Arsenal title hopes boosted with Spurs thrashing and Chelsea defeat
Here is the table:
There is some BIG movements in the #BarclaysWSL! 📈
What a #WomensFootballWeekend! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/RtNoZYI1Pz
— Barclays Women’s Super League (@BarclaysWSL) March 26, 2023
Although Arsenal have dropped to fourth place, they are now trailing the top two teams, Manchester United and Manchester City, by three points with a game in hand. Chelsea are two points ahead of Arsenal, also with a game in hand over the Mancunian teams.
Chelsea will be at home to Liverpool on Wed 3 May, while Arsenal will be away to Brighton on Wed 10 May.
That Chelsea defeat has blown the title race wide open:
What a title race. The teams in 3rd & 4th, technically, both still have their destiny in their own hands (game in hand, and Arsenal will play everyone). Man Utd (1st) or Man City (2nd) could win every game they’ve got left and still not win the #BarclaysWSL title, it’s that close
— Tom Garry (@TomJGarry) March 26, 2023
There is even a scenario where all four teams finish on 52 points, which means goal difference might be the tie-breaker.
Here is the current ranking for goal difference:
- Manchester United 42-9 +33
- Arsenal 38-9 +29
- Chelsea 39-14 +25
- Manchester City 34-14 +20
As both Arsenal and Chelsea have a game in hand, they might improve and overtake Manchester United.
The remaining games in all competitions for the four teams is as follows. Arsenal have the toughest schedule, as they still have to play the other three contenders, as well as potential Champions League games.
It will make for a very exciting end of the season, and Arsenal should definitely be in the running for the runner-up place, as the title can only be won if Chelsea drops at least two points. Manchester City is the form team, and the next League game at home is definitely a must-win, followed by the Manchester United away game straight after the international break. The next two League games will be decisive, although if Arsenal qualifies for the Champions League semi-finals, the United game will be postponed.
Getting ready for Bayern second leg
Arsenal were defeated in Munich in a game where they did enough to get at least a draw but lost to a single goal in a very open and entertaining match.
Arsenal fans came in numbers, with 221 away tickets sold, and Caitlin Foord had only words of praise for them in the post-match mixed zone. I asked her if the players heard the fans during the game, as they were loud: “We did, definitely in the warm-up as well, they were up in the top stand, but they made themselves very loud and made us feel like we knew they were there, definitely could feel them pushing through. Obviously, we will have a lot more of them next week at home.”
Arsenal will certainly regret the missed opportunities in that game, but Bayern also should have scored more, with both sides creating multiple clear chances. Here are the highlights:
There were a few controversial moments where VAR could have intervened but did not, to my surprise. The Foord shot that hit Viggosdottir’s arm, shown on the big screen at the stadium, left no doubt about the contact with the defender’s arm.
Then it becomes an interpretation of the handball rule, and its application is not consistent. Had the penalty been given, the defender would likely have been booked and, therefore, suspended for the return leg too.
There was also a call by Jonas Eidevall for a shirt pull on Rafaelle in the penalty area. Another incident missed by the referee but could not be reviewed by VAR was a defender passing the ball to her goalie. It would have been an indirect free-kick on the edge of the six-yard box, there was also controversy about Goal Line Technology as Kumagai cleared a shot on the line. However, with VAR in place, there is no real need for GLT. According to the regulations, GLT is not compulsory and neither is VAR, actually. UEFA has wording using “may” rather than “must.” Bayern did not want to use GLT at the Allianz Arena, and Arsenal will use it at the Emirates Stadium, but at the end of the day, it is not compulsory to use it.
Jonas Eidevall selected the following XI in his usual 4-4-2 formation: Zinsberger; Wienroither, Williamson, Rafaelle, Maritz; McCabe, Wälti, Little, Foord; Maanum, Blackstenius. His formation mirrored Bayern’s one, and it made for a very interesting game, with both sides trying to press the opposition’s central midfielders. Maritz was selected ahead of McCabe at left-back, with the Irish player selected on the right wing ahead of Pelova and Hurtig. The team selected was therefore compact and strong defensively.
Eidevall selecting Zinsberger ahead of D’Angelo reinforced the question about registering a goalkeeper instead of a winger. Although, you can understand why the Brazilian winger would not have been sent on as a sub, even if available. It was interesting to note that Agyemang made the squad after coming back from international duty with the England U-17 team. So, we had a youth player on the bench rather than a senior player. Agyemang is a B-list player, so he was registered separately from the main squad.
In the end, it was certainly a good performance, with the only missing ingredient being a goal. Arsenal outshot Bayern 25 to 15, but the attempts on target were tied at three each. There is no doubt that Arsenal can overturn that lead at the Emirates Stadium next week; all that will be needed is to be clinical in front of the goal and not make many mistakes in defence, as Schüller will certainly score if she gets a couple of chances like she did in the first leg.