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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. 

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.