Saturday, May 25, 2024

Three areas for Arsenal Women to address ahead of next season

Certainly for supporters of Arsenal Women, minds have been on the summer since the immediate aftermath of the Conti Cup Final with the club floating on a 3rd placed island in the WSL for much of the season. Arsenal have done a lot of work in the transfer window in recent years and January was, for once, quite a tranquil window, with Noelle Maritz leaving to be replaced by Emily Fox. But let’s look at some questions that Jonas Eidevall and co will look to answer in the summer.

HOW DO ARSENAL SCORE MORE GOALS?
Arsenal have the highest number of shots, the second highest XG, the most through balls, the most passes into the penalty area and the highest number of passes into the final third in the WSL this season. But they have scored 12 fewer goals than Manchester City and 10 fewer than Chelsea.

They have 46 goals from an XG of 49.7, conversion of chances has been a big issue for Arsenal this season and are one of only two teams in the league underperforming their XG (the other is West Ham). Does that get better naturally? 21 games is a relatively small sample size and recently Jonas Eidevall was keen to point out that Manchester City’s underlying numbers have not changed drastically from this season compared to last but their conversion rate has improved and taken them from 4th to a point where they are locked in the title race with one game remaining.

Arsenal will need to add a wide player in the summer as they have been carrying a deficit on the left wing pretty much since Eidevall arrived due to fitness issues for Tobin Heath and Lina Hurtig. An extra winger capable of contributing goals and assists will, of course, help greatly. I believe Arsenal were monitoring the situation around Lauren Hemp’s contract with interest before she committed to City.

A lot of Arsenal’s attacking play has been slow and deliberate this season, when I visualise an Arsenal attack, a lot of the passes, especially to the wide players, are ‘to feet’ rather than in behind. A greater creative edge is needed, a willingness to play riskier passes behind defences. I believe Arsenal are seriously targeting a creative player capable of playing across the front line and behind a striker and that could be the first signing of the summer.

Arsenal’s finishing needs to improve but so too does their craft in the final third, there has been too much of a reluctance to take risks and play passes in behind. Mead and Foord rarely receive slipped passes in behind full-backs, both players often receive the ball to feet, faced up against a sea of defenders. More final third craft in both creativity and execution against deep defensive blocks is required and I suspect we’ll see additions in the market to help this along.

SETPIECES
Arsenal have scored two goals from setpieces in the WSL this season, compared to eight last season. Arseblog News asked Jonas Eidevall about this last week and he referenced losing some imposing penalty area targets this year, ‘There are so many different factors but one obvious one is the aerial ability of individual targets. There is no doubt that we have a lost a lot of really good aerial players during the last 12-18 months from the squad.’

I am not entirely sure how Arsenal solve that in the transfer window, though with Amanda Ilestedt set to miss a chunk of next season as she expects a child, the Gunners will probably need another centre-half this summer to complement and challenge Williamson, Wubben-Moy and Codina. However they do it, Arsenal really need to boost their setpiece prowess.

Eidevall also pointed to Manchester City’s improvement in this area as the one metric this season where they have notably improved. Arsenal could have gone a long way to making up some of that goal gap on Chelsea and City with even an average season in terms of setpiece threat. Patrick Winqvist and the rest of the coaching staff will want to review this area carefully over the summer because in Cooney-Cross, Catley, Mead and McCabe, Arsenal are not short of strong deliverers of set plays.

MIDFIELD
A lot of Arsenal’s summer activity may well be governed by departures, as reported by the Telegraph’s Tom Garry in March, Arsenal are indeed interested in Aston Villa goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, which would suggest that Sabrina D’Angelo will leave (we don’t have any direct information on D’Angelo as yet).

But the biggest questions are over the midfield. Arsenal have rotated heavily between Maanum, Miedema and Kim Little in the number 10 position this season but we don’t really have a firm impression of who the favoured player is there. Miedema’s future is still to be publicly clarified with her contract expiring at the end of this season.

It feels like Eidevall has a bit of a decision to make over the number 10 spot and who his ideal candidate is and whether they are currently in the squad.

Then there is the return from loan of Kathrine Kuhl from Everton, which means Arsenal have five central midfielders, which feels too many. Kuhl went on loan in the first place because she was often struggling to make the bench for WSL games in the first half of the campaign.

Arsenal hold Kuhl in very high regard but it’s hard to see how things change for her in 2024-25 unless one of Pelova, Little, Cooney-Cross or Walti moves on and none feel like players the club or the supporters would be happy to lose. (We currently don’t have any information to suggest any of these players are likely to move on), unless, of course, Kuhl goes on loan again next season.

All of these are areas feel like the most intriguing ones to keep an eye on over the summer (well, we can’t keep an eye on what the coaching staff discuss with regards to setpieces but you get the picture!)

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Adina

Does it look like we’ll be targeting two wingers over the window or just one? While Mariona is definitely a solid addition, I don’t think she’s known for her speed and it does feel odd to have all of our wingers be in the 28-30s age range and we’re missing someone in their early twenties age bracket. Especially after it being clear we need more speed on the flanks, do you think we’ll be adding more than her? Or will that be the sole forward addition?

Tim stillman

I think we will target another winger as well as Mariona, yes. I think pace and directness out wide is exactly what Eidevall wants (he signed Heath, he tried to sign Geyse, he likes this type of wide option).

Ricky

Is there any concrete interest in Rosemonde Kouassi from Arsenal?

David Hillier's luggage

The midfield situation is interesting. There will be a lot of games to play if we qualify for the UWCL, is having Pelova, Little (as mentioned, splitting time between playing no10), Cooney-Cross and Walti really enough? Kim will also be 34 by the time the season starts, given how important a player she is for us, managing her time so she can carry on for a few few more years might lead to a lot of rotation and someone like Kuhl getting a fair amount of game time.

Reuben Peter

We might want to add a 4th area for improvement – the Manager? Is Jonas Eidevaal the right Manager for the team? It beggars belief that we are where we are, with the individual talent we possess. I watched the Liverpool game at the Emirates in October, which Arsenal lost, and there was zero change in tactics or anything of the sort. A bit bereft of ideas is what we looked in that and some other games

Colin Carey

Wins against Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham and we wouldn’t be having these discussions and doubts. Three teams the Arsenal should’ve won with no trouble. Watch replays of those matches and see where we went wrong.

Pahtotheworld

Need more goals. Let go all time WSL scorer and possibly your season top scorer

Amor pelo futebol feminino

If Jonas really chooses Mariona, it’s because of her style of play and it makes sense, if her contract works out, because the Spanish today, seeing the football they are playing, their decision-making is impressive on the pitch, Arsenal have to be smart because Chelsea With the new technique, I’m sure they’ll bring some players from Lyon, some have expiring contracts and haven’t shown any sign of renewing, City, United, will also make huge signings, I think.

WayBackWhen

Perhaps the thing that is factored into the size of the midfield and a Champions league campaign (and I really hate to raise this after a relatively settled season), is the possibility of long term injuries?

Based on Gary Lewins’ assessment in Step By Step is that statistically it’s a when not if.

Perhaps KK on a flexible/instant recall loan arrangement (is that even allowed)?

Lea

That’s not allowed for players on professional contracts unless they are a keeper.

WayBackWhen

Thanks.

Ricky

I hope the club could revisit the Excel spreadsheet and look for a left-footed centre back again this summer. Ilestedt spent two years at each of her last three clubs so I would expect her contract to end next year. It’s better to sign someone with a view to replace her in 2025. I still want Arsenal to sign Manuela Vanegas as she is young (23 y/o) and versatile (primarily as a CB for Real Sociedad and as a LB for Colombia).

Fun Gunner

I see Ruby Mace is leaving City. I don’t know what the reasons are, but I wonder if we could get her back at Arsenal. Defender and defensive midfielder, was very well thought of while she was here. Saying that she is probably already taken. But if we don’t go for Janssen, I would like us to recruit a young player. She came out of our Academy, I think.

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