1The penalty shoot-out to defeat to Manchester City on Saturday means the only remaining target for Arsenal’s Women is the League title.
Six games, six finals to be won, although five wins could actually be enough .
There is no doubt that the players gave 100% in the FA WSL Continental Cup final but ended up empty ended after a tense game.
The defensive work-rate was excellent and must be commended.
On the attacking side, we were clearly lacking a spark to illuminate the game.
That’s easy to explain.
Tiredness is clearly affecting the team in terms of creative movement and passing sharpness. Injuries are taking their toll. Arsenal had seven players missing from a twenty-player squad. If Veje and Miedema are added to the injury list in the coming weeks, we will reach another critical alert level, as we experienced back in early December.
In the City away league game, we could not field a full starting 11 of senior players. We had a 17-year-old starting the game, replaced during the game by an 18-year old. The only fit senior player on the bench that day was Sari Van Veenendaal, the goalie.
Let’s also hope that none of our players come back injured from international duty, as they are now travelling around the world.
Our young Academy players have been really good when called upon throughout the season and it is certainly important to give them a chance to learn their trade at first-team level. But we should not be in a situation where they have to perform like the seasoned internationals they are covering for to maintain a winning run.
We started the season with 18 senior players, added two more players during the January transfer window and are still struggling with numbers.
The start of the season, with excellent, fluid attacking football, clearly showed that the coaching staff was 100% right to start with a small squad. Every player was getting a chance to play and the newbies quickly learned how to play with their team-mates.
Multiple injuries have slightly derailed the Arsenal train, but the next six games will make or break the Gunners’ season.
It has to be said that nine points from those six games will guarantee Champions League football for the first time since 2012 when we won the League and therefore played in the 2013/14 edition, where we lost to Birmingham City.
Let’s look at those six must-win games in details, knowing that winning the first five will give us the title…