Arsenal Women are now one win away from winning their first league title since 2012. Arsenal beat Everton 2-1 last weekend, going up 2-0 in the first half. An own goal from a Beth Mead corner (though the goal has been credited to Louise Quinn) and Vivianne Miedema’s 30th goal of the season, after a quick passing move between Danielle Van de Donk, Miedema and Mead put the Gunners two up before half an hour, and one could be forgiven for thinking Arsenal would go on to run riot. Everton, though, stuck around, and got a goal back shortly after the hour mark. Sari van Veenendaal picked up Leah Williamson’s backpass, and from the indirect free kick, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, who caused Arsenal problems throughout the match, hit a fierce shot that beat three Arsenal players at the near post.
It was very hot, and perhaps that and a combination of nerves contributed to a substandard second half. Arsenal’s movement wasn’t as fluid as we’ve come to expect, the passing was off—several moves breaking down very early—and a side who should’ve been put to the sword were let back into the game. Once Everton got back into it, though, Arsenal’s professionalism came through, and Everton barely had a chance as Arsenal rather comfortably saw out the last half hour, with Arsenal keeping Everton to two shots in the course of the 90 minutes. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but Arsenal have won all the games they have needed to, and a similar performance against Brighton should see Arsenal crowned champions.
Danielle Carter, Viki Schnaderbeck and Tabea Kemme all came on as substitutes, continuing their return from injury, and Emma Mitchell was back in the squad. Only Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, injured during the last injury break, was missing, with Lia Wälti and Jordan Nobbs long-term injuries.
Arsenal now head to Brighton, where they will play Hope Powell’s side at the Amex, the men’s team stadium. With recent record-setting crowds, a big attendance is the goal, and Brighton have made getting tickets extremely accessible. Brighton are 9th in the league, with 13 points. They will play in the FA WSL next season, as the league expands to 12 teams, and were never in any serious doubt of going down. Still, retaining their league place would’ve been the goal for their first season in the top flight, and they’ve given some teams some problems, indeed, even going 1-0 up when the teams met at Boreham Wood in the winter through a counter-attack goal scored by Ini Umotong.
Arsenal have room for error, but will be eager to get all three points, making the final day clash, which has already sold out, with Manchester City a dead rubber. A win for Arsenal means they’re champions; anything less and a City win against Yeovil means Arsenal have to at least draw with City next weekend.
Arsenal’s match with Brighton clashes with the men, but we’ll be sure to have a report on the result on Sunday.
Brighton v Arsenal Women
Sunday April 28, 2019
12:15 PM BST/7:15 AM EDT/4:15 AM PDT
TV: BT Sport 2 (UK)
Little: We know we need to perform and turn up on Sunday
Speaking to the Guardian’s Suzanne Wrack, the Arsenal captain emphasized the necessity of performing well against Brighton: “We know we’ve still got work to do and we’re not there yet... we’re very aware that they have a threat and we need to be at our best to win.” Elsewhere in the article, Little spoke about the destination Arsenal have become for players, and how the players and staff were able to maintain focus even in the face of a huge injury crisis that saw academy players drafted into the starting lineup.
Little, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema were all interviewed by Clare Balding, for the new Channel 4 show, Women’s Football World.
Three Arsenal Players in PFA Team of the Year
Vivianne Miedema, Kim Little and Lia Wälti have all been named in the PFA Women’s Team of the Year. For Miedema, this comes off the back of nomination for both Player and Young Player of the Year, while Little and Wälti both make the team despite missing large parts of the season through injury. Wälti impressed in a holding midfield role, and Little has scored 8 goals and assisted 5 from central midfield. Some Arsenal players could feel as if they’ve been overlooked: Beth Mead is the league’s top creator, with 12 assists, while Leah Williamson has been instrumental, not only to a defence that has conceded the second fewest goals in the league, but also to Arsenal’s passing play from deep.
The PFA Women’s Team of the Year in full: Sophie Baggaley (Bristol City); Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Aoife Mannion (Birmingham), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City); Ji So-yun (Chelsea), Kim Little, Lia Wälti; Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Vivianne Miedema