The Arsenal Women Journal – Painfully close, yet so far: another draw we can’t afford [WHA 0-0 ARS]

The second draw in a row might prove to be a very harmful one. After conceding a last-minute draw at home to Chelsea, Jonas Eidevall’s team travelled to south London determined to keep-up with the league leaders, who won at Tottenham, but could not get past a resilient West Ham team.

The leit-motiv is always the same: we should have won but we didn’t take our chances.

We had 21 attempts last night but only a handful of those truly tested the goalkeeper, and they were well apart from each other. Yet, there isn’t much we did wrong, except for that very last touch: West Ham didn’t have a single shot in the second half, they were only kicking long to relieve some pressure but we were immediately back, knocking on their door, so all in all we played rather well – although better in the second half compared to the first.

Inevitably, every missed chance and every chance that went wasted brought the attention back to the lack of activity in the transfers’ market last month but Jonas Eidevall’s reply to such question was spot on:

“Of course, we have to do better with our goal scoring opportunities but that is football sometimes, it is small details. I was honest and transparent that I felt we needed another forward in this window, but I was also very honest and transparent about the fact that I believe in these players that we have. We have a lot of quality. […] All our forward options were ready to play today so we have no excuses there, we have enough quality to produce more with these opportunities.”

In an otherwise rather deflating night, Leah Williamson was a bright spark in midfield, proving once again how invaluable she is to the team. Her long passes split West Ham defensive line several times, creating many of those chance that we couldn’t convert, while Rafaelle also had a very good game at the back, leading the line in the absence of Leah Williamson.

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Rafalle battling out against West Ham (SkySports)

This disappointing result leaves us five points behind Chelsea and three points behind Manchester United, although with a game in hand compared to both teams, so there is plenty to play for but it’s definitely time to sort out those “small details” Jonas Eidevall was referring to, in his post-match interview: when replying to Tim Stillman’s question, he brushed away any confidence issues within the team and then he also rebuffed the idea that the team has a personnel problem, claiming that this very same time scored 22 goals in 5 games against Zurich, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Leeds and West Ham. The problem is that 18 of those 22 goals came in the games against Leeds (9-0) and Zurich (9-1), while the last convincing win in the league came two months ago, away at Aston Villa, where we won 4-1. Since then, we edged Everton 1-0, we drew 1-1 at home to Chelsea and we drew 0-0 at West Ham.

I believe we have a big problem, which is rather natural when you lose your two best forwards with long-term injuries, but I also believe that we have enough quality to beat everyone in the league, if we build some connections upfront. Hopefully the daily work on the training ground will start produce some results, let’s hope that it won’t be too late when things start clicking in attack.

We have three big games coming up, two against Manchester City and one against Chelsea, that will tell us more about the potential of our “new” forwards, let’s sit back and see where we can go from there.

We’ll talk again after the first of these three encounters, the home game against Manchester City in the Conti Cup. Chin up, Gooners!

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