Talent. Talent. Talent. Perhaps not as much as our rivals but bags of it, still.
The Arsenal Women team that is about to start the new season has bags of talent in it.
Season 2021/22 will be decisive for the present and future or Arsenal Women team, for different reasons: despite being the most successful women team in English football and the only one to lay hands on the UEFA Women Champions League trophy, we have somehow allowed the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City to close the gap and even get ahead of us.
Also, this is going to be the first season after the unprecedented broadcasting rights deal with Sky Sport, which means that more games will be televised and more people will have access to women’s football, in England and in Europe.
Finally, we have a couple of very, very good players who will be out of contract at the end of the season and, should we not show enough ambition, they will surely walk away: one is probably the best footballer in the world and the other one is our very own Leah Williamson; losing either one of them, or both, would seriously dent our reputation.
The season starts on Sunday, 5th of September at home to the reigning champions of Chelsea, who lost the UEFA Women’s Champions League to Barcelona and decided to double-down on the already hefty investments by bringing in Lauren James from Manchester United and Aniek Nouwen from PSV Eindhoven. The Blues, who have a frightening attacking line composed of Kerr, Harder and WSL Player of the Year Fran Kirby, and a rock-solid defensive unit, led by Magdalena Eriksson and Ann-Katrin Berger, will be quite a test for Jonas Eidevall, who took over from Joe Montemurro, who moved to Juventus.
The Swede comes in with great expectations and a promise of free-flowing, attacking football that should suit the current team quite well. He must do better than his predecessor in terms of squad management and injury prevention; Joe Montemurro historically preferred to work with a small team and players who could cover several positions but often fell victim of a series of injuries that resulted in make-shift formations and starting XI, negatively impacting the results in the mid and long term. While the Club has been working behind close doors to put in place better facilities and more people to help the strength and conditioning department. A very welcome step that would hopefully help Jonas Eidevall in his quest to close the gap with Chelsea and Manchester City.
Also, the former Rosengard head coach will have to interrupt the long streak of bad results against direct rivals, stretching back to October, 20119 when we beat Manchester City one-nil at Boreham Wood, something that surely got stuck on the back of the players’ heads and contributed to the underwhelming results of the last campaign. Although finishing third meant we could get back to the Champions League, we didn’t really compete for the title and had to push the hardest to pip Manchester United for the last Champions League qualifying spot, so there’s no other word to describe last season but disappointing.
Chelsea at home is a challenge as big as it gets but could be seen as the perfect occasion to kick-start the new era, overseen by our young, innovative coach and show the football world that the Arsenal means business. Perhaps we became a bit too complacent in the past and rested on our laurels, allowing our rivals to overcome us, but this summer has been very positive and promising for the immediate and long-term future of the Arsenal Women team. The promises made by Vinai about strenghtenning the squad and the Club are being kept, so far, and the ingredients are there to restore our status at the top of the women’s football pyramid.
It is going to be difficult to close the gap opened during the last two years, because neither one of Chelsea or Manchester City are standing still, but at least we are trying and look determined to give those teams a real fight, unlike last year.
In Mana Iwabuchi, Vivianne Miedema, Kim Little, Lia Wälti, a fully-fit Steph Catley, exciting new signing, Nikita Parris, Leah Williamson and Katie McCabe we have some great talents, in Jonas Eidevall a great coach and behind them a Club that sounds truly invested in women’s football.
The ingredients are there, we’ll see how they blend together.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.