Arsenal Ladies and Seattle Reign drew the first ever game between an NWSL and a FA WSL side in a highly entertaining contest where both sides dominated one half of the game.
Pedro Losa selected an experimental side as some senior players did not make the trip to the USA, giving a first game in 2016 to many players.
He went in a 4-1-4-1 formation:
Byrne, Williamson Rose Henning Mitchell, Janssen, Corredera Nobbs Losada Carter, Taylor.
Seattle Reign are in middle of their season and have a derby against the Portland Thorns on Sunday and therefore did not play the whole game at full pace. They had all their British players on show with Scots, Little and Corsie, as well as Welsh midfielder Fishlock who was back from injury.
The Reign put the Ladies under a lot of pressure in the first half with a high pressing while Arsenal tried to do the same with less impact. It meant both wingers were pushed and attacking from deeper positions especially the in-form Carter who was causing havoc on the left wing but too far from Solo’s goal.
Poor Corredera was left isolated on the right wing with the ball rarely coming her way and Taylor up front was also starved of decent service. It will take some time to see Taylor adjust to the Arsenal way of playing and the 45 minutes on the pitch reinforced the notion that there is work to be done in training.
The centre back pairing of Henning and Rose was interesting to watch as it could be an alternative to the now first-choice of Henning and Stoney should one of those two players loose form, get injured or suspended. The Reign tried to get in behind the pair a few times with diagonal passes and succeeded for the opening goal.
Losada was floating most of the time between the Reign midfield and defensive lines but the ball did not reach her very often because of the Reign high press. So with three players out of the thick of the action most of the first half Arsenal struggled and Reign dominated.
Poor Williamson was also out of the action early in the game with a bad ankle injury that needed the stretcher to come out and Scott was sent in at the right-back position.
With the team 1-0 down at half-time Pedro Losa made four changes in order to give all the players game time: in came Van Veenendaal, Oshoala, Pablos Sanchon and Van de Donk and off went Byrne, Taylor, Janssen and Carter.
The line-up was therefore: Van Veenendaal, Scott Henning Rose Mitchell, Nobbs Losada Van de Donk, Oshoala Pablos Sanchon Corredera. This led to problems in certain defensive transitions where the three midfields had abandoned the defence to join into the attack.
Reign made also a raft of substitution and with Little and Fishlock gone, their midfield pressing did not have the same quality and intensity and Arsenal took control of the second half of the game.
They were rewarded with a penalty for a foul on Van de Donk that Pablos Sanchon put away for the equaliser 1-1. It looked quite obvious to me that Pablos Sanchon is much more integrated in the attacking system than any other striker used up front this season. Why she does not get more playing time is a mystery.
There was also time to welcome back Chloe Kelly who has been out with injury for a long long time and she came on for Corredera with 12 minutes to go.
Arsenal created enough chances to win the game but it was not to be and the game ended with the 1-1 scoreline.
Hopefully we will see more FA WSL v NWSL ties in the next future and by 2017 let’s hope that FIFA will have found available dates to launch the FIFA Women’s Club World Cup because seeing Lyon, the new Champions League winners, against Japanese, South American and NWSL teams alongside maybe a FA WSL team would be great for women’s football development.