Arsenal appear to be in the ascendency as Blue meets Red at Wembley on Sunday in the Women’s FA Cup final, but the master tactician Emma Hayes is busy plotting their downfall. Sitting just ahead of Chelsea in the Women’s Super League, the Gunners are having a terrific first season under new boss Jonas Eidevall…
Arsenal appear to be in the ascendency as Blue meets Red at Wembley on Sunday in the Women’s FA Cup final, but the master tactician Emma Hayes is busy plotting their downfall.
Sitting just ahead of Chelsea in the Women’s Super League, the Gunners are having a terrific first season under new boss Jonas Eidevall… a Swede who knows compatriots Magda Eriksson and Jonna Andersson well.
The preparation for Wembley’s showdown has been fractured for both teams, with squads scattered around the world playing friendlies and qualifiers, and only returning to their respective clubs in midweek to get ready to entertain around 50,000 fans on Sunday.
Arsenal’s Beth Mead was one of the stars of the show as the goals flew in during England’s record-breaking 20-0 win in the World Cup qualifier against Latvia – a match which left many feeling sorry for the part-timers from the Baltic.
A win that big underlines the gulf between the haves and have-nots in women’s football, and it was sobering to see the Latvian women’s expressions as they trudged off the pitch. “These are not competitive games,” admitted Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman with candour, adding that a 20-0 scoreline wasn’t good for the game as a whole.
The fact that Mexican waves preoccupied the crowd at Doncaster underlined just how big a mismatch it was, although England’s ruthlessness had to be applauded. They simply didn’t let up, and their six group wins have now seen 53 goals scored without reply. Without doubt, Sunday’s final will be altogether tighter.
A question increasingly being asked among Chelsea fans is whether Beth England will have a role on Sunday. There’s a real fear that the one-time first-choice striker is now marginalised at Kingsmeadow as Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby and Lauren James compete for front spots, and the likelihood grows that Beth will have to consider leaving Chelsea during next month’s transfer window in order to secure regular football and rebuild her match sharpness and confidence.
Though she positioned herself in the six-yard box for much of England’s annihilation of Latvia, her two second-half goals were eclipsed by United’s young striker Alessia Russo, who came on as a sub and scored an 11-minute hat-trick.
Without regular starts in the WSL for Chelsea, insiders are asking if Reading, Villa or Everton wouldn’t be a better home for the Yorkshirewoman, to re-establish herself as a scoring force and remain in Wiegman’s reckoning ahead of the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Whatever happens at Wembley this weekend, an important decision is looming for Beth as January’s transfer window approaches.