September 23rd sees the WSL begin its reimagination as a winter competition and if the recent Spring Series and Euro2017 is anything to go by, then Arsenal Ladies are well placed to return to the summit.
Pedro Martinez Losa seems to finally have grown a team that can challenge the might of Manchester City and Chelsea, with his team peppered with international class throughout.
The Spring Series, which acted as a filler for the change in the fixture calendar, saw Chelsea and City take the top two spots, but the Gunners unbeaten record belied their bronze position in the table. As well as being undefeated, they also reminded Chelsea and City of their strength in their respective matches, with a 1-0 win at the Academy Stadium being City’s first defeat at home in quite some time.
It isn’t just prior form that sees Losa’s squad well placed for a title tilt. The recent Euro2017 championship was illuminated by the home side, with the Netherlands firing on all cylinders thanks to Gunners players Danielle Van De Donk, Vivianne Miedema and goalkeepr Sari Van Veenendaal all adding to the Oranje cause. There was one other Gunner in the squad too, with Dominique Janssen, so Arsenal are well stocked.
That is just one nation however. USA midfielder Heather O’Reilly adds a wealth of experience to midfield, Jodie Taylor showed her pedigree in acquiring the Euro2017 Golden Boot, Danielle Carter is more than adept at plundering goals in the WSL, Jordan Nobbs is one of the leading lights for England, and with Kim Little returning to the Arsenal shirt, Losa has a few selection headaches to deal with.
Arsenal Ladies have not won the title since 2012, and for the sport’s most successful side, that is something that must change. By acquiring these talents, he has a great chance to bring a title back that has not graced the Arsenal Ladies trophy cabinet since 2012.
There are two big reasons why five years has passed since Arsenal lifted the title however. City and Chelsea have been bolstered by great levels of funding and have used the funds well, their squads bulging with talent too.
Chelsea can look to Fran Kirby, Katie Chapman, Eni Aluko, Crystal Dunn and Millie Bright to fire them to another championship. The Citizens have Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Carli Lloyd to name but three. City are also intent on blazing a trail through Europe which only Arsenal have ever done, so the Gunners will again need to be at their best.
This coming season though, is the first time in a while that Arsenal Ladies can confidently boast of a lineup that can match – or even better – City’s and Chelsea’s. It is players that win titles, and Losa’s team should be rightly viewed as one of the frontrunners.
Can Arsenal’s rivals boast of a player as technically brilliant as Van De Donk? Are any players in the WSL as blessed with attacking verve as Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs?
So Arsenal have the quality they need in abundance, now it is all down to Losa to show he can rangle the team together in such a way that optimises these women and their skills. If he can find that magic formula, then surely City and Chelsea will fall by the Gunner’s blast?
If Arsenal have to wait another year for the title, with this squad, then Losa will have failed to make the most of a golden chance. Not only that, but some of the bigger names may well see the packed trophy cabinet at other clubs – even Europe may come calling after Toni Duggan left for Barca – and jump ship.
This season will need to be maximised if Arsenal are to go on and build another great era of success. This coming campaign is a precipice of where Arsenal will stand in the next five or so years.
If the title is won, then the Gunners are back where they belong.