Arsenal started the women’s Super League title race in spectacular fashion in 2018/19, but the Gunners are moving further and further away from that position – and their 2020/21 hopes are already hanging by a thread ahead of a close clash against Manchester. City.
Manchester United’s sudden leap into the title image this season also means the Gunners, who completely dominated women’s football in England from the early 1990s to the early 2010s, risk ending up outside the top three in the season. elite for only the second time since 1992.
Entering Sunday’s battle with City, Arsenal lag Chelsea and United by nine points. They have two games going on the latter and could theoretically only be three points behind if they win both. They are four points behind City’s third place, again with a game in hand.
But defeat this weekend would open that gap for the Sky Blues to seven points, while also giving Chelsea and United the opportunity to push even further, as both have home games against the opposition that they are. ‘would expect to beat without too much problem.
Arsenal simply need to win, with Champions League football for next season also on the line. The WSL secured a third European qualifying place ahead of the 2021/22 competition and the Gunners having missed out on playing there this season, the pressure is strong to come back.
If Arsenal are to miss a second year in a row, there is a growing risk that players will have their heads turned by clubs that can offer them the Champions League. There has been talk of Lyon sniffing around Vivianne Miedema before, while local star Leah Williamson has also been linked with European giants Barcelona and Wolfsburg, as well as Lyon.
On paper, Arsenal have a squad that should be the envy of most clubs around the world. Miedema was named the second best women’s football in the world in 2020 in The Guardian’s annual roster, while eight other Arsenal players were also in the roster of 100.
Miedema is also still the WSL’s top scorer this season, while Katie McCabe leads the league in assists. But Arsenal’s campaign was once again ravaged by injuries.
Still, the Gunners have faced injury issues in recent seasons, even briefly threatening their 2018/19 title. To compensate, the club have seriously strengthened in depth ahead of the 2020/21 campaign and have brought in six more corps since the summer, while letting go of a handful of fringe players who are no longer in a position to make the impact. wish.
Among the newcomers, goalkeeper Lydia Williams and full-back Steph Catley suffered muscle injuries that limited their playing time. Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little, both of the best in the world when they are in good shape and on the Guardian’s list, also suffered from muscle problems, as did Lisa Evans. Center-back Jennifer Beattie bravely played to keep up with her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, but she wasn’t free from muscle injuries either.
The increase in muscle injuries has become so alarming that manager Joe Montemurro revealed to ArseBlog in October that the club are in the process of conducting a “massive internal review” to resolve the issue.
On the pitch, Arsenal were injured. They were still largely successful in continuing to beat the chasing pack, winning five on the rebound early in the season and scoring 30 goals. But they landed against the toughest sides, losing to Manchester United for the first time in November, conceding a goal against their own side late as they were on track to beat Chelsea later that month and come together. finding themselves in stoppage time to lose to Manchester City in December.
Postponements since Christmas and a draw against Reading in their only game so far in 2021 have not helped them build any kind of momentum and when it comes to the form guide, Arsenal have only won two of his last five WSL games. Out of the same number of games, Chelsea and City each have five wins, while United have four wins.
As City wait for Sunday, unless the wintry weather puts the game at Borehamwood in shambles, Arsenal must rise to the challenge. Otherwise, they’re doomed to another failed season.
For more than Jamie Spencer, follow it on Twitter and Facebook!