The Arsenal Women Journal – Champions League bound! [ARS 5-0 BRI, ARS 3-0 LEI

Good morning, Arsenal Women aficionados!

It’s been three weeks since we spoke, and during that time our girls stomped on both Bristol City and Leicester at home with an overall score of 8-0 and both Beth Mead and Alessia Russo catching fire in front of goal.


Unfortunately, none of Manchester City and Chelsea slipped along the way, which means that hopes of snatching the 2nd place are very slim, considering that we are six points off with three games to go. Of course, we still have the head-to-head against Manchester City on May 5th, but our role is the one of kingmakers more than anything else, which is quite depressing if I am being honest.

I cannot see Manchester City leaving points against Bristol City or Aston Villa, which makes our great showdown a matter of handing the title to Chelsea and pooping all over Manchester City party, rather than fighting to catch the second spot in the league. Chelsea might still lose points against Liverpool or Tottenham, but in the likely event that they don’t, us winning against Manchester City would be a huge favour to Emma Hayes and her troops, which I don’t look forward to.

We truly shouldn’t be in this position, at this stage. We should be going toe to toe with them, battling for the title instead of choosing the worst possible option. How sad.

Anyway, let’s try to focus on the positives: the win against Leicester City, paired up with Manchester City drawing against Spurs, means that we have sealed the third place and the last spot to qualify for next year’s UWCL – although via the excruciating qualifying rounds early next summer.

The next three games become then a free run until the official end of the campaign and a nice platform to evaluate the squad in its entirety, before shaping up the team for next year.

In that regard, the return from injury of Laura Wienroither during the home game against Bristol City was a great boost, with the Austrian expected to battle with the impressive Emily Fox for the right-back position. The US international is Jonas Eidevall’s first choice when fit, but so was Noëlle Maritz before Laura Wienroither displaced her with a string of superb performances. Assuming she can have a full pre-season, I wouldn’t dare to write her off.

The biggest question-mark remains the role of Vivianne Miedema, though, with the Dutch international just back with a knee injury and somehow more and more peripheral since Jonas Eidevall took over. I am not implying anything, of course, but her preferred role behind the striker is getting more and more crowded, with Alessia Russo and Frida Maanum already battling to make it theirs. I am not sure whether Jonas Eidevall sees Vivianne Miedema more as a nine or a ten, or whether he wants to build on her and Alessia Russo interchanging positions, but I have this gut feeling that the former Bayern Munich superstar is growing frustrated with the situation and might not be around, next summer.

Losing her would be a major blow, so I hope that Jonas Eidevall has a clear plan to involve her and make Vivianne Miedema the centrepiece she deserves to be – regardless of who is playing around her. Fitting Russo, Miedema, Maanum, Mead, Foord and Pelova in the same starting XI is quite a challenge but would represent an instant winning formula, as I cannot think of a team able to contain all of them simultaneously.

That’s all speculation, of course, so let’s leave this aside for the time being and concentrate on other positive aspects of the back-to-back home wins against Bristol City and Leicester, at the Emirates Stadium.

One of the brightest spots were Beth Mead’s back-to-back braces, which brought her to 11 goals and assists in 13 league starts, astonishing numbers from an astonishing player. Not far behind is Alessia Russo, who scored twice against Bristol City and added another one against Leicester, amassing 13 goals and assists in 17 starts. Our firepower upfront has always been apparent, but it is not until the final games of the season that we get to truly appreciate how good this team could be, when in full swing.


The uncontested positive, though, was Frida Maanum’s return after her incident and the reception from the over forty-thousands fans at the Emirates Stadium couldn’t be warmer and louder. The Norwegian was substituted in with half an hour to go and looked sharp as usual, seemingly unaffected by what happened during the Conti Cup final. Hopefully she can put everything behind her and finish the season strongly, going into the summer full of energy.


I truly don’t know how to approach the final three games of the season and I am torn between the “what ifs” and still enjoying some stress-free football. On one hand, I struggle to digest the fact that we are out of the title race so early, especially when I see the team play some of the best football of the entire season, but on the other hand I am eager to see how the players will finish the season, how much impact these final three games will have on Jonas Eidevall’s decisions and, most importantly, whether or not the Swede head coach is already experimenting with his players to prepare for next season.

Next up is Everton away, with the Toffees who just won at Brighton and will want to push as much as possible to catch the Seagulls and even Aston Villa in front of them. On paper, this is a game that Leah Williamson & Co. should win rather easily, but minds might be wandering around with Manchester City away just around the corner. With both teams without much to play for, the game could either become a slow, end of the season friendly or a fun affair, with both sets of players loosening up with so less at stakes.

Let’s hope for another win and another fun afternoon, hopefully our girls will go out on the pitch and enjoy themselves.

Speak to you soon!

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