Gunners Fair is back, and so is the good run of form that had been a bit missing off late for the Arsenal Ladies. 6 matches (5 wins and 1 loss) later, things are definitely back on track for the side currently under interim manager, John Bayer.
Bayer, who has been the technical director of the Ladies’ Centre of Excellence since 2008, is a UEFA ‘A’ License Holder and will be supported by club captain, Kelly Smith who continues her position as assistant player-coach.
The Gunners posted big wins in the Continental Cup against Chelsea Ladies (3-0), London Bees (7-0), and Millwall Lionesses (4-0) to reach the semifinals of the competition. After having started the WSL season with 3 losses and 1 draw, Bayer was quick to point out that getting their league form sorted was their real priority and that Arsenal still haven’t given up hope of challenging this season.
They took the first step towards that when they posted their first WSL win versus the Liverpool Ladies in the first game back after the mid-season break. A second half goal from Casey Stoney was enough for Arsenal to grab 3 points on the day.
However, a loss against Chelsea Ladies in the following WSL game was a bit of a setback. Even Kelly Smith’s well-taken penalty was not enough for the Gunners to escape the 1-2 scoreline against the fellow Londoners who gained crucial points to keep the pressure on at the top. A victory was needed in the next game against bottom-of-the-table Everton, and Arsenal responded with a very crucial late win courtesy of keeper Emma Byrne saving a second half penalty and Alex Scott grabbing a winner in the 84th minute. This keeps them at 7 points from 7 games with half of the season yet to play. Birmingham Ladies sit at the top on 17 points, while Chelsea (14) and Liverpool (12) make up the rest of the top 3.
Arsenal’s next match is against Notts County on July 27. County are currently second to last on 6 points from 6 games. Another win is necessary to build consistent league form, and the Gunners seem to be well focused and determined to make amends for their shaky start. It is however unfortunate that there will be another break after Sunday’s match that will prevent any further progress on the foundation being built for the rest of the season. Arsenal’s WSL match away to Birmingham City on August 10 has been rescheduled owing to the U-20 World Cup that runs from August 5-24 (Arsenal’s Leah Williamson and Jade Bailey are part of the England squad). This means that Arsenal will directly play on August 24 (2pm KO) away to Manchester City Women in the Super League.
There hasn’t been as much activity on the transfer front at the Ladies as their male counterparts, but defender Anouk Hoogendijk re-signed for Ajax, while central midfielder Turid Knaak has joined Arsenal from Bayer Leverkusen on a two month loan, and will be a crucial addition in depth for all the August and September fixtures.
Now for the fan events and summer school news.
Arsenal Ladies are running a variety of camps this summer – soccer school, elite soccer school and goalkeeper soccer school – and all the details can be found here.
This Sunday, before their WSL match against Notts County, the Gunners are hosting a free festival fanzone at Boreham Wood FC for young supporters (boys and girls between 5 and 13 years of age). The Club is teaming up with Arsenal Soccer Schools Hertfordshire and the Herts FA for the event, and it will run from 11.30am to 2pm. Click here for more details and instructions.
Before I finish for the week, here are a few photo galleries for you to enjoy. Arsenal Ladies were the first Arsenal team to wear our new Puma matchday shirt. They wore a limited edition kit for their Continental Cup fixtures against Chelsea and London Bees. Then there was also the matter of a special reception at Islington Town Hall to celebrate their great success at the FA Cup last month. The Ladies won a record 13th FA Cup, and this was the first time Arsenal did an FA Cup double since 1998. And finally, here are a few images from our 0-4 win against the Millwall Lionesses.
For the rest of the season, I am planning some new features for Gunners Fair, so stay tuned!
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.