Sunday, June 16, 2024

Whole Lotte Love: Analysis of Lotte Wubben Moy’s towering performance against Villa and Daly

In Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United last week, I spoke about how Jonas Eidevall selected players who were comfortable taking the ball under pressure in order to spring counter-attacks. Kim Little and Alessia Russo played in wide roles, partially, because Eidevall felt they could take the ball under pressure and quickly play through United’s lines to expose them on the counter.

The team selection against Aston Villa was, I think, about better sustaining pressure, something Eidevall had highlighted as an area for improvement on the first two games of the season. Arsenal went back to a back four, with Katie McCabe on the right wing. I think Eidevall more or less selected a team to press Aston Villa and this was something he highlighted in his post-match press conference.

“We are higher as a team and we suffocate the opponent more, even when we don’t get first contact on passes and so on then we have another player that can pick the ball up again, so the number of counter pressures today far exceeds what we did in the first two games.” One of the less talked about selection decisions was Eidevall’s decision to play with Lotte Wubben-Moy ahead of Laia Codina at left centre-half.

Up against last season’s Golden Boot winner in Rachel Daly, Arsenal needed an aerially assured centre-half but they also had a plan to press Villa high up the pitch and, when you do that, you need your centre-halves to be comfortable high up the pitch. That is what Wubben-Moy gave Arsenal on Sunday, squeezing up the field to sustain pressure and using the ball very well, as Scott Willis’ data below demonstrates.

Let’s look at some examples of why Wubben-Moy’s performance was one of the unsung highlights of the afternoon for the Gunners.

We see a really nice early defensive contribution from Wubben-Moy early on as Villa break here and Simone Magill turns towards the Arsenal area. Wubben-Moy has a good eyeline across the situation and is balancing the threat of Magill on the ball and Daly’s run off the ball.

Daly tries to make a decoy run to take Wubben-Moy out of Magill’s path.

But Wubben-Moy is completely undeterred by Daly’s decoy, keeps her eyes on the ball and wins it back with an excellent block challenge and Arsenal come away with the ball. It’s an excellent piece of defending and Arsenal’s defending has not often been this assured in the previous two games.

Arsenal would have been cognizant of the fact that Villa were without Kirsty Hanson and Kenza Dali, two of Rachel Daly’s most prolific suppliers of chances. A midfield pair of Lucy Parker- a defender- and Lucy Staniforth- a career long defensive midfielder, was unlikely to be able to support Daly meaningfully. So Arsenal wanted Wubben-Moy to get tight on Daly knowing the space around her would not be as dangerous as usual. Anna Patten plays the ball to Daly here.

And Wubben-Moy is all over Daly, not allowing her to turn. Behind Wubben-Moy, things are secure. Ilestedt and Maritz have slid across to keep a three-on-three situation even if Daly can turn here.

Wubben-Moy wins the ball back high up and Arsenal have the ball back. It’s an example of the aggression Eidevall wanted Wubben-Moy to show in defending Daly and keeping her away from the penalty area where she is so dangerous.

Wubben-Moy used the ball really well too. As Villa clear, Wubben-Moy collects and, first, look at how high up the pitch she is, this was key to Arsenal’s gameplan of sustaining pressure. Daly is so dangerous in the air that the temptation would have been to field Jen Beattie at centre-half but you probably can’t defend this high up with Beattie.

Lotte also picks a very nice pass here into Russo’s feet and Russo flicks the ball around the corner to Maanum. Arsenal only end up with a corner from this situation but it’s a strong contribution from Wubben-Moy.

As Arsenal build here, Wälti’s attempted pass back to Catley is underhit and Villa have a promising transition.

Blindkilde Brown looks to feed Daly in a dangerous position.

But Wubben-Moy is aware and strong in the challenge again to kill the attack.

Not only that but she dribbles away from pressure comfortably and plays the ball to Foord.

It might surprise you that Wubben-Moy averaged more progressive carries per 90 than Rafaelle last season but she averaged almost double the amount. I think this was another big part of the selection and we see here, as she collects the ball from Zinsberger, she wants to drive the ball forwards.

By the time she releases the pass to Catley here, she is much higher up the pitch and Arsenal are pushed higher up as a result. Again, with no Dali and Jordan Nobbs on the bench (Nobbs was on the bench for Villa’s game against Manchester United recently, so it was a fair prediction she would be again here), Arsenal probably knew there would be some space to drive out from the back. Wubben-Moy is suited to this task.

Lotte receives the ball from Wälti here and she stays nice and calm, not committing to a pass until she can see a good one.

Wälti makes a lovely decoy run here because she wants to open up a passing lane and you can see that Lotte is signalling to Alessia Russo, a player she has known for many years and played with many times.

She feeds the ball to Russo who turns her defender here and gets Arsenal on the attack. Wubben-Moy showed patience as well as drive when she played out from the back.

Parker finds Mayling out wide here and Villa are in a good situation. Wubben-Moy immediately looks to see where Daly is.

And that look is crucial because it enables Lotte to put herself in the right position to intercept the cross and Arsenal clear the danger.

Arsenal really commit players in the second half and we see the importance of Wubben-Moy marshalling Daly again here, as the ball is played into her, if she manages to turn Lotte in this scenario, Arsenal could be in trouble.

Wubben-Moy didn’t win the ball here; but she does direct Daly back into a sea of red shirts and the danger is averted.

Villa didn’t manage many crosses to Daly in the game but as Magill shapes up to cross here, Wubben-Moy is instantly looking around for Daly and sees her running from deep at the edge of the area.

Because she looks early to see where Daly is, she knows where the ball is going and she is in position to win the header. She doesn’t get into a leaping contest with Daly because those tend not to end well for centre-halves, instead, this was a feat of awareness and positioning.

Wubben-Moy’s comfort playing on the right or the left of the centre-back pairing makes her a key squad member. Eidevall makes an attacking change just after the hour mark with Pelova coming on for right centre-half Ilestedt. Catley goes to left centre-back, with McCabe left-back and Wubben-Moy shifts across to right centre-back.

Wubben-Moy has a small, but important, part in the equaliser. She wins this aerial duel with Daly from van Domselaar’s kick out and this starts the move that sees McCabe equalise.

She has a bigger part in the winner. Lacasse’s cross is blocked and Wubben-Moy picks up the ricochet. From here, it would be very easy for her to toss the ball into the area and, in truth, for a big part of the second half Arsenal were too keen to toss the ball into the area without greater consideration.

Wubben-Moy probes for an angle here, either for Lacasse on the overlap or Pelova in the area but she can’t find a clean angle for either.

Eidevall talked about Arsenal making the right decisions under pressure post-match and this is what he meant. Wubben-Moy finds Mead instead and Arsenal retain the ball in a crucial area. From here, Mead tees up Russo for the winner.

There’s still time for a big defensive intervention too, in the 13th minute of stoppage time Adriana Leon plays the ball in behind for the rapid Ebony Salmon and Wubben-Moy is alive to it.

She times the tackle to absolute perfection, taking the tackle on the half-stride because she knows that Salmon is so quick and she cannot allow her to get into her stride pattern. It is a massive tackle.

And she knows it too, celebrating it like a goal as Zinsberger collects to prevent the corner. It crowned an excellent display from the Gunners centre-half.

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Little Cubby

Lotte was excellent yesterday. I was close enough to see how good that last ditch tackle in the dying seconds she made in the box was. It was absolutely crucial. That was an equaliser, no 2 ways. It was perfectly executed and as enjoyable to watch as our 2 goals. Well played Lotte 💪

Adrian Scott

As always, a suburb analysis by Tim. Katie may have been Player of the Match but without Lotte’s sterling contributions things could have been very different. Serena was watching the game and I am pretty sure that she will have been more than impressed with Lotte’s play.

It was wonderful to see Beth o the pitch again and her assist in the winning goal was the cherry on top!

Michael (1)

Great analysis as usual, really believe Lotte is often underappreciated especially for how much upside she gives the team in possession so I’m glad the piece focuses on her. Unfortunately in defensive positions people are much more lucky to remember mistakes than anything else but shes still relatively young and has time to iron out those mistakes in her game that creep up. She’ll be massive for us this season with Leah out and she might be the best ball progressor at the back for us now so hopefully we see more of this week in week out.

Collibosher

I agree. Unfortunately, Lotte seems to be one of those unfortunate defenders who gets punished for every mistake. So it’s great to see her have such a good game. She always looks comfortable on the ball though, and is a great passer. I wonder whether, when Leah is back, Lotte could be tried as a defensive midfielder.

insideright

Would it be pedantic of me to say that the term ‘centre-half’ became redundant in the 1960’s and now the position should always be referred to as ‘centre-back’ – positioned between the full backs?
Half-backs were the equivalent to what are now known as centre midfield players who largely play behind the ball but in front of the defence.
Agree with the analysis of Lotte’s game. She was the basis of our domination which ultimately led to the goals.

Goonersince55

At the end of the match, I thought the headlines would be about Katie, Lessi and Beth; however, what had struck me was what a good game Lotte had had. I was not the only person to spot this! I got a little frustrated when every time Amanda had the ball she nearly always passed to Lotte which did slow things down. Do you think she was doing this under instruction?

MartynJ

Any chance of us starting with just two defenders against Bristol City?

Kat

That last tackle was soooo important. Felt like everyone in the stadium roared alongside her!

I heard a lot of grumblings about our defence at half time, but I felt Lotte had a good game so it’s very interesting to read your analysis

Fun Gunner

Great article. Thanks, Tim.
Lotte Wubben-Moy showing what an intelligent and talented player she is. A real leader. And well done to Eidevall for playing to her strengths.

Fun Gunner

Rachel Daly must hate Arsenal players. Dominated and taken out of the game vs Netherlands by Victoria Pelova, then snuffed out by the titanic LWM yesterday.

Little Cubby

Yes l remember how Sarina had to take her off because she couldn’t live with Palova. Still love Rach though 😊

Fun Gunner

Yes she is a top player, and so humble.

Big L HoP

Cognisant*

Gunner H

Agree with all the praise for Lotte first of all.

Commenting to say that I newly watched the 1st goal again, and Pelova made a sensational tackle to recover the ball, moved cleverly to an inside forward position where she received the ball back, then delivered a perfect pass to Katie for her to strike, being a brilliant “double” assist – what a player!

tanja_hartmann_immer29

I’m so happy you pointed out what a greate role Lotte plays in this team! I think she is often completely underrated – just think how often an Arsenal goal started with one of her passes! Hopefully Sarina, being at the Emirates, saw and appreciated it too. 😉

James Mitchell

Wubben-Moy’s performance was stand-out against Liverpool too.
Very odd to hear Gilly Flaherty singling her out as not good enough for Arsenal or England after the Villa game.

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