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Arsenal Women sign Australian left-back Steph Catley

The Gunners have strengthened their defence, and have added another Matilda

Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Qualifier - Australia v Chinese Taipei Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Arsenal Women have completed the signing of Australian left back Steph Catley. Catley, the vice captain of the Matildas, joins from Melbourne City in the W-League, and had also spent the last two summers at Reign FC in the NWSL. Catley, 26, has also played for the Orlando Pride and Portland Thorns in the NWSL, while was also managed by Joe Montemurro at Melbourne City.

Catley was in demand after announcing she was leaving Reign and heading for Europe with Manchester City and Olympique Lyon in demand of her signature. Her transfer is significant. Catley is one of the better left backs in women’s football, and is an exceptional modern fullback. She is excellent going forward, and is also a good front-foot defender, who has the versatility to play in different roles.

The addition of Catley will enable Katie McCabe, who was Arsenal’s regular left back last season, to play higher up the pitch. McCabe spent Arsenal’s title-winning season in midfield and the front three, and while McCabe adapted well to fullback, Arsenal missed the different capabilities she brings in the forward line.

But it also strengthens Arsenal across the board, adding dynamism to both Arsenal’s defence and attack. In 2018, Catley won over 60% of tackles, and had 3 assists in 17 games. Catley’s crossing and play in the final third is usually very effective; off the back of the play of her and fellow wingback Ellie Carpenter, Melbourne City went unbeaten in winning the W-League this past winter, and Catley’s drive, pace, and precision in the final third was a major component. Specifically, she is good at playing the early ball in the attacking third, something which Arsenal can look to capitalize on with their secondary movement beyond Vivianne Miedema.