Last season, Arsenal Women had a familiar feeling come the end of the year as they finished third for the fourth season straight.
Finishing a point behind Manchester City Women, despite falling short, they showed that there was a possibility that they could return to Europe.
With the new season fast approaching, however, the movements made by Arsenal so far this summer have been nothing short of encouraging for another challenge to finish in the top two.
Steadying The Ship
Following his arrival last November, manager, Joe Montemurro proved to be a great appointment and for the rest of the season, Arsenal looked like a team that could beat anybody on their day.
Demanding that we played out from the back, there were a few costly mistakes made, however, the positives of 2017/18 certainly outweigh those.
Along with the style of play, came two cup finals. The one that Arsenal fans will have fonder memories of is the Continental Cup as we beat Manchester City 1-0 in a game that showed that Arsenal can go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the league again.
The second final was a tad less fortunate as we met Chelsea FC Women who were by far the better team on the day and ran out 3-1 winners.
Thankfully though, in the FAWSL, what we saw was consistency in both the style of play and performances. With a stretch of games which saw us win 11 games straight, this made us real Champions League contenders.
Coming into his first full season as Arsenal Women’s manager off the back of this, Montemurro should be feeling confident.
Another welcoming sign has been the players that have been brought into the club. So far, Arsenal Women have made four signings with each of them seeming to bring great experience into the side. All of which arrive at Arsenal having won titles with their previous clubs.
In midfield, Lia Walti and Viktoria Schnaderbeck are sure to bring some healthy competition into an area that was already impressive last season. Both captain their respective countries (Switzerland and Austria) and at 25 and 27, both should be just as ready to compete as the midfielders already at the club.
Coming from Bayern Munich where she won two Frauen-Bundesliga’s, Schnaderbeck could also prove to be vital in the push for the Champions League.
The two who may be looked upon more-so, however, are new goalkeeper, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin who joins from Lyon and Tabea Kemme who arrives with Walti from Turbine Potsdam. Both have Champions League winners’ medals, among many others, so to bring that type of winning mentality back into the squad should have an effect during the season.
As for Peyraud-Magnin, a player who won the Champions League and Feminine Division 1 with Lyon last year, it’ll be interesting to see whether she slots straight into the starting 11 or not. Either way, with that type of competition, both her and Sari van Veenendaal will need to be at their best throughout the season.
Finally, what ties in well with the direction in which the club are going in, is that the players already at the club have bought into the vision.
Towards the back end of last season and into the summer, Emma Mitchell, Jordan Nobbs, the Dutch trio of van Veenendaal, Dominique Janssen and Danielle van de Donk along with Katie McCabe and Louise Quinn, all signed new contracts.
I was lucky enough to speak to Jordan Nobbs about her contract extension and you can see what she had to say here.
So, going into the 2018/19 season, things do seem to be looking up but, we’ll have to just wait and see if everything goes as planned.