Arsenal's WSL season review so far
- Credit: PA
It has been a strange season for all football fans matches called off due to the now well known coronavirus, no fans in stadiums and players undergoing persistent testing for the virus.
It really has been a season like no other as we are at the halfway point of the Women's Super League season what has it been like for Arsenal as they currently sit second in the table over the winter break.
This season was to start in August in not London or even the UK but in San Sebastian for the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final of 2019/20 as the Coronavirus pandemic suspended the remainder of that season.
Joe Montemurro's troops went in search of European glory in Spain but it wasn't to be as Paris Saint-Germain took full advantage of a rusty side with the French side winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Marie-Antoinette Katoto as she fired home a superb near-post volley and Signe Bruun added the second as the French side reached the semi-final.
Beth Mead had equalised for the Gunners but it wasn't enough to see the Gunners into the last 4 of Europes elite club competition.
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However even before a ball was kicked it was another busy transfer market as Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, Malin Gut, Noelle Maritz and a return to the Gunners for Lotte Wubben-Moy all joined the North London club as Emma Mitchell, Danielle Carter, Katrine Veje and Louise Quinn, Ruby Grant, Melisa Filis and Pauline Peyraud-Magnin all waved goodbye to the Gunners to start a new adventure.
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September got off to a flying start for Joe Montemurro's side as Reading came to Meadow Park to open the season with a 12.30pm kick off.
It couldn't have started much better as Arsenal won 6-1 in a game that saw Carter and Mitchell return to the Gunners to make their debuts for the Royals.
Kim Little put the Gunners ahead before Vivianne Miedema made it 2-0 and then fellow Netherlands international Jill Roord opened her account for the season to put Arsenal well in control at the break.
Roord then came out all guns blazing as she scored her second in the 63rd minute before Miedema added her brace with just over ten minutes to go.
However there was time for two more goals as Roord completed her hat-trick beating her goalscoring record from the previous season to make it 6-0 but Reading did pull a late goal back as Carter took advantage of an error from Manuela Zinsberger to slide the ball into the net.
Matchday 2 of the season brought the Gunners to West Ham United in what turned out to be another feast of goals with West Ham falling to a 9-1 defeat at their new home the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
Roord continued her explosive early season form as she hit another hat-trick she opened the scoring before Kenza Dali equalised for the Hammers.
However a controversial red card for West Ham captain Gilly Flaherty turned the game on it's head as Miedema, Little and Beth Mead all hit further goals before the break.
Montemurro's side came out in the second half with the urgency to score more goals as Roord fired in her second goal in the 52nd before Miedema added her second in the 54th minute to add to her tally.
Roord then made it back to back hat-tricks several minutes later before Leah Williamson notched her first off the season with a composed finish and then Caitlin Foord scored her first ever WSL goal when Lisa Evans was unselfish and squared the ball to the Australian to tap into the net beyond West Ham keeper Mackenzie Arnold.
September ended with an FA Cup quarter-final live on BBC Two against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur as the 2019/20 competition was played to an end.
It was another great night for Arsenal fans as they ran out 4-0 winners and it was a game to remember for Lisa Evans as she hit a hat-trick.
In what was a tight affair until the last 17 minutes of the match when Jordan Nobbs opened the scoring with a stunning lob over Rebecca Spencer in the Lilywhites goal to break the deadlock.
Evans then hit a quick hat-trick as she latched onto a through ball by Miedema to calmly slot into the net to make it 2-0.
She then took advantage of good balls into the box from Little and Mead to seal the win and take home the match ball as the Gunners went marching into the semi-finals of the cup.
October started in Manchester for Arsenal as they were one step away from booking a spot at Wembley for the FA Cup final.
However it just wasn't to be as an under-par performance saw Manchester City who eventually won the trophy by beating Everton in the showpiece event knock the Gunners out winning 2-1.
Steph Houghton put the home side ahead as she fired in a free-kick curling it around Zinsberger after Williamson had committed the foul.
Joe Montemurro's side however got back on level terms in the 38th minute when Nobbs hit a stunning long range effort that dipped over Manchester City keeper Ellie Roebuck before nestling in the net.
The Gunners weren't level for long as Samantha Mewis booked Manchester City's place at Wembley when Chloe Kelly's cross was diverted by Ellen White straight into the path of Mewis to fire home from close range after she made a late, well-timed run into the box.
After that disappointment it was important for Joe Montemurro's side to bounce back and quickly as they played host to Bristol City in the league that weekend.
The Gunners got off to the worst possible start as Bristol City took an early lead when Abi Harrison hit a shot from range that caught out Zinsberger to send shock waves into the hearts of Arsenal fans.
After being frustrated for most of the first half Nobbs found an equaliser on the stroke of the break as Foord played in a cross of the highest quality before the English International fired home first time.
Foord who's signing has been somewhat of a stroke of genius from Montemurro made it 2-1 just after the break as she headed home from a Nobbs cross as roles were reversed.
Bristol City keeper Sophie Baggaley was in inspired form and she made superb saves from Katie McCabe and Miedema to keep the scores level.
The Robins had the chance to equalise when sub Ebony Salmon was played in one-on-one by Carla Humphrey but Zinsberger used her legs to keep out a right-footed shot.
However Miedema settled any remaining Arsenal nerves late on as she used the outside of her foot to direct the ball beyond Baggaley after running onto Beth Mead's pass.
On October, 7 Arsenal's Continental Cup campaign was to kick off away at Chelsea who beat the Gunners in the previous seasons final thanks to a Bethany England double including a last minute winner after Williamson had equalised for Arsenal.
But this tie would also be one that Arsenal fans would have been quick to erase from their memory quickly as Emma Hayes Blues ran out 4-1 winners.
Goals from Magdalena Eriksson, a brace from Guro Reiten and a late Bethany England goal was more than enough for Arsenal's London rival's after Foord had levelled the score for a short time with a stunning strike after Erikkson's fifth minute opener.
That weekend the Gunners were on the road once again in Women's Super League action at a tricky Brighton & Hove Albion but the Gunners came out hungry winning 5-0 against an Albion side who recruited well in the summer most notably bringing in Republic of Ireland International Denise O'Sullivan on loan.
Miedema gave Arsenal an early lead to settle a few nerves in the Gunners camp with a beautiful finish before Danielle Van de Donk who put in her best performance of the season to date doubled the Gunners advantage in the 36th minute.
The second half started the same way as the first had ended with Arsenal very much on top and Jennifer Beattie made it three heading in from a McCabe corner the celebrations not yet known why but would be a truly wonderful sight to behold as a true hero was fighting a bigger battle than football.
A true Arsenal fan was then to add the fourth in the 82nd minute as Wubben-Moy scored her first goal since returning to the club from the United States before Miedema added a fifth in added time to seal another highs prong victory.
The final game of October was a record breaking occasion as Miedema became the top goalscorer in WSL history as she netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in their first league meeting of the season.
McCabe opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick that looped over Spurs stopper Spencer before Miedema added the second with a low finish from a tight angle.
Foord then made it 3-0 in the 15th minute when Williamson played a superb raking long range pass into the Australian who slotted into the net.
A quickfire double from Miedema put the hosts out of sight by half-time, the first via a deflection from an acute angle before the Dutch international combined with Foord to score what was her 52nd WSL goal.
The visitors had a chance to restore some pride after the break when McCabe brought down Leon, but Zinsberger kept out Dean's spot-kick.
However it was then six when Foord netted her second of the game before Spurs pulled a goal back when Lucia Leon fired home a bullet header.
A great way to end October for the Gunners as a tough November was waiting ahead.
November started on the road to London City Lionesses in the Continental Cup as they were looking to respond from their opening group defeat to Chelsea.
It was to be a successful night as Miedema scored a first half hat-trick before she also added the fourth in the 54th minute as Arsenal won 4-0 to keep their hopes in the competition alive.
November was a pretty miserable month for Arsenal Women fans if truth be told as they went to Manchester United on November 8th.
In 2019/20 van de Donk scored a late winner at the Leigh Sports Village in the first league meeting ever between the sides but this season in what was a very disappointing display with only Williamson doing herself justice Ella Toone scored the winner in the 83rd minute for Manchester United as Arsenal suffered their first league defeat of the season.
The result meant Manchester United replaced Arsenal at the top of the WSL table as Jess Sigsworth chased down the loose ball before beating Viktoria Schnaderbeck to it and pulling it back to Toone who fired a shot in low via the post.
Arsenal needed a reaction as they played host to champions Chelsea a week later a team they hadn't beaten in the league since October 2018.
Joe Montemurro was much more vocal than he usually is on the touchline as both sides were cagey with Foord coming close to opening the scoring in the first half as she hit the bar not once but twice.
However in the 86th minute Mead opened the scoring for the Gunners as she got on the end of a cross from Miedema to slide the ball beyond the reach of Ann-Katrin Berger in the Chelsea goal.
But heartbreak was to occur at the death as Chelsea snatched victory away from Arsenal's grasp when Pernille Harder's cross deflected off the sliding Wubben-Moy and looped over Zinsberger to earn a point for the Blues.
November ended against Tottenham Hotspur for the third North London derby of the season to round off the Continental Cup campaign.
Arsenal knew they would only qualify for the next round with a high scoring victory as the game started in perfect fashion with Miedema putting the Gunners ahead after a delightful assist from Little chipping the ball over the top of the Lilywhites defence.
Tottenham did get an equaliser via Ria Percival before Foord restored the Gunners lead but once more Spurs were to hit back and bring the game to a penalty shootout as Shelina Zadorsky equalised with two minutes left.
Arsenal did win the game however 5-4 on penalties with Alex Morgan missing the crucial spot-kick the USA superstar stepped up knowing she had to score but shanked her effort over the top.
Leah Williamson also made her 150th Arsenal appearance during the game against Spurs.
December started with a home game in the league against Carla Ward's surprise package of the season Birmingham City team.
Birmingham came into the game with nothing to lose whatsoever but Joe Montemurro knew they could cause his side some problems.
It was a game that marked Beth Mead's 100th appearance for the club, in what was a frustrating first half Arsenal were awarded a penalty but Little was denied by a save by Hannah Hampton as the teams went in scoreless at the break.
However Arsenal came out fighting in the second period with fire in their bellies and took the lead via Foord as she headed a cross in off the post before it found the back of the net.
Roord then made it 2-0 with her 7th WSL goal of the season as she fired in a shot from long range that found its way into the top corner a stunning drive to give the North Londoners breathing space.
The game was then sealed as Arsenal were awarded a second penalty and this time Little made no mistake from the spot to send the Gunners fans who were lucky to attend the game for the very first time this season as London was in tier 2 at the time home happy.
On December, 12 Arsenal's real hero Jennifer Beattie stood up and revealed she had been going through treatment for breast cancer, now that celebration at Brighton all made sense.
Leah Williamson jumping on her back meant so much more than just a goal celebration it showed the whole team and fans really do have her back in a fight a battle in fact that is far more important than any game of football.
Arsenal's penultimate game of 2020 saw them travel to Manchester once more to take on Manchester City this time in the league.
Before that game both sides took to the pitch wearing Beattie 5 training shirts paying tribute to the Scottish International.
However after a bright start to the game it was to be another dull day for the Gunners in the North West.
It took just three minutes for Arsenal to take the lead when Miedema pounced on a defensive mistake to fire across Ellie Roebuck and into the net.
After a frantic high energetic start Arsenal's tempo died down and Manchester City hit back and equalised when Lydia Williams who started in goal came out failing to make a connection on the ball as Mewis came back to haunt the Gunners once again heading into the net.
The game seemed to heading for a draw a result Arsenal would have accepted after a poor display but Caroline Weir made sure the points were staying in Manchester.
With the final kick off the ball Georgia Stanway's blocked shot fell to Weir, who curled in a low long-range strike to consign Arsenal to back-to-back away league defeats for the first time after losing to Manchester United on their last trip away from home.
2020 ended at home to Everton who were beaten in the FA Cup final but it was to be a Merry Christmas for Arsenal as they ran out 4-0 winners
After slipping to third following the defeat to City Arsenal ended the year second with the thumping win over the Toffees.
Nobbs opened the scoring inside just 4 minutes when Mead teed her up with a low cross and the English International midfielder had the simplest of finishes beyond Sandy MacIver in the Everton goal.
Foord then made it 2-0 several minutes later when Williamson played a superb ball into Roord who crossed for the Australian to tap into the net.
Beattie then scored her second of the season as she got on the end of a McCabe corner just like she did at Brighton before heading home.
Mead then scored the final goal of the year as Nobbs picked her out with a pass before she fired low into the bottom corner with a stunning strike.
Arsenal end 2020 second in the table with 22 points scoring 38 goals the most in the league currently and there are plenty more twists and turns to in the most thrilling of seasons yet.
Arsenal are next in action away at Aston Villa on Saturday, January 9 as they aim to get their title bid back on track.