However, Bristol made life tough for Arsenal despite the high score-line. Arsenal’s performance was dominant, but the hosts did well to contain them for the most part.
This was a challenge that Arsenal haven’t really met consistently this season. My tactical analysis will detail how they went about breaking down a hard-working Bristol side.
Firstly, however, I’ll take a look at the challenge posed by Bristol.
Bristol City Women’s Organisation
With Arsenal clear favourites ahead of the game, they were always going to be on the front foot.
They way Bristol dealt with this though, was a clear plan which they tried to implement throughout the match. Rather than leaving themselves open and attacking the game, they retreated, allowed Arsenal space in midfield but played compactly in their defensive third. This can be seen below.
Lisa Evans is forced inside and passes to Miedema. On the edge of the box, rather than inside it, the striker isn’t as effective and is pressed easily.
This is largely how Bristol set out to play for most of the game. Although it was a form of damage limitation, as a whole it worked relatively well as the two Arsenal goals in the final ten minutes made their performance look worse than it was.
However, this plan did create problems for Bristol. The main one being that they couldn’t build sustained attacks due to the lack of bodies going forward.
Arsenal Women’s Intensity
With Bristol suffocating spaces in front of their goal when Arsenal had the ball, the more open chances would come from quick turnovers in possession.
Therefore, Joe Montemurro’s side did what they’ve done so well this season and pressed high. Here is Arsenal’s second goal which was a result of that high press:
Being as good off the ball as you are on it is a great asset. This shows the quality, effort and confidence flowing through the side at the minute and it really is paying off.
This is possibly the most important aspect of Arsenal’s game at the moment. Being able so effective without the ball can help in many ways. Yesterday it just so happened that it gave the Gunners their two-goal cushion to make the game less tense.
Arsenal Women’s Use Of The Wings
Arsenal were able to figure out how to unlock Bristol’s low block with their own attacks, however.
With the central areas being locked off, they went to the wings to create goalscoring chances. As it happens, two of Arsenal’s four goals came from wide areas and this was the first of two quickfire late goals:
After this the ball was passed to Lia Walti at the base of midfield, out of the traffic.
It was good to see that Arsenal were able to adapt to their opponents on the day. However, one thing that seemed a tad strange was that Beth Mead didn’t make an appearance despite the clear threat she offers both centrally and out wide.
Yes the score probably suggests it shouldn’t matter but her presence is always known when on the pitch and she could have made a difference yesterday.
What we saw from Arsenal away at Bristol was great problem solving and persistence.
As aforementioned, throughout the game, Bristol made life hard for Arsenal. But with the Gunners’ quality in various aspects of the game, they were able to sweep another team aside.
But next weekend sees possibly the toughest test so for as Arsenal Women host 3rd placed Birmingham City Women. We’ll see if they can keep this goal-scoring form going then.