Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis

Arsenal Women put Bristol City Women to the sword with a 4-0 win to maintain their 100% record in the FAWSL.

Arsenal Women now sit three points clear at the top of the FAWSL with a game in hand over Manchester City Women and Vivianne Miedema has reached 14 goals in all competitions.

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.

Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Leah Williamson, playing at right back yesterday, steps forward. However, with Bristol set up in their defensive banks and the closest player pressing, its hard for her the ball into central, dangerous areas.

Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical AnalysisShe plays the ball into the corner which is relatively easy for Bristol to defend.

Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis

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:

Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Shutting off the passing lane to the ‘keeper, Bristol have to play central. As the ball is played the Arsenal midfield three swarm towards the ball pressuring the Bristol player to misplace a pass up-field.
Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Evans picks off the pass and is able to find Jordan Nobbs in the #10 position. This possible as, like I addressed vs Reading, this is the position Nobbs takes up when pressing.
Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Being in between the two centre backs, both engage her. This leaves Miedema free so Nobbs plays her through to score.

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:

Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Having come off her wing, Katie McCabe is followed into the central area. With the Bristol defence still sturdy, she set the ball back to Nobbs in midfield.

After this the ball was passed to Lia Walti at the base of midfield, out of the traffic.

Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
With a clear view of the Bristol half, Walti does well to identify a space to attack. She plays the ball wide to drag the left back out of position and underlaps into the vacated space to receive the return ball.
Arsenal Women 4-0 Bristol City Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
With time and space out wide, Walti crosses for Miedema who continues to impress and heads yet another goal onto her tally.

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.

Summary

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.