Huge win against Chelsea in the season opener: A new hope

Arsenal defeated Chelsea 3-2 in the season opener at the Emirates and have finally found a way to beat the best team in England again.

It has to be mentioned that the refereeing team was not at their best as Beth Mead was offside for the third Arsenal goal. Also, Magdalena Eriksson should have received two yellow cards and therefore been sent off.

Referees being lenient is nothing new and unless there is a cultural change aiming at protecting the players’ physical integrity, these problems will carry on for years. Making them professional won’t solve the problem, as we’ve seen in the Premier League.

The PGMOL has to change the referees’ mentality and protect the players. Let’s hope Bibi Steinhaus-Webb will be able to implement this.

I also note that the Chelsea and Reading managers among others spoke about the need to have goal-line technology and VAR. The biggest problem is the pricing followed by the way it is used. So I can’t see it happening.

There was a clear hoodoo about playing Chelsea and it was indeed the first win since October 2018 and that 5-0 triumph at Kingsmeadow. It was also the first home win in eight years.

There is a new hope at Arsenal now. Jonas Eidevall has certainly put his imprint on the team and it was visible in the season opener. The team carries on playing a ball possession orientated game, the Arsenal way, but has added a little bit more directness at times, when under pressure.

The pressing and counter-pressing game is now one of the key components in the team defending and this is the most visible evolution in the team’s philosophy. This is an obvious trend nowadays in women’s football and it is good to see Arsenal following it. Being proactive as high as possible on the pitch reaps rewards.

Or in certain situations, to exploit the opposition weaknesses, i.e. space between the wing-backs and the centre in Chelsea’s back five.

We can see a certain evolution from Joe Montemurro’s style little by little and step by step. This was the perfect game to showcase this new Arsenal and the players did not let the fans down.

Three great goals, a super entertaining game with two top sides. A tactical battle with moments of individual brilliance right on cue for the new tv deal with Sky Sports and BBC.

We also saw some interesting team selection choices yesterday. Some of them can certainly be filed under rotation with four games in two weeks, and others were clearly tactical and game-specific.

Zinsberger, Maritz, Williamson, and Beattie are clearly first choices with Williams, Patten, Boye-Simønsen, and Wubben-Moy their understudy.

McCabe was selected alongside them at left-back while actually playing as a wing-back linking up with Iwabuchi who was moved from the number 10 to the left-wing. At the same time, Maanum in a double pivot with Wälti was covering for the Irish captain in that area.

Wälti was brought back into the starting XI to add a defensive-minded presence and balance in midfield while Little took the playmaking role and excelled as usual.

Fans must have noted how skillful and technically strong the two new signings were on the ball. They fully integrated the Arsenal style quickly with pass and move and off the ball movement a key to evade the Chelsea press.

In attack, Miedema led the line with her usual gusto scoring a phenomenal opener, Mead scored two excellent goals and was a constant threat. Iwabuchi was found wandering in the half-spaces creating confusion in the Chelsea defence.

Chelsea on the other side were in a 5-2-3 defending formation moving into 3-4-3 in attack. There is no doubt that in the coming weeks when at full steam, they will steamroll teams in the League.

Now the Gunners are going to Prague to finish off their WCL tie and qualify for the Group stage. You would expect some rotation with Patten in for the suspended Maritz at least.

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