Arsenal Women continued to keep pace with Manchester City Women atop the FAWSL. A 3-0 win over Yeovil Town kept Arsenal just two points behind leaders City with two games in hand.

The result also saw Joe Montemurro’s side bounce back from a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea Women on the weekend. This tactical analysis will look at what made the difference for Arsenal against Yeovil.

Early dominance doesn’t pay

As expected, Arsenal dominated proceedings. Over the course of the game, they had 67% possession and peppered the Yeovil goal with 27 shots. As for Yeovil, they failed to call Van Veenendaal into action in 90 minutes.

Despite all their possession, Arsenal found it hard to break Yeovil down. With the visitors sitting rock bottom in the FAWSL, they weren’t looking to be opened up. Therefore, they tried to keep as narrow and compact as possible. However, Arsenal were able to find a way to start creating good chances.

Little finding spaces

A key to Arsenal’s play this season has been runners from midfield. Playing with one striker in Vivianne Miedema gives them more options going forward. Not only that, but it also gives defences headaches as to who to cover.

This allows Arsenal to take advantage of spaces that are subsequently created. Midfielders Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Van de Donk and Kim Little have been best at attacking those spaces this season. On Wednesday, it was Little that took on that responsibility along with Arsenal’s wingers.

Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Arnth (right-back) holds her width. This draws out Yeovil’s left-back, creating space for Lisa Evans (right wing) to run into.
Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
As Evans takes the ball, Yeovil’s defence becomes preoccupied with Miedema, which is understandable as she has 25 goals in all competitions. But this opens space in behind for Little to take up.

On that occasion, Little’s effort was stopped but this didn’t stop her. In the first half, she kept making forward runs which resulted in shots. Although the teams went in goalless at the break, carrying on in the second-half led to the breakthrough. Katie McCabe’s introduction also helped with this as she added an extra sense of trickery to attacks.

Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Little is able to find space on the edge of the box. With McCabe dummying before her pass, this gives Little more time.
Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
This allows Little to stand up her marker before shifting the ball across her body.
Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
With Yeovil packing the box, Little’s shot is deflected but thankfully hits the back of the net.

Here, we saw how important Arsenal’s supporting cast is. Miedema may take most of the headlines due to her goal tally, but the work that’s done around her helps the side massively.

Mead makes the difference

This season, that has also been reflected in Beth Mead’s performances. A striker by trade, she’s been best this season on the wings. However, rather than down tools, she’s made the wing another domain that she can occupy with ease.

Before this round of games, that was proven as she had the most assists in the FAWSL (nine). Playing off the wing again against Yeovil, she also bounced back after missing a few chances against Chelsea at the weekend.

Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, she shows she’s comfortable being shown to the byline. Defenders will usually feel this nullifies a winger’s threat.
Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
However, being a striker with an eye for goal, Mead sees a chance to shoot. Catching Yeovil off guard, she lifts the ball towards goal.
Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis Statistics
Showing her true striking instincts, she’s rewarded by finding the net.

Another aspect of Mead’s wing play that has impressed this season is her directness. She’s able to fix defenders and pass them at pace.

Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Mead breezes past a couple of Yeovil defenders and makes her way into the box.
Arsenal Women Yeovil Town Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Yeovil do well to retreat quickly, but as Mead looks for another opening, she is brought down.

With Yeovil staying in the game for the best part of an hour, Arsenal’s constant rotations and forward movements were key to coming out on top.

The Continental Cup Final

Against Chelsea, McCabe and Mead were also involved throughout. However, despite getting into good positions they couldn’t quite capitalise. Going into the Continental Cup final tomorrow against Man City, this could be the perfect boost. Scoring goals again, that could create the necessary momentum to get over the line.

Arsenal’s squad is currently very threadbare, however. Following their FA Cup exit at the weekend, manager Joe Montemurro did say that he has 12-13 fit players to choose from each week. Therefore, the depth of the two squads could end up being the difference tomorrow.

This was the case in December when Man City Women handed Arsenal their first defeat of the season. That day, a full FAWSL debut was given to Paige Bailey-Gayle. However, despite having key players like Jordan Nobbs and Lia Walti out injured, Arsenal will still be confident that they can win the Continental Cup for the second year running.

Last year they also met City in the final. Miedema scored the only goal of the game, something that Arsenal fans would take this weekend. Even if they don’t win the Continental Cup though, there is a strong chance they can go for the league.

Montemurro’s side have been the team to watch this season. They are the league’s top scorers with 53 goals and should they win both their games in hand over City, they will be four points clear. But until those games are played, it’ll be a very tense end to the season for Arsenal.


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