The Arsenal Women Journal – Another trophy slipping away [ARS 0-1 MCI]

Good morning, Arsenal Women aficionados!

Was it in? The big talking point of the home defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup has been whether the ball fumbled by Khiara Keating crossed the line or not. With no VAR or goal-line technology available, it was the officials who made the decision, and they decided that it didn’t.

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My feeling while watching the game was that the ball did cross the line, but that doesn’t really count as the referee didn’t give us the goal and Manchester City knocked us out of the FA Cup. While technically we are still in the title race, crashing out of the FA Cup means that our only chance to bring home some silverware this season rests on the Conti Cup, where we will face the London City Lionesses in the quarter-finals, then Aston Villa in the semis – if we progress, of course.

Given that the other finalist will be either one of Manchester City or Chelsea, it is safe to say that we aren’t the favourites to defend the title.

The game against the London City Lionesses, originally scheduled on 7th of February, will be played next Wednesday after being called off because of a waterlogged pitch, while the semifinals will be played on March, 6th.

Back to the game against Gareth Taylor’s team, on Sunday: Jonas Eidevall introduced Frida Maanum, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Sabrina D’Angelo and Katie McCabe in the starting XI, with Steph Catley, Vivianne Miedema, Lia Wälti and Manuela Zinsberger dropping out. Both teams looked more interested in limiting the opponent, rather than creating chances, and the overall feeling was that the first goal would probably be the decisive one.

Manchester City used the flanks to feed Bunny Shaw with crosses, while on our side we attempted to play through the lines, with little success.

The only bright spot in our forward line was Caitlin Foord, who created problems on the left wing and put her direct opponent under pressure on several occasions, although she never truly tested the goalkeeper. Elsewhere, Beth Mead, Frida Maanum and Alessia Russo all had a quiet afternoon, as spaces became hard to find. The same goes for Bunny Shaw and Lauren Hemp, who found chanced hard to come by throughout the game.

It wasn’t a very entertaining game but a rather intense one, with both teams well aware of the quality of their opponents and the dangers that go with that, so it was almost inevitable that the big chances would come from dead-ball situations – and Manchester City were first to take advantage of a set-piece.

First Sabrina D’Angelo pulled a wonderful save to deny Bunny Shaw, then Leah Williamson cleared the ball just before it crossed the line but, eventually, we capitulated when Laia Alexandri reacted first to a loose ball in the penalty box after another corner kick and tucked home from close range.


Like many times in the past, we came alive as soon as we went behind and had a few decent chances to equalize, but Khiara Keating made two superb saves to deny Victoria Pelova and Kim Little, before the goal-line “incident” and the final whistle.

Perhaps it did cross the line and we should have had our goal given, maybe we should have had a penalty, but the hard truth is that we lacked the final pass, the last touch and didn’t truly test Khiara Keating until the final minutes – and that’s not enough. We didn’t deserve to lose the game, but we didn’t necessarily deserve to win it either, and that’s probably the most worrying aspect of all, because the same happened against West Ham, in the league.

These two losses leave us with very little to play for, except for the Conti Cup, and a season that started with so much promise is unfolding as a very disappointing one, not only for the very likely lack of trophies but for the inconsistency on display from the very first day.

All season long, we have been our worst enemy and we regularly ended up fighting two opponents in every game – the real opponent and ourselves.

As I mentioned on the previous episode, the ultimate aim for this season is to grab the second place in the league and make sure that we avoid the first qualifying round in the UWCL, which costed us our place in the group stage this season and had a major impact throughout the year, mentally and physically. With Chelsea marching on and Manchester City undefeated since November, it is not going to be an easy task, especially given our current form.

The hope, of course, is that the team will find the inner resources to fight back and make the most of the nine league games remaining before the end of the season.

We still have a chance to beat both Chelsea and Manchester City, but we will play both games away from home and bringing home the three points would be a major achievement, but Chelsea and Manchester City also play each other before the end of the campaign, meaning that we could still pull it off.

As of today, I simply cannot imagine this team winning at Kingsmeadow or at the Joie Stadium – or even lifting the Conti Cup – but I hope that this fantastic group of players will prove me (and everyone) wrong once again.

We will talk again next week, after the home game against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

Speak to you soon!

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One Response to The Arsenal Women Journal – Another trophy slipping away [ARS 0-1 MCI]

  1. Al m February 12, 2024 at 7:32 pm #

    No trophy’s till JE is gone

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