As soon as the final whistle went, I was feeling disappointed.
We dominated the possession for a vast majority of the game, didn’t concede much, had at least three great chances to win the game and yet we had to settle for a draw in Turin, home of Joe Montemurro’s Juventus.
Of the two teams on the pitch, the Arsenal was the most impressive and the most likely to win the tie, but we squandered chance after chance and I couldn’t help feeling regretful for the outcome, given that a win in Turin would have put us in the strongest possible position to reach the knock-out phase.
I was almost angry with the result, to be honest, because Juventus were there for the taking and so was the qualification for the round of 16 and we didn’t show enough composure to grab our opportunity.
Then, as the minutes went by, I started to realize that we were playing away from home against a team who is second in their league and scored an impressive 25 goals in 9 league games; moreover, we headed to Turin without Leah Williamson, Rafaelle, Kim Little and Beth Mead – basically the spine of the team – yet we only conceded one chance to the hosts. All in all, this draw isn’t too bad, and we are still in a very good position to wrap things up before we face Lyon, making this incredibly tricky fixture a very challenging training session.
If we win against Juventus at the Emirates Stadium, in two weeks’ time, we will seal the qualification to the next round and I feel more optimistic after our display, last night.
Of course, we cannot afford the luxury of scoring with our third, fourth or fifth chance of the game, so we need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal and take the chances we are able to manufacture. In that regard, I am still waiting for Stina Blackstenius to raise her level: the Swede has an unbelievable talent to time her runs and create one-on-one situations but her finishing is still very much hit and miss, which is what separates her from the top attackers in the world.
I’d really like Stina Blackstenius to end her love affair with goalposts, for a start, and choose accuracy over power more frequently, because I feel that she is often precipitating her choices in front of goal. That said, I will always take a striker who creates lots of chances over a very clinical one that shoots twice per game. Stina Blackstenius is very good at being at the right place at the right time, something that is vital for any great striker and – most importantly – something that is very hard to train, as opposed to finishing the chances you are presented with.
Jonas Eidevall said that he expects to have a couple of players available for the reverse fixture but he didn’t say who that will be: Rafaelle is the first name that comes to my mind, while a nice surprise could be an early recovery from Kim Little. Let’s hope that Laura Wienroither’s knock isn’t too bad, we could really use a break in terms of injuries.
We were able to dominate Juventus despite playing in Turin and despite the absences, there is no reason we cannot repeat ourselves at home and win the game.
Before that, we will welcome Everton at Meadow Park on Saturday and try to start a new winning streak, given how Manchester United rudely ended the previous one. Currently eight in the table with four defeats in seven games, Everton will play Sheffield United in the FA Cup on Saturday night, away from home.
Talk to you soon, Gooners!
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.