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The Arsenal Women Journal – Disenchantment Day as Gunners crumble before Chelsea

disappointment

It’s not really a déjà-vu but it feels like one.
Wolfsburg is going to the Nou Camp, Chelsea is going to Wembley and we are left dealing with our regrets and recriminations.

Another big day is gone and we are left disappointed by a team that looks still very vulnerable to pressure and struggles to cope with setbacks. We started well, we had plenty of chances, we put Chelsea under pressure but we couldn’t capitalize them and we were punished for that – once again.
It was particularly cruel to see how quickly we went from being inches away from opening the score to trailing: Beth Mead turned brilliantly in the box and fired just wide of the far post then, less than 60 seconds later, Guro Reitner found the top corner and put Chelsea ahead.

That was the moment that knocked us out and the team never really recovered from that, which is probably the most disappointing takeaway from the sunny afternoon at Meadow Park. Although Chelsea grew into the game in the closing stages of the first half, we were playing well, we were defending well and we were very much into the game, yet we allowed one goal to derail us. I believed that we were past the subconsciously “downing the tool” phase, since Jonas Eidevall took over, but I see that we are still very fragile, mentally. That first goal truly took the wind out of our sails and made it look like the players were somehow surrendering, accepting the inevitable defeat, which of course is very worrying.

chelsea-goal

As usual, Jonas Eidevall was very honest in his post-match press conference and said it very well:

“If we had carried on being consistent, carrying out the game plan, even if we had lost 1-0 and it wasn’t enough, then ok, maybe it isn’t your day and you can accept it. If we want to be a winning team we cannot be dependent on scoring the first goal, of course it is an advantage but we need to have the mentality of being consistent, carrying on doing all the right things and we didn’t do that today.”

We didn’t really deserve to be one goal behind and definitely didn’t deserve to lose by two goals, yet to let that happen by losing focus and belief as soon as they scored the first goal. We became sloppy, we made several individual mistakes, we didn’t communicate well and we didn’t truly react to falling behind. I would have loved (and Jonas too, I guess) to see the more experienced players in the team to help their teammates, keep the focus high and prevent any snowball effect from happening:

“I also think it’s accountability, to keep each other accountable for the way we play and not to let one mistake become two or three mistakes. If somebody is jumping out of position or making bad decisions, then we need to communicate and tell that player to do it differently. Or sometimes we might need to play easier so that we don’t make the second and third mistakes.”

The coach’s words suggest that there might be a lack of leadership on the pitch, which is quite surprising considering that we have the likes of Leah Williamson, Manu Zinsberger, Katie McCabe, Lia Wälti and Kim Little in our ranks: how is this happening? Why none of our most influential players is speaking up when things start to go wrong? I guess this might be the missing step in making a very good team like ours become a top team.

Handling pressure and expectations is probably the most difficult aspect of football and team sports in general, where you need to get there in unison and where individual success depends heavily on other people. This team clearly lacks the ability to handle the money time but hopefully is learning from defeats like this one or the one suffered against Wolfsburg.

We cannot allow disappointments like this one get in the way now, because the season is far from being over. With four games to go in the league, Chelsea might still slip along the way and we have to be ready to take advantage of that. If we keep thinking about what we should have done and how things should have gone in this semifinal, or in the Champions League, we might sleep on our chance.

Great teams know how to deal with pressure but also know how to deal with disappoitment, let’s see how great of a team we are.

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4 Responses to The Arsenal Women Journal – Disenchantment Day as Gunners crumble before Chelsea

  1. silentstan April 18, 2022 at 11:24 am #

    you missed the word AGAIN of the end of the title

  2. TheFriendsofMisterCairo April 19, 2022 at 12:40 am #

    Hi Andrea
    Nothing i can add to your report, other than to say that i feel we are still way behind Chelsea and City in having enough players with high technical qualities and a winning mentality.
    We are still behind both of them in the quality of players we are buying.
    We don’t have unlimited funds to go out and buy the best in the market.
    We are shopping one and 2 levels below, and this shows up when we come up against the better European sides and also our 2 main domestic rivals.
    If City hadn’t been derailed by a massive injury list this season, we would be running 3rd.
    Unless the Club commit serious funds to the Women’s squad, nothing will change.
    Chelsea weren’t at their best, but were still able to dig out a win, whilst we are still snowflakes in the sun when adversity strikes.

    • ClockEnd Italia April 19, 2022 at 6:45 am #

      Hello, thanks for your comments!

      I feel your frustration but I also feel you are letting yourself get carried away by the disappointing result.

      The Club has invested a lot through the years and its budget is very similar to Chelsea’s or City’s; we can argue whether we did spend well but we did invest, that’s a fact. Yesterday we had Parris, Heath and Iwabuchi on the bench, for example.

      Let’s not forget our stellar start of the campaign, the incredible run up to december last year and how we are still very much in the race, while everyone was seeing us well behind Chelsea and City.

      I believe we simply lack belief and composure in some specific scenarios but overall we gave everyone a fair game, except for Barcelona and Chelsea in the FA Cup final. We could be losing a championship because of a bad day in Birmingham, after all, which is very damning but also a testimony of our consistency through the season.

      We didn’t lose one single game against any of our rivals (2W, 2D), which is also a big improvement.

      I think it’s vital for us to put things into perspective and for the team to pick themselves up because there is still a lot to play for.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. TheFriendsofMisterCairo April 19, 2022 at 10:55 pm #

    Hi Andrea
    thnks for responding,,
    I have to take issue with your comment about being on par budget wise with our 2 main rivals.
    This is simply not the case.
    The Club has only recently decided to raise the very low investment made in the Ladies team, and it is still nowhere near our rivals.
    Last summer was the first one for many years when we actually spent some decent funds to bring in new players.
    We have been continually battered in the past few seasons by City and Chelsea because of the clear gap in class and quality of players they have brought in compared to ours.
    They also pay far more in wages than we could ever compete against.
    This is an exact parallel with the top Clubs in the EPL, where we are very much the poor relation.
    The 3 players you mention that were on our bench on Saturday, would not get anywhere near the first 11 of City and Chelsea..
    So my post was not about frustration at the defeat, more the underlying symptoms that have allowed us to fall so far behind our rivals.

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