Arsenal Women drew with Bristol City Ladies and have possibly waved goodbye to the FA WSL title for another season.
It does feel like groundhog day, as back in 2016 Arsenal’s title challenge evaporated after three games. The Gunners suffered defeat to Manchester City and Chelsea and never recovered from the initial hiccup.
There is nothing definitive as both Chelsea and Manchester City can drop points, but the five-point gap means the two sides need to lose two games for Arsenal to stand a chance of catching up.
History is not our favour at all as such a comeback rarely happens in the WSL. City finished unbeaten in 2016 and no one won the title with more than two defeats. With five points dropped already, Arsenal are hoping for something of a miracle to finish top of the pack now.
So now fans are talking about letting the manager go as a result of their failures in recent years. I think it is a bit premature, however. I believe his departure is not needed at this stage of the season.
I can surely see it happening at the end of the campaign if the club fails to qualify for the Champions League, however. Unless there is a world-class manager available, I cannot see the club acting swiftly.
The last time the team was in turmoil, the manager resigned. Shelley Kerr was not let go despite enduring a turbulent time at the helm in 2014. She tried her best to improve the club and faced a dressing room revolt. The club still stuck by her. It’s in their nature.
I feel the only possible and logical choice right now would be to promote Kelly Smith who manages the Development Team. If she is ready to take on the big job, of course. Arsenal need to turn things around quickly as they risk being left behind.
Arsenal Women have not qualified for the Champions League since 2012, and under Pedro Losa there have been two full seasons with failure to qualify for opposing reasons, in my opinion.
In 2015, the club was unbeaten at the World Cup break, but lack of depth in the squad meant the title challenge could not be sustained due to many injuries. In 2016, it was the opposite problem.
The squad was clearly too big, some players were not pulling their weight and the constant squad rotation mixed with many tactical systems led to a collapse.
It is interesting to note that Arsenal Women finished unbeaten in the 2017 Spring Series, thanks to the unlikely pairing of England u19 youngsters Patten and Wubben-Moy as all the senior defenders were injured.
Maybe, the secret for success resides in a stable starting XI and tactics? However, it does not seem to be Pedro Losa’s way. If the team does not improve quickly, fans calling for his head to roll will be louder and louder and the club does not need this.