Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis

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Arsenal Women’s FAWSL winning streak finally came to an end in a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City Women. The result brings 2nd place City three points closer to Arsenal at the top of the table.

In recent weeks, Arsenal Women have suffered injuries to key players which took its toll. Without Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs, Emma Mitchell and more, the lineup was somewhat makeshift. This saw Dominique Bloodworth move back out of midfield and to left back. With this, Katie McCabe moved more central but how did the game pan out?

In this tactical analysis, I’ll outline how Manchester City got the better of Arsenal and whether Arsenal looked different without their stars.

Arsenal Continue To Press High

This season, one of the biggest aspects of Arsenal’s play has been pressing. This is something that isn’t reliant on quality, but hard work. Therefore, we saw this in action yet again. However, against such high-quality opposition, they were picked out at times.

Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
McCabe initiates the press, forcing Keira Walsh to play the ball back. Beth Mead then continues the press.
Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Even though Mead and van de Donk carry on the press, Miedema doesn’t quite get across quickly enough. This leaves a space for Houghton to step forward when she receives the ball in the highlighted space.
Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Houghton progresses up the pitch and is able to play the ball forward. Now City are in behind the Arsenal midfield.

Manchester City’s Danger Areas

Getting in behind the Arsenal midfield is where Manchester City found their joy. Here, they showed their quality and were able to work they way through the thirds with great precision.

Seeing as Arsenal’s full-backs Lisa Evans and Bloodworth haven’t been playing in those positions regularly, spaces in behind them were found often by City.

Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Here we see Manchester City utilise a third person run to get deep into the final third. A move that worked like clockwork.

This movement off the ball could also be seen in their opening goal:

Arsenal Pressing Well

As the game grew on, Arsenal’s pressing game improved. With this, Joe Montemurro’s side were able to find ways to get deeper into the hosts’ half.

Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Miedema and full debutante Paige Bailey-Gayle press well and force the pass into midfield. van de Donk does even better to get a foot on the ball and turn it over.
Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Miedema retrieves the ball in broken play and Arsenal can attack on the left.
Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
After Mead attempts a shot, the ball falls to McCabe who was following in around the back. She comes incredibly close but hits the post with her shot.

In the first half, this proved useful but Arsenal then managed to build their own attacks later in the game.

Arsenal Going Forward

With City opting to clog up the middle of the pitch, Arsenal had to attack out wide. However, this came more easily down the right as Bloodworth tended to cut onto her right foot on the left wing.

So, here’s a move that Arsenal put together multiple times but couldn’t quite finish.

Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Here Evans plays a one-two with Mead who rotated out to the right. This allows Arsenal to move forward quickly.
Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
The ball falls to van de Donk whose run creates the highlighted space. Evans continues her run and is found with a well-executed backheel.
Manchester City Women 2-0 Arsenal Women FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Evans drives well into the box where Miedema tries to get across the front post where the cross should’ve gone. However, Evans’ final ball is behind the striker and Arsenal fail to score.

Evans often found herself deep in City territory but the final ball was just lacking. So with this, we see that despite coming out on the wrong end of the game, Arsenal were able to fashion chances throughout the game.

Manchester City Strike Again

However, the areas behind the Arsenal full backs created problems yet again. Chasing the game those spaces would only open up even more and that proved to be the case with Georgia Stanway’s second goal:

Summary

Unfortunately, Arsenal Women couldn’t make it ten wins from ten in the FAWSL. However, they shouldn’t be too negative about the result. Although City were the better, more mature team over the course of the game, Arsenal were able to leave somewhat of a mark.

Thankfully for Arsenal, their next FAWSL isn’t until January when they head to West Ham. This also gives the side a perfect opportunity to regroup after their Continental Cup games against Charlton and Millwall. Hopefully, after that break, they’ll come back refreshed with a few bodies back in the side and be ready for a similar second half to the season.


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