We’re going to Wembley, Gooners!
We will face Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday, 5th of December: be there if you can, support the team in their quest for their first trophy of the season.
Jonas Eidevall’s team have a chance to win their 15th FA Cup and extend their record in the competition, which is very impressive: Southampton are currently second-best with eight cups, all won in the seventies, while the other Clubs are pretty far from us.
Much like the men’s competition, the Women’s FA Cup seems to be an Arsenal thing. By the way, if they managed to lift the trophy, the women’s team will overcome the men’s with 15 FA Cup to 14. The race is on!
Chelsea will be eager to spoil the party, especially after the defeat they suffered at the Emirates Stadium on the opening game of the Women’s Super League, but this Arsenal team is scarily good.
We have power, skills, speed, intelligence and leadership across the pitch and across the squad, there is no reason to be feeling inferior to Chelsea.
Let’s go back to the semifinals, though: Brighton defended very well for 45 minutes and made it very difficult for us to break the deadlock but we were dominant from the start, despite some high-profile players missing out. We all knew that Vivianne Miedema was getting rested after a very intense summer and a busy start of the season, but we later found out that Tobin Heath, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Steph Catley would miss the game entirely, with Mana Iwabuchi and Frida Maanum on the bench, together with some youngsters.
Perhaps we weren’t as sharp as usual and lacked fluidity in our game but, as soon as Katie McCabe, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs started to combine more regularly thgrough the left flank, the pressure would become impossible to absorb, for Brighton. It was Kim Little who finally broke down Brighton’s resistance, calmly finishing a great chance created by Beth Mead: the English forward ran down the left side, beat her opponent with a nice dummy and squared to her captain, who slotted home with a clever outside-of-the-boot touch from close range.
A few minutes later, the game was virtually over when Beth Mead, who’s enjoying the football of her life at the moment, went on another mazy run, combined with Jordan Nobbs and penetrated into the box, before firing to the far post and leaving no chance to the goalkeeper. Leah Williamson then scored the third to wrap-up the game, heading in a corner whipped by Beth Mead (!)
I didn’t expect Beth Mead to become so lethal, so consistent, so exceptionally good in such a short space of time, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been blown away by her progress, compared to last season. There’s a primitive hunger is the way she attacks the space and takes on other players, a sense of urgency that I’ve only seen in flashes, in the past; yet, she’s still the ultimate team-player and shows the usual positive aggression and attitude when she press the opponents, chases players down and helps defensively. She went up a few levels, since missing out on the Great Britain’s olympic team, and found the way to feed the fire inside her.
It was a serene, mature and dominant display from the Arsenal, in every department: Jen Beattie and Leah Williamson were superb at the back, Kim Little was her usual stunning self in midfield, Lia Wälti controlled the game from the deep-lying position and everyone else was on top of their game, especially on the left flank where Katie McCabe and Beth Mead were unstoppable.
Brighton never really stood a chance but it was extremely important to score early in the second half, in order to avoid getting frustrated and losing the flow; as soon as we scored the first one, the feeling was that more would come and Brighton would lose some of their dedication and motivation.
It was a very well-deserved win, embellished by some flashes of very good football and a spotless attitude throughout the game.
It was very humble from Jonas Eidevall to give enormous credit to Joe Montemurro, after the game: the Swede paid homage to his predecessor’s work and the foundations he laid towards the end of last season, when we were chasing a Champions League spot and put together a string of impressive performances and results. The former Rosengard head-coach graciously acknowledged that the players, the coaching staff and everyone involved with the women’s team did a tremendous job before he stepped in and that he only had to “change a few things”. Could well be but I never witnessed such intensity and directness when Joe was on the bench and that might well be the difference, this season.
Next up is West Ham on Sunday, the first of five games we will be playing this month: it is going to be very busy in the next three weeks and Jonas Eidevall’s decision to rest some key-players might prove to be a very important one, for our season. After West Ham we will face Spurs and Manchester United in the league, while we will play Koge both home and away in the Champions League.
With the FA Cup final and the home game against Barcelona looming at the horizon, we will need fresh legs and fresh minds.
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.