UK time is: 01:43:06
Vital Login
Social Login

Choose your club

Other Sites

Network Navigation

Vital Partners

'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Ladies and Reserves Column #16

Tumbleweed might be blowing across the fields of London Colney at the moment, but the club still has activity a plenty. Beginning with the Arsenal Ladies and last night, they faced Bristol Academy in the WSL in front of ESPN`s live cameras. Things have been difficult for Laura Harvey`s side of late as injuries and a congested fixture list have caught up with them. They travelled to the West Country having won just once in their last five games- taking in a couple of semi final defeats along the way. They had also only managed one clean sheet in their last ten outings.

With Birmingham breathing down their necks, three points off the Gunners at the top and facing Chelsea tonight, Arsenal needed the points to get their season back on track. Once again, midfield lynchpin Jayne Ludlow was not fit enough to anchor the midfield having been rushed back from a claf injury, so Steph Houghton undertook that duty. Steph had been an attacking right back but has converted into midfield since the re-signing of Alex Scott. Julie Fleeting is still on maternity leave, Kelly Smith is not back in full training until July and Ellen White`s back injury keeps her out. (Though Ludlow and White could be back for the Chelsea game). As a result, Arsenal are generally playing without a fixed striker and relying on Kim Little`s goals from central midfield.

Last night Jordan Nobbs played the central striker role. Bristol coach Mark Sampson committed tactical suicide by lining up with a back three. Given that Arsenal`s threat comes mainly from their flanks in a front three, it caused them problems all night. With the injury problems upfront, Gemma Davison has been given a chance to shine in the absence of Ellie White and her electrifying pace ripped The Vixens (Bristol`s genuine nickname) to shreds. Davison and Yankey swapped flanks, but it was from the right she wreaked most havoc. Arsenal were denied a clear penalty after Jemma Rose clearly handled Yankey`s cross inside the area. Bristol`s harrying game was dealt a blow when tenacious midfielder Alex Windell twisted her knee and was replaced after 22 minutes. Yankey twice found herself denied from close range by Siobhan Chamberlain.

But Arsenal eased themselves into a first half lead in controversial circumstances. Katy Chapman won a typically well timed challenge on Dutch international Jess Fishlock, but as the pair fell to the ground, Chapman accidentally caught Fishlock in the face with her boot as both tumbled. Chapman waved the referee to alert him to the head injury but he didn`t comply. Arsenal played on, Houghton slipping the ball into the right channel for Davison and she smashed a no nonsense finish across Chamberlain and into the top corner. Davison`s superhuman pace had Bristol backing off all evening long and Davison assisted the second.

She lead a breakaway down the right hand side, motoring past ex Arsenal defender Angharad James before sliding a low cross to the back post. Here, Jordan Nobbs had time to control and pick her spot in the bottom corner. Nobbs ought to have made it 3 right on half time too, but she blazed another low Davison cross over the bar from close range. The second half performance was more controlled. Chamberlain again made good saves from Yankey and Little. Bristol obviously decided damage limitation was in order as they moved their wide players back to virtual full backs to counter the threat posed by Davison. But they couldn`t stop the 25 year old laying on the 3rd goal in the final minute, as she again roasted poor left back Corrine Yorston and cut the ball back for substitute Jennifer Beattie to side foot into the net.

Since her spring move from the States, Davison has had a tough time at Arsenal. Behind the free scoring Ellie White on the right and unable to dislodge the experienced Rachel Yankey on the left. I spoke to Ciara Grant a few weeks back and she had said she felt Davison would be a regular soon enough. I find it difficult to imagine there is a faster player in the WSL and, pleasingly, she appears to have a great touch too, which makes the option to switch play to her on the flank an inviting one. Every time she got the ball in midfield last night, Houghton was looking for the diagonal to Davison. Much like Walcott in the men`s side I suppose, her pace offers a threat that opposing defences don`t like to handle. The danger is, if opposing teams double up on her, Arsenal have runners from midfield such as Little and Houghton who are athletic enough to run into any extra space. Ditto Alex Scott, whose overlapping runs from right back also present a danger to other defences.

Elsewhere in the women`s game, Birmingham City won a thoroughly absorbing F.A. Cup Final on penalties against Chelsea at Ashton Gate on Saturday. Birmingham twice came from behind to force a shootout. Ex Arsenal keeper Rebecca Spencer saved Gemma Bonner`s spot kick, whilst another ex Gunner, Karen Carney, tucked away the Blues` final conversion. The F.A. will however be slightly concerned by this year`s attendance at Ashton Gate, which was recorded as 8,723. This compared to last year`s 13,885 that saw Arsenal beat Bristol Academy at the Ricoh Arena in 2011 and the 17,505 that converged on the City Ground in 2010 as Everton beat Arsenal in the Final.

On one hand, the fact that Arsenal were not in the Final will have hit the attendance. Arsenal have a big fanbase all over the country and a successful women`s team to boot, which brings out the neutrals. Last night`s game for instance attracted a 1,100 crowd. Bristol normally get around 300 and this match was on TV to boot. But it might be instructive to the F.A. when deciding venues for the Final. Around ten years ago, nearly all of the finals were hosted in London (particularly South London- I saw Arsenal Ladies collect the Cup at The Den, The Valley and Selhurst Park in my teenage years). It`s understandable that the F.A. want to get it out on the road and spread the appeal of the women`s game. But logistically, Birmingham and Chelsea`s support bases are a long way from Bristol. Maybe I`m missing something but I can`t imagine hosting a Ladies Cup Final requires too much in terms of security planning. Perhaps a more compromised sort of decision could be reached later in the day to at least mitigate the prospect of a low crowd.

Arsenal`s next game is on Sunday, 10th June against Chelsea in the Continental Cup. The game is at Borehamwood`s Meadow Lane with tickets 5 adults and 2.50 concessions. The next WSL fixture will be against title rivals Birmingham City at Borehamwood on Sunday, 24th June, same kickoff time, same venue, same price! This game will also be screened live by ESPN, who have approached covering women`s games in a similar manner o that which Setanta used to cover Blue Star Premier games. That is to say, they interview managers in match, as well as other figures from the participating clubs. Ellie White was spoken to during the transmission of the second half, as was Bristol Academy`s President Simon Arnold. Arnold interestingly said Bristol`s aim was to have a first team squad entirely forged from the youth academy in the next 5 years. More next week. ESPN also have a WSL highlights show on Tuesday nights at 7pm, whilst the WSL site has worked hard plugging it's YouTube channel featuring goal round ups, which can be found here LD.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

Use your social login to comment on front page articles. Login using you Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn accounts and have your say!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday May 31 2012

Time: 12:46PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Sorry the first post is off topic, but can you believe they let a ***t like Pullis carry the Olympic torch?
Scotch Eggs Rule
Report Abuse
31/05/2012 13:04:00

At least, he did well to do so without his crappy face cap.
Report Abuse
01/06/2012 13:10:00

Bak on topic; I wonder where Birmingham ladies came from. In the Ladies games in England, it had always been Chelsea or Everton giving us competition. Now, we have to worry about the likes of Birmingham and Bristol Rovers? Just means we need to shift another gear.
Report Abuse
01/06/2012 13:13:00

They will, the hallmark of great teams is how they react to adversity. Although if they keep losing their best players (does that sound familiar) to other leagues and richer clubs (oh the irony) then they will struggle as they have this season, relatively speaking.
Scotch Eggs Rule
Report Abuse
01/06/2012 13:20:00


Have Your Say

Log in...
with your social network     OR     with your Vital account

Recent Arsenal Articles

Jebb Loaned To Stevenage (Thursday March 26 2015)

Walcott Rubbishes Wenger Bust Up Talk (Thursday March 26 2015)

Ozil's On Right Path (Thursday March 26 2015)

Akpom Leaves For Forest Loan (Thursday March 26 2015)

Rambo Lauds The Power of Le Coq (Thursday March 26 2015)

Ajayi Leaves For Cardiff (Wednesday March 25 2015)

Wenger Back In For Smalling? (Wednesday March 25 2015)

Arsenal's International Call Ups (Tuesday March 24 2015)

Archived Arsenal Articles

List All Vital Arsenal Articles
Have your say
Click here to suggest an article
Click here to suggest a poll
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

Vital Members League (view all)

1. Amos. 46
2. Naijagunner 42
3. Galway Gooner 16
4. Wyn Mills 16
5. Guyfox 11
6. Rocky7 8
7. shewore 8
8. paul_ownz 7
9. Joe_@** 5
10. Nwankwo25 4

League Table (view table)

Team P W D L GD Pts
1. Chelsea 29 20 7 2 +36 67
2. Man City 30 18 7 5 +34 61
3. Arsenal 30 18 6 6 +27 60
4. Man Utd 30 17 8 5 +25 59
5. Liverpool 30 16 6 8 +12 54
6. Southampton 30 16 5 9 +21 53
7. Spurs 30 16 5 9 +5 53

Breaking League News

Leicester Ticket Prices Too High?
Leicester City : 27/03/2015 20:50:01
Hull Get Pathetic FA Charge
Hull City : 27/03/2015 20:41:00
Liverpool: Pjanic Speculation Growing
Liverpool : 27/03/2015 19:36:00
Stoke's March goal of the month
Stoke : 27/03/2015 19:24:00
Adam wins Crystal Palace man of the match poll
Stoke : 27/03/2015 19:18:00

Current Site Poll (view all polls)

Newcastle MotM
Suggested By:  Site Staff
Ospina 8%
Chambers 0%
Gabriel 8%
Koscielny 2%
Monreal 0%
Ramsey 0%
Coquelin 13%
Sanchez 2%
Cazorla 8%
Welbeck 2%
Giroud 57%
Sub - Flamini 0%
Sub - Rosicky 0%
Sub - Bellerin 0%