Coming into the game in 3rd place, Birmingham were confident which showed from the off.
In this tactical analysis, I’ll show how Birmingham have been Arsenal’s biggest test this season. I’ll also show how Arsenal overcame this after going in 0-0 at half-time.
Firstly, however, here is how Birmingham imposed themselves on the game:
The teams began the game at very different paces with Birmingham on the front foot for most of the first-half.
This could be seen through the visitors’ confidence and ability to play how they wanted to play under pressure. This saw them be quite patient in possession and look for spaces to open up further down the pitch.
Here’s a passage of play that shows just how confident they were going into the game:
With Birmingham being the more pro-active of the sides in the first-half which saw them take control. What this also showed was that Birmingham were ready to play at a great intensity whereas Arsenal quite reactionary in the first-half.
Birmingham Forcing Arsenal Out Of Central Areas
The Blues also deserve credit for how they played out of possession in the first-half.
So far this season, Arsenal have been able to cut through teams at will. This has mostly come with them bursting through central areas, but Marc Skinner’s side did well to limit them to the wide areas.
Here’s how they did that:
This structure saw Arsenal struggle to attack at pace throughout the first-half. Instead, Arsenal second-guessed themselves quite often before going forward which played into Birmingham’s hands.
Controlling the game on both sides of the ball, Birmingham deserved to go into the break with their clean sheet.
However, a very different Arsenal emerged in the second-half.
A More Intense Second-Half
From the start of the second-half, Arsenal’s attacking intent was clear for everyone to see. They were much more urgent and the player who looked brightest going forward was Nobbs. Her run off the ball minutes after kick-off showed that she was in the hunt for goal:
What also helped Arsenal when going forward was Vivianne Miedema becoming more involved in the build-up play. In the second-half, she dropped deeper to get onto the ball more often and as the focal point, this helped those around her massively.
Thankfully for Joe Montemurro’s side, the intensity in which they started the second-half led to their goals.
Their pressing was sharper in the second-half as seen in Nobbs’ opener which allowed Arsenal to settle in the game:
Two goals in two minutes! ⏱
— The FA Women's Super League (@FAWSL) November 4, 2018
Overall, Arsenal Women didn’t have it all their way during the game. Birmingham City Women played well and were unlucky to see their hard work slip away but Arsenal answered yet another question in as they stay top of the FAWSL.
What is probably most encouraging about the result was the way in which, Arsenal were able to stay in the game even when they weren’t on top. They were then able to identify where they were going wrong and fix it.
Making it seven wins from seven, the international break may be coming at the wrong time for Arsenal. But sitting three points clear with a game in hand, it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down any time soon.