Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Video: Squad building – the more the merrier

Now that the likes of Alessia Russo, Cloé Lacasse and Amanda Ilestedt have been welcomed into the fold, Tim Stillman takes a look at the motivations behind Arsenal’s transfer activity this summer and why squad depth has never been more important.

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Don’t enjoy saying I told you so but I made these points before the season started, when you suggested that we only need 20/21 players.

Fun Gunner

No need to vote this comment down – it’s true. (Although perhaps not tactful to mention it…)


I held my tongue for an entire season. Wasn’t even going to saying anything but it felt weird when Tim didn’t acknowledge that he’s changed his opinion from last summer. Also, down votes don’t mean anything.

Tim Stillman

I did not say that, I felt the squad was too small last season and said so. Jonas Eidevall himself said the squad was too small the day after the window shut. There is a good reason that I asked him the question after both transfer windows last season, because I knew the club missed several targets. I wrote about not having any sort of back up for Beth. You’ve completely imagined this.


AINTNOWAY!!! You’re completely denying it now… In the June 2022 mailbag, you said the squad was too big and in women’s football there’s not enough games to give 25 international players football. You continued in the comment of that podcast to say, ” My take is that a 21-22 player squad is perfect. Under Joe it was probably 19-20 and under Jonas it’s been about 25, which I think is a smidgen too big.” https://arseblog.news/2022/06/arsenal-women-arsecast-episode-45-june-mailbag/#comment-1411059 What you neglected to notice or mention from that season is that we had to play academy players because of how bad the injuries were.… Read more »

Tim Stillman

Yes, it was too big in 2021-22, hence loads of unused players. Arsenal bought three players in January 2022 and didn’t sell any, that made the squad too big with too many players who weren’t used. Last season it was too small. Believe it or not, squads can be too big and too small, that is possible.

Tim Stillman

I do think 22 is about the perfect size, yes. In 2021-22 it was 25, last season it was 20 (probably more like 19). That’s why there is divergence there, because there are numbers between 20 and 25.


At this point I think we have accepted that we’re second best and have no ambitious of ever winning the quadruple again. 22 squad players is not enough for winning multiple titles in one season. That’s just my opinion.


That’s contradictory to the sentiments made in the video of matching Chelsea’s squad, which has always been 25 international players.

We cannot say “the more the merrier”, and say 25 is too big.

Tim Stillman

Here’s an article I wrote reviewing the January transfer window https://arseblog.news/2023/02/arsenal-women-january-transfer-window-review/ ‘ it is difficult not to be pessimistic about the impact of losing Mead and Miedema without a prolific striker coming into the squad. It’s very rare that teams lose their two most consistent sources of goals and come out unscathed. ’ This is a piece I wrote a couple of days before the end of the summer window https://arseblog.news/2022/08/arsenal-women-transfer-window/ In it, I said we needed another right winger and back up to Lia Wälti. We got neither. I felt the squad was two players short and absolutely repeatedly… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Nice one, Tim.
Perhaps the doubters will accept the fact now that to beat the top teams you have to have a squad like the top teams and rotate.
Interesting to see Jill Roord back in WSL even if it is with City. Thought she was happy enough at Wolfsburg.

Fun Gunner

Yes, weird one, that. She was getting game time at Wolfsburg, wasn’t she?

Fun Gunner

Agreed. To add to your comments about Caitlin Foord and Beth Mead, I consider that Kim Little’s hamstring injury and Lia Walti’s stint as the one-legged wonder were also due to excessive loading. We also can point the finger at international managers for wearing out some of our players. Did Beth Mead and Leah Williamson really have to start so many Lionesses games? No, they did not. Sarina Wiegman was spoilt for choice in the forward line and in defence. Nobody minds spending time on the bench if the team is winning silverware. It’s also great for team morale and… Read more »


A larger squad is certainly necessary, but it’s not sufficient. The choices of how to deploy those resources is extremely important. I’m reluctant to say this, but Emma Hayes is very good at managing a large squad.

Tim Stillman

Yes, I agree, it’s a skill and one she is very good at. I don’t think Hayes is tactically amazing but she is very good at managing a large squad and keeping everyone feeling involved. Obvs she has been the manager there for a long time and that helps in terms of managing resources but it’s the thing I am most intrigued about for next season. We did see signs with the Wienroither Maritz competition and bringing Sabs in too.

Peter Story Teller

She learnt from the top man Vic Akers! Agree about Hayes’ tactical nous she just seems to rely on swapping out half a team of international starters for a different set of international starters and the individual skills of those players. Seven changes against us in the last match and yet to look at the line up you wouldn’t have known there were any changes and that was against our one enforced change down to another injury. I wonder if Hayes would have been so successful at a club other than Chelsea who were not prepared to bankroll the squad… Read more »

Little Cubby

Right on all counts, well said

Swedish gunner

I think Arsenal have a better forwardline than Chelsea now. I mean Arsenal is probably the team in Europe with the best depth in the forwardline this coming season. No other team have two world-class strikers and arguably two of the best wingers in Foord and Mead with very good coverage behind them also. And then we have Viv, Pelova and Maanum as offensive midfielders. WOW!! Perhaps Wolfsburg have two world-class strikers now when I think about it. Popp and Pajor is pretty good also haha! How could a forgot about that? Would be interesting if jonas will try to… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Good info. Do you fancy a job as Scandanavian scout? CV to Jonas if you please! 🙂

Salvador Berzunza

for Australians, Jonas can contact Tony Gustavsson, Kyra especially can fit the team very well, must be quickly because Emma Hayes wants her.

Little Cubby

Yes, excellent analysis. Im quite happy to see my favourite player (even though l don’t actually have one) sit on the bench if it means the aim is achieved. I have a very strong feeling that in the new season (not withstanding injuries) we will be an unstoppable force !!


The center-forward situation at Arsenal is beyond ludicrous–insane. You’ve got one of the best scoring CF’s in the history of the game—Viv Miedema on your team, who at 27 is in her prime—-and the coach doesn’t think she can play center-forward! I feel like I’m a soccer episode of the old American sci-fi TV show The Twilight Zone. This is the same Miedema who scored 22 goals in WSL season 2018/19, 16 goals (’19/20), 18 goals (’20/21), 14 goals (’21/22, the season in which Eidevall moved her to the midfield halfway or two-third of the way through the season). She’s… Read more »

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