When the FA WSL was formed in 2011, Arsenal Ladies were a dominant force in women’s football and now they’re a shadow of their former selves – what happened?

The Arsenal Women have had a rich history since their inception 30 years ago.

Back in 2011, when the FA WSL was created, the Arsenal were the dominant team, winning regular titles and cups. That domination was one of the reasons behind the FA implementing changes in order to make the league more competitive.

It must be said, thanks to Vic Akers and the Arsenal board, the Ladies team, as it was called at the time, received strong financial backing, which allowed quality players to be signed. For example, at one time, the England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland captains were all playing for the club at the top of their game.


Seasons 2011-12: The Laura Harvey years

Quite simply the best FA WSL years for the Arsenal Ladies were 2011-12.

Basically, the club carried on dominating the FA WSL the same way as they had dominated the FA Women’s Premier League.

Laura Harvey led the club to two consecutive titles and Champions League semi-finals.

At the time, the whole League was semi-professional with teams still training only twice a week, therefore Arsenal took advantage of their superior squad quality and excellent management under Laura Harvey.

laura harvey
COVENTRY, ENGLAND – MAY 21: Arsenal manager Laura Harvey shouts the orders during the Women’s FA Cup Final between Arsenal LFC and Bristol Academy at The Ricoh Arena on May 21, 2011 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images)

At the end of the 2012 season, Laura Harvey left the club to coach in the newly formed NWSL in the USA and had have five very successful seasons over there as the general manager and coach of Seattle Reign.

Honours in that period:

  • FA WSL 2011, 2012
  • FA Women’s Cup 2010-11
  • FA WSL Continental Cup 2011, 2012

League record:

  • 2011: P14 W10 D2 L2, 32 points, finished 1st
  • 2012: P14 W10 D4 L0 (unbeaten), 34 points, finished 1st