I didn’t need any extra hype to be excited about the game but I must give credit to the Football Association and the mainstream media for really getting being the Women’s Football Weekend as this definitely provided me with an extra buzz.
I had heard that the Merseyside Derby at Anfield had sold out but this wasn’t the whole of the stadium, it was just the limited allocated so I wasn’t sure what how many to expect in North London. I’d parked about fifteen minutes walk from the ground and there weren’t too many fans around. As I approached White Hart Lane station I began to meet a large number of fans also making their way to the ground, as we turn the corner to discover the stadium I found a sea of fans gathering outside. I guestimated that there might have been around 25,000 fans for the game but clearly I was way off!
Despite a couple of airport style security checks, entering the stadium was very easy. I was impressed by the 65m Goal Line Bar and the various food outlets, it looked more like the food court in the Westfield Centre than a football stadium. Often at football grounds I accept that I am going to have a piss poor overpriced beer but not here, I was over the moon to find out that the club had collaborated with Beavertown who have their own microbrewery in the stadium. The state-of-the-art Microbrewery is the only one of its kind inside a football stadium and will be the primary source of craft beer at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Led by Head Brewer Valeria De Petris, the Microbrewery is expected to produce over one million pints per year.
While I tucked into one of the club’s leek and blue cheese pie I was entertained by a beatboxer and a couple of breakdancers. Enough of this though, it was time to find my seat and get ready for kick-off. The atmosphere was already building up, thousands of flags being waved to attract the attention of the staff pitchside with t-shirt cannons, something that I’d not seen since I went to an NBA game five years ago.
The last north London derby was in the 2017 Women’s FA Cup quarter-finals but at that point the sides were poles apart, Spurs languishing in mid-table of the Championship. Today the home side looked very different, their starting line-up included Rachel Furness, Kit Graham, Rianna Dean and former West Ham keeper, Becky Spencer. While Arsenal’s goalscorers two years ago; Danielle van de Donk, Beth Mead, Kim Little and Katie McCabe, were all starting for the visitors.
My prediction prior to the game was that this would end as a 3-0 victory for the red side of North London, but I was pleasantly surprised with how the home side approached the early stages of the first half. Spurs were well organised and clearly knew that they needed to be sensible in their approach otherwise the ruthless Gooners could kill the game early on.
Van de Donk was looking bright and dangerous and in the twelfth minute she passed into space behind the Spurs defence but Miedema was unable to pick up the ball as Spencer collected it and killed off that attack.
While Spurs were solid at the back they were offering little going forward and Dean was generally isolated. As the game developed the home side became more confident and in the 18th minute Graham was put through by Josie Green but Graham’s shot was hit straight at Manuela Zinsberger in the Arsenal goal. A very disappointing effort from someone of Graham’s quality.
On thirty minutes, Furness tried one from distance but her effort went over and failed to trouble Zinsberger.
Both sides went into half time level and on the balance of play I’d suggest that was a fair scoreline, although Graham will have been kicking herself for not giving her side the lead.
The second half followed the same pattern but as the half progressed I had concerns that Spurs were tiring and that they needed to make a change. They didn’t and int he 67th minute the Arsenal captain and Scotland international, Kim Little gave her side the lead, causing wild celebrations from the 3,000 travelling Gooners. I defintely believe that they could have accomodated more away fans but maybe that is something to learn for next time.
Arsenal were now dominating, even if they weren’t creating clear chances. Their second goal was made by the home side when Wales international, Anna Filbey’s weak back-pass was pounced on by Miedema who rounded Spencer and finished well from a tight angle.
In the few year’s that I have been watching women’s football, I have never had the pleasure of watching Joe Montemurro‘s WSL Champions in person and I was so impressed with what I saw! They are a class set up and I am now looking into when they take on Manchester United as that is going to be a cracking game! As for Spurs, they have done themselves proud and hopefully many of the fans there today will be there to pack out The Hive in their next fixture against Brighton on December 8th.