The Arsenal Women Journal – Back with a double bang [ARS 2-1 EVE]

Good morning, Arsenal Women aficionados!

The Arsenal Women team is finally back, after the winter break.

There is so much to unpack, since we last spoke, that I’m afraid this will become a long read – but stick with me, please.

A month ago, when I reported about the North London Derby defeat at the Tottenham Stadium, I took a moment to think about the possibility of Jonas Eidevall fielding what looks to be our ideal XI, against Watford, eighteen or so months since the last time he could afford to do that.

Funnily enough, the starting lineup I wrote down that day wasn’t too dissimilar to the eleven players he picked in the home win against Everton, on Sunday.

Bar the unexpected sale of Noëlle Maritz, replaced by the US international Emily Fox, and the long-term absentee Leah Williamson, the only mistake I made was naming Kim Little instead of Victoria Pelova, although the captain and former Scotland international was injured. Given how optimistic Jonas Eidevall sounded when asked about the return of Leah Williamson to full fitness, there is a strong possibility that we will see the best Arsenal team as soon as next month, right on time to take on both Manchester clubs – and I, for one, can’t wait.

Let’s not get carried away, though, and let’s go back to where we left off: as mentioned, Noëlle Maritz joined Aston Villa in a permanent transfer (a surprise, at least to me) and was immediately replaced by Emily Fox, a 25-years old defender who can play both centrally or on the flank. The US international took part in the short winter camp in Portugal and adjusted very quickly, starting both games against Watford and Everton. Speaking of the Toffees, Kathrine Kühl joined them on loan, for the remainder of the season, to get the minutes and exposure that she deserves after finding it hard to dislodge any of Kim Little, Victoria Pelova, Lia Wälti and Kyra Cooney-Cross, all of whom were ahead of the Denmark international in the pecking order. This is designed to be the perfect move for all parties involved, as Everton gets an incredibly talented midfielder, while the player will benefit from having a coach who knows her and who plays the possession-based brand of football that suits her skillset. I hope that Kathrine Kühl will come back stronger, more self-confident, and ready to fight for a place in the team, since she possesses all the qualities to succeed at the Arsenal.

Besides a loan move for Brazilian forward Gio Queiroz, another youngster in need of regular playing time, our transfers window might well be over, with Jonas Eidevall quick and resolute in labelling as “no truth whatsoever” the rumours about Lia Wälti leaving the club and Manu Zinsberger penning a new long-term contract with the Arsenal.

Back to the pitch, then!

The second half of our season started with a comprehensive win against Watford, in the FA Cup, and the feeling that Alessia Russo and Vivianne Miedema could form a wonderful partnership upfront, exchanging roles and combining in the final third. Some might argue that it was “only” Watford but the more these two play together, the harder it will become for our opponents to read our attacking moves. Both equally goods at dropping back to link up play and run in behind to attack the six-yards box, Vivianne Miedema and Alessia Russo could become virtually unstoppable, as a pair, and make a huge difference in moving the deep-blocks we are likely to face for the rest of the season.

If we throw in there Beth Mead and Caitlin Foord, who both excel at running at their markers and take them on, defenders will be under pressure to watch over their shoulders, not leave too much time and space on the ball to Vivianne Miedema or Alessia Russo between the lines and cover the late run at the far post. Oh, and should any of the above not work for whatever reason, Jonas Eidevall will still have Stina Blackstenius and Lina Hurtig to send on and cause even more chaos with their aerial threat, speed, and directness.

Good luck with handling all of that…

Caitlin Beth cele

After dispatching the Hornets in the cup, we returned to action in the Women Super League and hosted Everton at Meadow Park, on Sunday. The game was at risk of being canceled because the pitch was frozen – yes, it still happens in the richest league of women’s football – but a late inspection made sure it could go on, and we grabbed the three points thanks to a 2-1 against the Toffees. Goals from Caitlin Foord and Beth Mead ensured we stayed in the chase after Chelsea defeated Manchester United and Manchester City thrashed Liverpool, but the scoreline should have been way more comfortable.

We are still three points behind Chelsea and level on point with the Citizens, who have a better goal difference, but the most important fact is that we are now seven points ahead of Manchester United, in what looks to be a three-horse race for the top prize.

With eleven games to go and some juicy games coming up in the next month, this race is likely to get very hot, very soon.

Going back to the game against Everton, Lia Wälti deservedly got a lot of praise for her commanding display in the middle of the park, but I would rather talk about her midfield partner, Victoria Pelova, who truly blossomed since switching from attacking midfielder, or wide forward, to the playmaker role. As a number eight, the former Ajax star and Dutch international has become more and more influential at both ends of the pitch, showing some true grit in defence and the usual intelligence and technique with the ball. Alongside Lia Wälti, recently named Swiss footballer of the year, Victoria Pelova can roam freely to pick up the spaces and advance the ball, either with a carry or by stringing passes together, making her a difficult opponent to deal with.

Against Everton, Victoria Pelova registered her fifth assist in the league this season, which puts her at the top of this specific table, while she is also the league leader in terms of through balls and goal-creating actions, according to She might not be as progressive or as accurate with the ball as Lia Wälti, who was the standout player on Sunday, but her high risk/high reward approach is quietly starting to pay off, with numbers finally backing up the eye judgement.


A word about Vivianne Miedema, to conclude this journal: the Dutch superstar is yet to score her first goal since she returned from injury but should have had at least a couple of assists to her name, against Everton. The quality of her movement and passes were simply outstanding, which is obviously not a surprise to anyone, and it is just a matter of time before goals and assists will start to flow. I had the clear feeling that Vivianne Miedema was overthinking when presented chances to hit the back of the net, and I believe that as soon as the first goes in, through a ricochet or whatsoever, it will look like a liberation for her – and a sentence for our opponents.

That’s it for the first Arsenal Women Journal of 2024, the team is back on the pitch on Wednesday against Reading in the Conti Cup, before heading to Liverpool to take revenge on the Reds, who won at the Emirates Stadium on the first game of the league,

Speak to you soon!

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One Response to The Arsenal Women Journal – Back with a double bang [ARS 2-1 EVE]

  1. Clive waterman January 22, 2024 at 11:22 pm #

    Hi Andrea
    I think we will have to be perfect in the league from here on in to win the Title.
    After thrashing Chelsea, it was a real surprise and major disappointment to lose to the neighbors the following week.
    Our Achilles heel is still not converting a better percentage of the chances we create.
    We have the strongest squad I have seen for many years, with great depth on the bench, so we should be able to adapt to whatever in game scenarios develop.
    It is going to be a big headache for Jonas now that Leah is almost fully fit to return.
    Defensively and with her leadership qualities, she has been a massive loss for us.
    Quite how he juggles all his defensive options is going to be very interesting.

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