January 5, 2020 by Stephen L Wright
It was always going to be a challenge against Arsenal, that much is a given.
In the first game of the new decade Arsenal set out their stall early as they took the game to Blues. From their attitude and crispness, and Blues’ giving them plenty of room in the final third, you could see an early goal coming. So it did in the 9th minute as Arsenal skipper Kim Little headed past Hannah Hampton.
The pressure stayed on but Blues dug deep and drove into the Arsenal final third only to lose possession too cheaply time and again. That said, and this is where I think Arsenal gave them a lesson in tactical football, there were always at least two Arsenal players closing down the player in possession. This was something, and has tended to be a factor, missing in Blues’ strategy. Consequently, Arsenal kept good possession, dominated midfield and Blues’ final third. The second goal came in the 23rd minute from a lovely weighted ball from Leah Williamson to Jordan Nobbs who lobbed the ball over the head of Hampton. And there could have been a flurry of goals after that as Blues got caught in their 18 yard box and failed to clear their lines.
After the break it was something of a different story as Blues showed much more grit and fight. Good scoring chances came, one or two through poor Arsenal play in defence, but were squandered.
Fresh legs in the form of Sarah Mayling, Connie Scofield and Laura Brown added some impetus but Arsenal were always the dominant side.
All in all, against the league leaders, it wasn’t a bad result. My POTM goes to Lily Simkin. She played another calculated game with only a couple of hiccups. She was determined in the challenge, found space to receive a pass and played some great connecting football.
We’re on the road again next Sunday at Reading.