Club captain, Kim Little was interviewed by the club recently and said that the team needs to be ‘almost perfect’ to pip Chelsea to the title. While this sounds daunting, in this article I’ll cover both the potential stumbling blocks and the potential answers to them.
The first thing the Gunners will need to do is become more fluid in attack on a consistent basis. It is striking that Alessia Russo is a player with an extremely high ceiling. This comes across in her attitude, work rate, and technical ability. Jonas Eidevall recently said that she’s the best finisher he’s ever worked with, and if they find a way to bring the best out of both her and Stina Blackstenius on a regular basis, that’s a winning formula.
We’ve already seen Blackstenius’ impact off the bench and starting in terms of goalscoring, and Russo’s ability to provide pinpoint assists and cutting passes. If they find a way to implement a game plan which works to both of their strengths in different in-game moments, this will be a blueprint for success. Whether this is with them both on the field at the same time or not will depend on the opposition and game plan.
They will also need to tighten up at the back. Arsenal have only kept one clean sheet so far this season, which is a concern. Another concern is that several of the goals the team has conceded this season have been either from set pieces or well-worked moves ending with a ball into the box and good movement from the goal scorer.
Another concern is that several of the goals the team has conceded this season have been either from set pieces or well-worked moves ending with a ball into the box and good movement from the goal scorer. These types of goals, among many other things, are a strength of Chelsea’s so Arsenal will need to be hyper-aware of this on December 10th, when they face them at the Emirates in a potential title decider. Sam Kerr anyone?
The Gunners have also been conceding from turnovers, and once the team has played together more these may be able to be reduced because an awareness of where other players will be on the pitch will develop.
Indeed, Arsenal signed five new players in the summer who have all played at some point so far this season. Jonas Eidevall also revealed that he will be working out his first eleven until Christmas. It therefore seems evident that the group will need to reach a period of stability in order to develop a style of play and relationships on the pitch more coherently.
Given that Arsenal were eliminated from the Champions League earlier in the season, the Conti Cup games will be important for the boss to assess the qualities of the players who haven’t played as much so far in the season. This speaks to the size of the squad, the amount of competition there now is and the potential lack of game time.
The club has also moved away from a ‘first eleven’ as fans like to think of it, and coaches constantly speak about the importance of competition for places in order to elevate the overall standard of the team. The club has significantly backed the manager in terms of players in the summer, and it will take time to reap the rewards of this. The Gunner will hope this comes in time to still be in the title race come the end of the season.