Richard Laverty previews each team before the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL 1) Spring Series begins on April 22.
It’s been a while since Arsenal were at the top of the FA WSL — 2012 to be exact. Since then, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City have all had their taste of glory while Pedro Losa’s side have had to rely on cup triumphs amidst inconsistent team selections and a whole host of injuries. Another big turnaround of players occurred over the winter as the Gunners finally look for a way to get back on terms with Chelsea and City.
Where to Find Arsenal
Meadow Park, Borehamwood
After arriving from the United States to try to return Arsenal to the top of the FA WSL, Pedro Losa has amassed a remarkable amount of talent within his squads but has been unable to find his best eleven. It’s shown in his achievements; last May’s FA Cup final proved the Gunners can beat anyone on their day but they’ve lacked any sort of consistency to make it stick over a whole season. 2017 is a big year for Losa; another failure to close the gap on the teams above them could see another large turnaround next year.
There’s not much to say about the attacking midfielder that hasn’t already been said. Capable of dictating games from deep or popping up on the edge of the box to stick one in the top corner, Nobbs is already one of the finest in the league and still to reach the peak of her game. If she can stay injury free, Nobbs will be key to any hopes Arsenal have of FA WSL glory come May 2018.
Personally, I was of the belief the Dutch midfielder didn’t get the credit she deserved last season. Sitting in front of the defense, Janssen’s calmness on the ball is almost unmatched and she even began to add goals to her game when the season got under way last year. Another victim of a large squad as Losa tinkered with his team throughout the year, Janssen is the perfect midfielder to compliment Nobbs’s attacking nature.
Carter’s performance at Liverpool on the final day of last season shot her up the FA WSL scoring ranks but her ability to play as the No. 9 or out on the left makes her a vital part of Arsenal’s plans. She showed at Wembley what she’s capable of when cutting in from the wing and can now maybe concentrate on one position with Beth Mead set to lead the line this year. Still raw, if Carter finds consistency this year she’ll be a frightening prospect for any defender.
One to Watch
There’s a whole host of players you could throw in here when it comes to Arsenal but Kelly seems to be the one Losa trusted most to throw in toward the end of last season. After returning from a loan spell at Everton, Kelly instantly earned herself a spot in the starting lineup but she’ll have stiff competition from Carla Humphrey, who is also returning from a year away from Arsenal.
As ever, it’s been a thoroughly exciting and busy winter at London Colney and perhaps even the end of an era. Four legends departed in Rachel Yankey, Emma Byrne, Casey Stoney, and Kelly Smith (though Smith remains as a coach) while Spanish trio Marta Corredera, Natalia Pablos, and Vicky Losada also departed along with defender Josephine Henning.
Kim Little returned to the club from the Seattle Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League while Beth Mead joined from Sunderland and Heather O’Reilly came in from the NWSL’s FC Kansas City. The club also replaced Byrne with Doncaster goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse and the likes of Carla Humphrey and Chloe Kelly return from loan spells.