get to the stadium from the station walk towards the main road and turn right and then keep walking down the High Street until you find McDonalds, when you see the Golden Arches, hook a left and you will see the stadium floodlights.

If all that walking leaves you in need of a beer, there are three choices. The Alfred Arms at the top of the high street nearest to the station- be warned, it’s a bit Spursy as pubs go (Borehamwood is a Spursy area). The Wishing Well is on your left about half-way between the High Street and the stadium. Perfectly fine if you are happy with three commercial lagers or a Guinness. The Hart and Spool is the closest to the ground, it’s a Wetherspoons on the right-hand side of the High Street just before you reach McDonalds.

If you want to drive to Borehamwood, you’d be better asking someone with a driving license. Or just stick your SatNav on. It’s only Hertfordshire. There is a car park at Meadow Park directly outside the ground.

How do I get tickets?
Become bffs with Kyle Jenner? In seriousness, the best way is to buy online in advance because they are cheaper that way. It’s £8 for adults and £4 concessions that way, otherwise you can buy on the gate for £12 adults and £6 concessions. For the bigger games it’s best not to chance buying on the gate as the stadium gets closer to capacity.

Otherwise, you can buy a membership which is essentially a season ticket with some extras (like player Q&As) thrown in. Memberships are £80 for adults and £40 concessions, unless you want to reserve your own seat in the main stand, in which case it’s £100 for adults and £50 concessions. A membership gets you into all 11 WSL home games and two additional home cup ties.

What is Meadow Park like?
Like most National League grounds, it is a mixture of standing- behind both of the goals- and seating in the East and West Stands. The stadium has slowly undergone a facelift in recent years, with the new North Stand- known as ‘The North Bank’ since Arsenal contributed towards the costs- and the West Stand was refurbished a few years ago. Most regulars either stand in the North Bank, or else sit behind the dugouts in the East Stand near the players’ tunnel.

 

The East Stand used to be the most likely place to interact with the players as they emerged from the tunnel and stayed around for selfies and autographs after matches. Pre-covid, Arsenal started advising players and fans to go to the North Bank for this kind of interaction and I would expect that to continue this season. Players always, always stay after games to sign autographs and pose for selfies with fans (though obviously due to covid that might not be the case at the start of this season).

What is their fixture list looking like for this season?
*Plays intro to Aerosmith and Run DMC’s ‘Walk This Way’*

I can’t get to the games, can I watch them on TV or online?
You certainly can, every single WSL match is broadcast in one way or another. In the UK, Sky Sports and BBC share the rights to live games but every single game that isn’t picked up by one of those broadcasters is shown live on the FA Player app, which is free to download, all you need to do is register an account here. The FA Player also carries all match highlights from around midday the day after a game.

The FA Player shows all games in all territories (except for Australia, more on that anon) unless there is a local broadcaster showing the game in your region. In the US, NBC will be showing 50 live games from the WSL this season across NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, NBCSN and atafootball. Sky Mexico will provide live coverage in Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic while Scandinavian broadcaster NENT will serve live coverage in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Optus Sports carries the rights to 50 WSL games in Australia, The FA Player is geoblocked in Australia and Optus Sports is the only outlet that carries WSL coverage. Every Thursday, Optus also carries a WSL magazine show called ‘Women’s Football Oz Style’ hosted by Alicia Ferguson. DAZN selects certain games for online broadcast in Italy and Germany. In Canada, Sportsnet carry the rights to 50 live games as well as the FA Cup semi-finals and final.

Just remember, every game not carried by a broadcaster in your region is carried by the FA Player app and isn’t geoblocked except for in Australia. The Women’s Champions League games are all broadcast free of charge on DAZN’s YouTube channel from the group stage onwards. The FA Cup games tend to be shown on the FA Player.

Do the women’s team ever play at the Emirates?
Infrequently. Their home is Meadow Park which, with a 4,000 capacity, is far more suitable for them at the moment. However, they will play at least two WSL games at Emirates Stadium this season. They play their opening match of the season against Chelsea on September 5th there and tickets are on general sale here.

They will also play Sp*rs at Emirates Stadium on March 27th at Emirates Stadium. Assuming the team qualifies for the group stage of the Champions League, one of the home games from the group is also likely to be played at the men’s stadium (Arsenal would be unseeded in the group stage so would be guaranteed a European heavyweight).

What kind of coverage can I expect on Arseblog News?
The best and most dedicated coverage of the women’s team, of course! We have match previews for every single fixture, we also speak to Head Coach Jonas Eidevall after every match and post a transcript on the site right after the games. We have opinion articles, news and often we get transfer news ahead of time (we can’t always be explicit with it but we have been known to drop hints!)

We also have a twice monthly podcast with Tim Stillman, Alex Ibaceta and Pippa Monique. One of these tends to focus on wider issues in women’s football or at Arsenal Women, while the other tends to be a mailbag episode. We also get exclusive player interviews that you won’t find anywhere else. Around 24 hours after every WSL match, there are match analysis pieces featuring graphics from the excellent @Miedemastuff.

Arseblog News also buys article images direct from photographers that cover pretty much every Arsenal Women match. We are working on adding some more bows and ribbons to the coverage this season, which we will be about to tell you about in due course.

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Loris

Just wondering, if you bought the season tickets for £80, will you be given the tickets to the 2 Emirates game?

Tim Stillman

Yes

Loris

Thanks

WayBackWhen

Thanks Tim. Really looking forward to this season, especially with the enhanced TV coverage and then the Euros here next summer. It’ll be tempting to say that the Women’s team will be a balm to the pain in the men’s game but that would be a massive disservice to this impressive squad from a club of unrivalled heritage. I’ve become increasingly interested in this aspect of the game, particularly as it becomes ever more competitive and as standards rise (in the officiating as well as the playing). Have to say your coverage has been immensely helpful in my education but… Read more »

Daniel

Great summary but I take some offence at Borehamwood being described as a spursy area 😭🤣 Despite being local tomorrow is my first time seeing the women at meadow Park

WayBackWhen

Birthplace of Gunnerblog.

Dr Zebra

Haha I thought James was “from” Gunnerblog…

Henkamp

Second half of the season will be tough. Away trips to Chelsea, City, and Everton! Hope we start really well.

Elise

excited for (even) more coverage on here for the women’s team!!

Gunner H

Thoroughly superb article, Tim – I have a feeling that this season may be rather special given the significantly improved squad & fresh management. Viv will move on next summer even if we win the CL – but so she should as she must broaden both her career & life experience. Accordingly, an amazing final 2021/22 season beckons from our Viv, I reckon. Our number 1 asset remains Kim, in my opinion, as exemplified by her starring role at the Olympics, where she should have been appointed sole captain. I loved your summary of her though you omitted the fact… Read more »

Gooner de Tijuana

COYG! Excited to see what Parris and Mana bring to the team.

Sir TY Duncan

Terrific article Tim, been following the Woman’s game since their inception in 87 with Vic Akers as the gaffer back then and was really happy to see that their matches now are getting the TV exposure they so richly deserve. The last few seasons with under Pedro and Joe saw us fall behind Chelski and Citeh as they were the teams to beat and we always seem to lose to only just them but I feel with the appointment of Jonas Eidevall and what I have seen of the 4 matches played this preseason and in the CL play-off matches… Read more »

Dr Zebra

Thank you so much Tim for all of your hard work and dedication. And to arseblog for creating a space for the Women’s team news. It’s because of your reporting and podcasts and interviews that I know all I do about the WSL and the Arsenal women and can’t wait to see them in action this season!

Dapo

Does the season ticket cover tomorrow’s game at Borehamwood?

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