Winning at home to West Ham might not be the fondest memory some of the die-hard Arsenal Women’s fans have but it was very special to me, as it was the first Arsenal Women game I ever attended.
Despite arriving late to Meadow Park (!) I didn’t miss much and could see the awful mix-up that led to West Ham’s opener, Jordan Nobbs’ equalizer and then the goals from Stina Blackstenius and Frida Maanum that sealed a well-deserved important win.
I won’t tell you much about the game itself because I was captivated by everything around it: the atmosphere, the crowd, the pitch, the score, the players. Everything.
I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how it would look and feel to step into Meadow Park and I was stunned to see how many people turned out on a chilly Sunday night and how strong this sense of community was. I liked the very thin balance between the professionalism (the cameras, the players, the staff) and the amateurism (fans scattered here and there, the closeness to the pitch) of the setup, and I am not saying this in a negative way: I truly liked both sides.
I loved hearing Manu Zinsberger complaining with and about the referee; I loved hearing a kid start the “Red Army!” chant and the crowd duly responding; I loved the jokes and jeers; I loved the “Meeeeeeeeado” chant, which sounds as annoying as Beffi can be when she harasses the opponents and I loved how Rafaelle stayed behind to take selfies and sign autographs (she said “OK guys, a last one then I have to go” at least twenty times).
I loved everything about a truly memorable night.
Being there helped me understand much better how close the fans and the club are and how much energy and passion there is around the team. It felt like being in a large family reunion, it felt like being part of a great community. Also, I could see with my very own eyes how well we play, how quick, strong and skilled some players are, which is not always that apparent through a screen.
On the pure footballing side, there were a few things that stayed with me: Jordan Nobbs’ urgency, which helped massively to speed up the tempo and put West Ham under pressure; Frida Maanum movement off the ball, which allowed her to pop up in the box unmarked, whether it was centrally of towards each flank, and finally Stina Blackstenius’ power when running with the ball.
It was a deserved win and we could have scored more but there is not much to complain about, beside the fact that Manuela Zinsberger saw her record shattered by a very evitable miscommunication at the back.
Next up is the away game at Leicester City, on Sunday afternoon. The Foxes are currently bottom of the league with six defeats in as many league games and a goal difference of -10, therefore I expect a win and I hope we will be able to pip Manchester United to the top spot thanks to goal difference.
We’ll talk again on Monday!
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.
A trip to the Borehamwood is on the cards now.