Arsenal Women couldn’t capitalise on their recent good form, failing to get the three points at bottom of the table Yeovil in a poor 0-0 draw.
It was an unexpected setback following that important midweek win against Reading. Unfortunately, an average performance on the day, combined with resolute defending from Yeovil and an excellent showing from Walsh in goal, meant a disappointing 0-0 result.
Arsenal certainly had enough chances to win the game but for Walsh’s excellent saves and an evident lack of sharpness in front of the goal. The final ball was also found wanting on many occasions. You can’t win when those ingredients are missing.
For long parts of the game, the overall off-the-ball movement was not good enough. When you are playing a reinforced defense, you need the tools to break it down. There is no doubt that it was a tough ask to beat a defensive unit that was defending really deep inside their own territory. But you would have expected a better showing from certain players.
The first half was actually the better one in term of chances created, with Mead, Carter and Van De Donk getting some good shots on goals. Set pieces were also utilised well, with Quinn being the target on corners.
The second half saw Arsenal try everything to get the winning goal, but the attacking players, bar Little and Nobbs, all seemed to run out of steam.
It looked really disjointed at times, with a lack of one or two-touch play, triangles and cross-field passes. McCabe also did not offer enough support on the left wing, while Evans tried hard but sometimes her crossing was not accurate enough.
This game is clearly a turning point for the Gunners’ League campaign as they have handed the initiative back to Chelsea and Manchester City.
Joe Montemurro had decided to rotate his team a bit after the Reading game and rightly so, as Liverpool will come to Borehamwood on Tuesday.
In the usual 4-3-3 he selected: Anna Moorhouse; Lisa Evans, Leah Williamson, Louise Quinn, Katie McCabe; Dominique Janssen, Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Van De Donk; Heather O’Reilly, Danielle Carter, Bethany Mead
Leah Williamson was subbed in the first half following an injury on an attacking corner. It looked a muscular one as she was able to hobble off to the bench slowly. Hopefully, it will be a short term injury because it exposed the clear lack of depth in certain positions, specifically at centre-back and defensive midfield.
It is important to note that Arsenal had young centre-back Shannon Cooke and young defensive midfielder Ava Kuyken available on the bench. If Joe Montemurro wanted to make a like for like substitution, he could have put one of these two youngsters in.
Instead, he went for Kim Little, a world class player of course. Dominique Janssen went to centre-back and Danielle Van De Donk in the defensive midfieder position.
Early in the second half, Anna Miedema came on for Heather O’Reilly, but was not able to influence the play. She was isolated in the middle of the reinforced Yeovil defense. It seems a recurrent theme at times, and the players don’t seem to be on the same wavelength as the talented Dutch striker.
With the two wingers tiring late in the second half, there was an option to send the England u19 winger Jess N’Gunga to try to get a breakthrough, but the youngster stayed on the bench like her team-mates from the development squad.
Overall, it was a frustrating afternoon and the fact we ended up with the goalie Anna Moorhouse going forward on the final corner to try to get the win sums up the afternoon. Credit to Yeovil for their ferocious defending as they put their bodies on the line time and time again, and fully deserved their point.
We will now have to hope that Chelsea and Manchester City slip up a couple of times to have a chance of a top two finish.