Tag Archives: Ladies

Thank You, Vic Akers

It isn’t just Arsene Wenger that deserves a fitting send-off.

How’s about an Islington born boy who has been at the club in numerous capacities since 1986, making the newly formed Arsenal Ladies side the most successful English ladies side in history, winning thirty two honours, being awarded an OBE and now is the man responsible for ensuring our club are kitted out?

Step forward, Vic Akers, the true definition of an Arsenal hero.

Vic Akers, Arsenal icon

Vic is the embodiment of what us fans want from a player. True dedication, nothing but love for the cannon and puts everything into his work. Akers has not only served Arsenal well – he shone a light on the Women’s game that wasn’t illuminated previously.

His Arsenal Ladies team’s – and it is plural as he reinvented the side regularly in his tenure as Manager – highlighted the skills on show in the female game. His all-conquering Gunners side were also the first English team to lift the European Cup.

Thanks to his work, the WSL is now growing at an exponential rate, but from a humble seed do mighty oaks grow, and the bedrock for the success in today’s incarnation of the English Women’s game lies at the feet of Vic Aker’s Arsenal teams.

The man famous for sparking the ‘Postman’ fashion trend – perennially in shorts, no matter the weather – Akers has been a mainstay during the reins of both Graham and Wenger, and this season will be his last at the club.

His work will be continued by his son, but not much is known about Akers prior to joining Arsenal as part of the Community scheme the Gunners were running at the time and continue to do.

Vic, much like other successful managers, was a journeyman professional football player, playing as a full-back during the 70’s for the likes of Cambridge United and Watford. Upon hanging up his boots, he took the chance to join his boyhood club working behind the scenes and strengthening the link between the club and the locals. A job very much close to his heart being a local boy himself.

It will be his efforts as Arsenal Ladies Manager from 1987 through to 2009 that set him apart however. 22 years and 32 trophies is a record that sees him in illustrious company, and even in the last decade when competition for trophies became fiercer than ever, his tactical nous and training ground work saw his Gunners girls stay ahead of the competition, even winning the European Cup in 2007 – something the currently cash-rich Chelsea and Man City Ladies team’s have failed to do.

Vic Akers will no doubt say goodbye to the club with well-wishes from everyone at the club, but fan recognition for his service will be lower than he deserves, simply because he flew below the radar, letting his work do the talking rather than take the plaudits he so richly warrants.

Arsenal have been lucky to have had some bona fide legends in their time, but Vic Akers is without doubt one of the biggest. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for what he has achieved and also – how much he loved the club when he did it.

Thank you Vic Akers.

England’s Lionesses – What Next?

Mark Sampson became the England Women’s Manager in December 2013. In his four years at the helm of the Lionesses, the Welsh coach has lifted the team into a position as worthy challengers for top honours.


In only two years, Sampson engineered a Semi-Final place for England in the 2015 World Cup in Canada. It represented the best showing of an England team – male or female – since 1990. After losing to Japan at the penultimate hurdle, England’s women then defeated Germany to finish in a fantastic 3rd place.

Hopes were inevitably high for the recent Euro2017 tournament after such a wonderful run. 


Could Sampson prove that this is the level that his charges are at? The World Cup drew in amazing viewing figures – both on TV and spectators in the grounds – and the interest level was growing in female football.

Euro2017 then took it to another platform entirely. Terrestrial TV picked up the rights to the competition, giving the chance for so many people to watch events unfold, and it paid off.


England’s women played marvellously as they again made their way to the Semi-Final stage – this time falling to an impressive Netherlands team who were playing in their home country.

It was another wonderful display for Sampson and the girls, but it was again a tumble just before the biggest of all stages. Whilst the Semi-Finals twice in consecutive major tournaments represents a huge achievement – it leaves one question;


Do England have what it takes to win a big competition?




On first appearances, the answer would be an emphatic yes.


England have defeated both France and Germany recently, and both nations are powerhouses of women’s football. A win in the knockout stages of the Euro’s and a World Cup mean Steph Houghton and co are more than capable of keeping company with the best in the business.


There is a confidence within each and every one of the squad, cultivating a mentality that gives this team that surety on the pitch that all great teams have. The respect shown by each member of the squad is reciprocated unequivocally – and this has been the foundation for the improvement shown.


They have beaten the USA, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden in recent years. They have been hobnobbing with the elite for the last two years, and the strength of the WSL means that England should have enough resources to stay at the top table.


Which is of paramount importance. With Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea Ladies all recruiting top talent, it means the youth at each respective club will both benefit from training with these superb players, but they will also work harder to force their way through the enhanced competition for places.


The youth at each club will be responsible for picking up the baton left by the current pride of Lionesses, and they have one hell of a job to fulfill.


Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes, Millie Bright, Isobel Christiansen, Jade Moore, Jordan Nobbs, Karen Carney, Toni Duggan, Fran Kirby, Nikita Parris and Ellen White are the players who will carry the team forward to the 2019 World Cup – with all of the above being in their 20’s. There is the small matter of attempting to replace some real quality in the squad though.


Jodie Taylor, Fara Williams, Jill Scott, Jo Potter, Casey Stoney, Alex Scott, Laura Bassett, Siobhan Chamberlain and Karen Bardsley are all 30 or older, and whilst some may still be at the pinnacle of the game, they will not represent the future of England Women.


With Steph Houghton and Karen Carney both 29 as well – how do England go about replacing the experience that 1036 caps brings?


More importantly, who will take the reins after Sampson?


England really do have some bright talent shining through. Millie Bright, Fran Kirby, Demi Stokes and Lucy Bronze will all be cornerstones of the side in years to come, and Jordan Nobbs is only going to get better, which is a scary prospect for opposing nations.


Do the WSL youth facilities and staff have what it takes to produce and replace what has already been?


Was this the ‘Golden Generation’ that should have perhaps achieved more than they did?


This is definitely the strongest squad that an England Women’s Manager has had to call upon, but in terms of achievements, it could be looked at another way.


The Euro 2009 Final and the last two Semi-Finals may not have garnered a ticker-tape parade and winners medals – but it has supplied the growth in the sport that it so badly warranted. The WSL now attracts talent such as Carli Lloyd and the cream of the Netherlands. It also can now look forward to appropriate levels of TV coverage thanks to a new deal with BT Sport, which in turn means better levels of funding for the League and its participants.


What has been engineered has meant that the England Lionesses have a fighting chance of glory in the future. The respective new manager’s charges have put the sport firmly at the eye level of a bigger audience. It means that young girls will seek a career, rather than see it as just a hobby.


The Euro2017 defeat to Netherlands may have smarted, but it is just a service station on the journey. England Women are not finished yet.

Arsenal Ladies Gunning For WSL Title

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. 

Women’s Super League On The Rise

Ladies football has been on the rise for the last few years, but 2017 has seen the Women’s Super League finally realise its own lofty aspirations.

An influx of money has led to a hotbed of competition, as the big clubs of Manchester City and Chelsea have injected large amounts of money into the veins of their teams. This has given both sides the opportunity to attract the best of talent from Europe and the US – and fans are enjoying the multiple benefits.


With City and Chelsea asserting their financial dominance over the WSL, it has left Arsenal Ladies and Liverpool with much work to do. They have responded and all four sides now represent excellent bases for the cream of female football to join.


The WSL Spring Series was just a small taste of what to expect from next season, as Chelsea edged out City on goal difference to clinch the title. The third placed Gunners were just a point behind after ending the season undefeated, and Liverpool were not far behind in fourth. It sets up a mouthwatering 2017/18 WSL season – and there will be a raft of big players on display.







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All the talk during the Spring Series was centred on USA superstar Carli Lloyd joining City, and she did not disappoint. Perhaps the biggest name in women’s football, Lloyd scored for City as they won the FA Cup, and City enjoyed bigger crowds as well as larger firepower on the pitch.


It wasn’t just City who had added quality to their ranks.


Arsenal snapped up Dutch star Vivianne Mediema and Lisa Evans from FC Bayern, as well as Kim Little rejoining from the USA. With Heather O’Reilly, Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Van De Donk in midfield and England striker Danielle Carter up top, Arsenal Ladies will be in with a real shout for the top honours.


Chelsea have a wealth of talent, and the Champions can boast the likes of Crystal Dunn from across the pond, as well as England hotshots Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby. They will surely be contenders to keep their hands on the WSL title.


What is evident when the squads of these teams are pored over, is that there is international class peppered in every position – and the powerhouse countries of Germany, France, Netherlands and the US are heavily represented.


So which team looks strongest for next season’s WSL, which begins in September?


There is little to separate Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, and the Spring Series was proof of this. With Liverpool Ladies closing the gap on the Big Three thanks to heavy investment, 2017/18 looks to be the most hotly contested league campaign since Ladies Football began. With TV coverage increasing as demand rises, the revolution will indeed be televised.


The WSL has certainly enjoyed an effective revamp and with resources improving with every season, the top talents can all be lured away from their native lands. The many full-time professional clubs available in England mean that these women can realise their dream of making a career from their profession.


Women’s football is in the spotlight and rightfully so. The standard is high and is on the rise all the time, but what makes the WSL even better than its last incarnation is how unpredictable it is. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all have valid shouts for glory, and the fireworks when these teams meet will make great viewing. 


BT Sport will be showing all the thrills and spills, and the recent Euro2017 tournament has highlighted the plethora of shining talents we can look forward to seeing. 


Every new season in the WSL brings with it new faces and more skill on the pitch. As England Ladies are also benefitting from the influx of superstars via training, the future looks bright for Ladies Football in England.

Arsenal Ladies Enter A New Season

The new Women’s Super League season will be kicking off this weekend, and Arsenal Ladies will be hoping to fight for the title they last won in 2012.

For the most successful women’s side in history, being in contention is the base requirement for a season.. Arsenal Ladies manager Pedro Martinez Losa will be under no illusions as to how difficult it will be this season to maintain their lofty expectations.

Not since 2003 has Arsenal Ladies suffered the ignominy of going through a campaign bereft of silverware, but with the rise of Manchester City Women and Chelsea Ladies in recent seasons, the Gunners must elevate themselves higher than before if they are to avoid a potless season.

What hasn’t helped is their exit from the FA Cup at the Quarter-Final stage at the hands of Birmingham City. The Blues triumphed with a 1-0 victory which was earned through an inspired performance from goalkeeper Ann Katrin-Berger. Danielle Van De Donk, Danielle Carter and Kim Little were all thwarted by the Birmingham stopper, and the Gunners were sucker-punched by a 77th minute Marisa Ewers goal – which was enough to dump Losa’s Gunners out of the Cup they had won four times out of the last six seasons.

Without this ever-reliable source of silverware to fall back on, the Gunners will be looking to clinch a first title since 2012, but with Manchester City Women and Chelsea Ladies being heavily backed in the transfer market, Losa and his charges will be fully aware of the need to step up a level after falling short last season.

That saw Arsenal Ladies finish in third place behind the two new powerhouses, and this new campaign looks likely to be just as difficult. 

City have continued to strengthen their side, and with USA star Carli Lloyd on their books, they look to again be the frontrunners for the title. They can also call on the talents of former Gunner Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan. City are well equipped and armed to the teeth.

Chelsea have also added to their already strong squad, with Ramona Bachmann coming in from Wolfsburg and Crystal Dunn arriving from Washington Spirit. With Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko also extending their contracts with the Blues, Chelsea will be in contention at the business end of the season.

What of Arsenal though? 

It promises to be one of two things for the Gunners – a season of transition or one of progression. Losa has been busy in this transfer window, partly due to his hand being forced thanks to two club legends leaving the club.

Firstly, Kelly Smith has retired from football. The England and Arsenal icon has been at the forefront of Womens Football and has helped move the game into the spotlight, but now she has said her goodbye’s, can the Gunners actually fill the void left by such a high-calibre departure?

It didn’t stop there either. Casey Stoney has joined Liverpool Ladies, and the defender will be a big miss at the back for Losa. Experience is vital in defence, and Stoney was unrivalled in that department. With Spaniards Marta Corredera and Vicky Losada also leaving before a ball has been kicked, as well as German Josephine Henning, it was clear Losa must act quickly if any hope of success was to be made tangible.

A huge signing has seen Kim Little return to Arsenal after a spell with Seattle Reign. The Scotland attacker was a talismanic and decisive figure for Arsenal in her first spell at the club, and if she can recreate this form this season, the Arsenal will be in the running. Another new body of note would be the return of Carla Humphrey after spending last season on loan at Doncaster Belles. Humphrey grew in stature and Losa was quick to bring her back into the fold and extend her contract. This looks to be a wise move. Alex Scott looks to have a huge responsibility on her shoulders to marshall this new look defence. 

It may look that Arsenal are a little short in defence, but with an attack that can boast of Jordan Nobbs, Kim Little and Danielle Carter, Losa’s side will be good value for entertainment. Can the Gunners compensate for their lightness at the back with goals? They will need to if they are to overthrow Chelsea and City, as well as see off the emerging threat of Birmingham City and Liverpool Ladies.

This upcoming season of the Womens Super League looks poised to be the greatest one yet.