Review of Arsenal Women’s 2022-23 season so far – a roller-coaster ride for the Gunners by Michelle
What a 2022-23 season Arsenal Women are having so far. We’ve celebrated the highs and reviewed the lows of our Gunners progress through the season to date. Let’s take a look, month by month, at the roller-coaster ride that has been Arsenal’s first 4 months of the season. As they went into the winter break Arsenal were sitting 2nd in the WSL, 3 points behind Chelsea and 2 points ahead of Manchester United, so our Gunners hopes for the WSL title are very much alive. Arsenal also excelled in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, sitting top of their group and qualifying for the quarter-finals. Then the list of player injuries started to mount..
Arsenal’s first game of the season should have been away to Manchester City, but it was postponed due to the passing of her Majesty the Queen. Otherwise, it was a positive start to the season for Arsenal, with dominant 4-0 wins over both Brighton and Tottenham. Arsenal Women smashed the WSL attendance record as 47,367 supporters watched on as they defeated Tottenham at Emirates Stadium. Our Gunners also began their Champions League campaign, qualifying for the group stages with a draw and a win over two legs against Ajax.
But then the injury problems began.. Rafaelle Souza sustained a metatarsal foot injury during the 2nd leg with Ajax and Leah Williamson suffered a foot injury in training within days of Rafaelle. Both are captains of their national teams and key in Arsenal’s defence. The injuries were to keep them out of action for club and country for the following 2 months.
Returning from the international break, boss Jonas Eidevall’s side struggled against Reading but managed a 1-0 away win. They continued their unbeaten run with a 2-0 away win over Liverpool and 3-1 win over West Ham. In their opening game of the Champions League group stages Arsenal recorded a historic 5-1 away win over reigning champions Lyon and later in October a 3-1 victory over Zurich at Emirates Stadium.
The end of October also saw Kim Little sustain a knee injury during the West Ham win, that would keep her out of action for several weeks. Arsenal’s new summer signing Swedish international Lina Hurtig was also out of action due to injury.
November got off to a positive start for our Gunners with a comfortable 4-0 away win over Leicester City. After returning from the international break Arsenal suffered their first defeat of their WSL campaign losing 3-2 to Manchester United in front of a 40,000-strong crowd at Emirates Stadium. The defeat wasn’t the only disappointment as Beth Mead went down injured in the final minutes of injury time and it was later confirmed she’d suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and would be sidelined most likely for the rest of the season as well as putting in doubt her hopes of joining the Lionesses for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.
The month ended with an injury-plagued Arsenal managing a 1-1 draw to Juventus, with a goal from Vivianne Miedema, in the Champions League but Arsenal remained top of their group and edged closer to qualification for the quarter-finals.
By this point, Eidevall’s squad was reduced to only 15 match-fit first team players with Williamson, Rafaelle, Teyah Goldie, Kim Little, Hurtig and Mead out of action.
In the WSL Arsenal completed 2022 with a 1-0 win over Everton, again with a Miedema strike saving the day. Arsenal also beat Aston -Villa 4-1 away at Villa Park, which included another Miedema goal. Our Gunners currently sit second in the table, three points behind Chelsea, though they have a game in hand. Eidevall’s side remain firmly in the title race, two points ahead of Manchester United.
The return leg against Juventus ended in a 1-0 win for Arsenal at Emirates, with a goal from Vivianne Miedema and they later went on to secure qualification to the Champions League quarter-finals. Despite losing 1-0 to Lyon at home, a 9-1 annihilation of Zurich before Christmas booked their place in the quarter-finals, at the top of their group.
Early December saw the celebrated return of both Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza. And late December saw the return of captain Kim Little and Lina Hurtig but during Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat by Lyon Miedema went down injured and it was confirmed as another long term ACL injury for Arsenal.
Phew! That really was a roller-coaster ride! January looks set to be just as interesting with Arsenal being very active in the transfer window, with Eidevall looking to replace his injured players and keep their Champions League and WSL title hopes alive. One thing’s for sure the Arsenal squad will be changing shape over the coming weeks and months with potential new recruits including Sabrina D’Angelo, Victoria Pelova, Debinha, Kathrine Kuhl and Cloe Lacasse..
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