Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics

FAWSL champions Arsenal Women closed their season in the perfect way, preventing Manchester City Women from completing an unbeaten season.

Substitute Emma Mitchell secured the win after replacing the departing Dominique Bloodworth late on. This ended Joe Montemurro’s first full season in charge of Arsenal. He has won two trophies and taken Arsenal to three cup finals since his appointment in November 2017.

In this clash between the two top FAWSL sides, both teams looked to attack which made for a good showing. Especially in the first half when the free-flowing nature of the game led to numerous chances.

This tactical analysis will examine how Arsenal got on the front foot as well as how Manchester City looked to combat them.

Arsenal Women’s high press

Although Manchester City started the stronger side, Arsenal grew into the game quickly. One way they did this was with their work off the ball.

As has become a theme this season, Arsenal aimed to dominate their opponents both in and out of possession. They did this by pressing the ball high up the pitch which put City under immense pressure.

Leading this was Kim Little. Despite mostly being known as a more creative midfielder, the Arsenal captain played an important combative role on Saturday.

Her work, which was backed up by her teammates, helped Arsenal gain control of the first half and led to big chances being created.

Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Manchester City try to bring the ball out of defence, but Arsenal are well prepared to cause havoc. With four players surrounding the ball, Little feels the time is right to try and steal it.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Little is proved right as she flusters Walsh and wins the 50/50. Even if Walsh had won the ball, the numbers Arsenal had in that area would have made life very hard for her.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
This draws out City’s centre back, Bonner, which in turn creates a massive space in their defensive. Little performs a one-two with Miedema to reach the space.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
In on goal, Little should score but Steph Houghton recovers incredibly well to put her off. The Scot’s shot ends up going straight at Roebuck.

The most impressive thing about this is that this pressing was constant throughout the first half. Even though the league had already been won and it was the final day of the season, it was clear how much beating City meant to the players.

After the game, manager Joe Montemurro spoke on that strategy.

“We play a high-intensity game and winning the ball high upfield is part of our style,” he said.
“City are a very good team and they’ll cut you open if it’s not done right. We were pretty successful with that in the first half and we should’ve scored a few but in the second half they got on top.”

Manchester City Women’s counter attacks

Despite the creation of those chances, Ellie Roebuck stood firm, making four great saves before the break.

Even though Arsenal were on the front foot, Nick Cushing’s Manchester City were still very positive when they were on the ball.

This along with Roebuck’s heroics keeping them in the game and ultimately gave them chances to open the scoring.

Like Arsenal, Manchester City put their attacks together incredibly quickly and most of their best attacks came on the counter.

Here’s how quickly they could break:

Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Roebuck looks to build City’s attack from the back, playing the ball to centre back, Houghton. But under pressure from Miedema she under-hits the pass and Mead intercepts.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Mead’s cross is deflected away from goal but due to the numbers they have upfield, the ball falls to an Arsenal player. Viktoria Schnaderbeck.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
She does well to move the ball from the crowd but Roebuck matches her effort to keep it out.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
From that, Demi Stokes recovers the ball before setting City on the counter. With so many players forward, this is where Arsenal were vulnerable. Jill Scott shows her class by flicking the ball into the highlighted space and continuing the attack.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Scott can’t be caught and then releases Jannie Beckie on the right. The space was created for her as Lauren Hemp occupied both Lisa Evans and Leah Williamson centrally.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Eventually, Williamson leaves Hemp to Evans, supporting Quinn in her efforts to stop Beckie. This does close the angle for the City forward whose shot is easily dealt with. Hemp may have been able to help Beckie more if she made a run to the back post where all the space is. That would’ve given Beckie an option to play the ball across goal.

These breaks proved futile, however, as on her final game for Arsenal, Sari van Veenendaal was alert enough to keep City at bay.

She was quick off her line and made some good reactionary saves to keep the game interesting just like her counterpart, Roebuck.

Second half stalemate

Probably unhappy with the amount of chances Arsenal had in the first half, Cushing made a triple substitution at half time.

On came Georgia Stanway, Pauline Bremer and Megan Campbell. With Stanway slotting into a deeper midfield role and Campbell helping defensively on the left, this made City more solid.

Becoming more solid led to way less chances for both sides in the second half, however.

With more numbers in midfield, Arsenal found it difficult to play through the lines as they also did in the first half. This forced Arsenal to go wide to sustain attacks.

Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Williamson steps into midfield as she didn’t have any immediate passing options. As she goes forward, City’s wide players tuck in, limiting the central passing lanes. This forces her to pass right but Little is taking up a great space behind the City midfield.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
She is found with allows Mead to advance on the right wing, creating a two-on-one. Little plays her in on the wing.
Arsenal Women Manchester City Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
However, filling in at left back, Campbell deals with the threat well.

Arsenal Women find a way through

In the opening exchanges, it was a set piece that got Arsenal into the game and it was the play after a set piece which won them the game.

With the little space centrally, Arsenal began to attack the wide areas with Beth Mead and Katie McCabe. City dealt with this well but it this took Arsenal’s corner tally up to 10 and with a great chance to reach the City goal, this happened:

Summary

Arsenal’s win over City was the perfect way to end the season. They’ve been Arsenal’s closest challengers and were the first team to beat the Gunners this year and beat them in the Continental Cup final. Along with that, they had the chance to end the FAWSL unbeaten but Arsenal were able to pull through.

With the FAWSL season now over, Joe Montemurro and his Arsenal side can be immensely proud of their achievement, driving to their first league title in seven years with an unwavering style of play and many adversities injury-wise on the way. How they respond to this with Champions League football next season will be a great watch.


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