Arsenal Ladies lost 1-0 to Birmingham in the FA Cup
- Arsenal ladies dominated
- Gunners were punished for not being clinical enough in front of goal
- Birmingham keeper excellent
Arsenal certainly had enough chances to put the game to bed in the first half, but did not manage to convert any, mainly because Berger in the Blues goal was superb.
The quality of the pitch also did not help and some poor first touches in front of the goal prevented Arsenal’s forwards from getting away clean shots.
Pedro Losa kept the same starting 11 and substitutes from the 10-0 Spurs thrashing as the team is still struggling defensively because of injuries.
Arsenal lined-up in the same 3-4-3 system, while Birmingham City lined-up in 3-5-2.
The line-up was Van Veenendaal; Williamson, Williams, Janssen ; O’Reilly, Nobbs, Little, McCabe; Van De Donk, Taylor, Carter
Sub used: Mead, Kelly
Unused Subs: Moorhouse, Patten and Humphrey
Arsenal dominated the first half, creating chances after chance, but could not convert. The passing and movement were superb at times considering how tight space was in midfield.
There were 1v1 duels on each wing HAO v Williams and McCabe v Mayling and 16 players in the central area.
The five central players and the two wing-backs linked up well together in the first half and pressured Birmingham well. They, in turn, could not find their two forwards, Ayisi and White, who were isolated against Arsenal’s back three.
It was disappointing not to go in at the half-time break with a goal as the team played superb football for 45 minutes and were not rewarded.
The second half started with the same tempo and scheme as Arsenal attacked and Birmingham defended, trying to hit on the break. Arsenal’s intensity started to drop, coinciding with Taylor’s replacement by the ineffective (on the day) Mead who was sent on to left-wing where she could do much damage.
Creativity and movement started to dip and the two wingers were starved of the ball with Birmingham playing a bit higher and contesting the midfield battle more.
Birmingham scored in the 77th minute with their only real shot on target. The ball made it to the byline for a cutback and Arsenal’s defence was caught sleeping.
There were still 13 minutes remaining and Pedro Losa sent Kelly on for Van De Donk who had tried.
That change made sense, but the previous one certainly raises questions as our most creative attacking substitute, who had trained well this week (Humphrey), was kept on the bench and could have been they key to unlocking the Blues’ defence.
At a time when creativity was in short supply and as Little and Nobbs ran up and down the pitch, starting to tire, putting a centre forward on the left-wing did not work at all and the link-up play that Taylor provided also disappeared.
In the end, Arsenal could not break down the Blues’ defence and there was one clear lesson from the game – creating chances is good, taking them is even better. One mistake was made and the team was punished for it.
It was definitely a very unlucky defeat and there are many positives in term of the attacking football played. On another day, there could have been four or five goals scored.
In the Development League, the reserves drew 4-4 against a very strong London Bees team. They now trail leaders Chelsea by eight points with three games in hand.