The WSL made its long-awaited return final weekend, with new groups, gamers and managers all trying to start the season in one of the simplest ways attainable. Arsenal Women internet hosting Chelsea Women was undoubtedly the tie of the primary spherical of matches, and two of the league’s title contenders placed on an excellent footballing show on the Emirates Stadium. However, when it got here to each groups’ performances, Arsenal had the sting over their opponents, and this tactical evaluation will take a look at why that was. We will see why Chelsea’s techniques have been well-thought-out, however had flaws, and why Arsenal’s attacking and counter-attacking play was important to their win, and why it offered us with an perception into how they could arrange through the the rest of the marketing campaign.

Arsenal Women named a 4-3-3 formation for Jonas Eidevall’s first league recreation in cost, with Switzerland defender Noelle Maritz enjoying at right-back, Republic of Ireland worldwide Katie McCabe in her regular left-back place, and Jennifer Beattie partnering England’s Leah Williamson in central defence, with Lotte Wubben-Moy and Anna Patten each on the bench. Captain Kim Little, who lately retired from the Scotland nationwide workforce, began in midfield, alongside Switzerland’s Lia Walti and new signing Frida Maanum, while the ahead line was made up of Beth Mead and one other new signing, Mana Iwabuchi, each of whom performed both aspect of star Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema.
Chelsea Women, in the meantime, named a 3-4-3 beginning formation; one thing that we don’t normally affiliate with them. However, with nearly all of those that featured on the Olympics deemed not prepared to begin this recreation, Emma Hayes named Jess Carter, Millie Bright and captain Magdalena Eriksson as a again three, while former Liverpool Women participant Niamh Charles and Norway ahead Guro Reiten got the wing-back roles. South Korea worldwide Ji So-yun and Germany’s ex-Bayern Munich Frauen participant Melanie Leupolz operated within the midfield, while Beth England began because the centre ahead, flanked by Scotland star Erin Cuthbert, who was unlucky to overlook out on the Team GB squad, and Denmark star Pernille Harder.
Chelsea Women’s techniques
Chelsea Women are tipped by many to carry on to their WSL crown this season, and Emma Hayes has strengthened her squad with the signings of ahead Lauren James from Manchester United Women and Netherlands defender Aniek Nouwen from PSV Vrouwen. However, this recreation was by no means going to be simple for them, and so they wanted to have begin with the intention to take early management of the match.
Chelsea Women seemed to sit down again and play a counter-attacking type of soccer within the early levels of the sport.
It was clear from the early levels that they have been enjoying a counter-attacking type of soccer, permitting Arsenal Women to have the ball and countering at tempo once they received possession. In this picture, we are able to see how even the ahead line have been concerned on this tactic, with Pernille Harder going ahead to softly press the Arsenal defender, however not with sufficient depth to power a turnover. However, they didn’t press as a workforce, and in addition didn’t go ahead each time the ball moved to the subsequent Arsenal participant, which indicated that their focus was not on having possession.
As a end result, Arsenal dominated the primary levels of the primary half, with time to search for the very best areas earlier than transferring the ball on, and the line of defense was additionally allowed to unfold out and make the pitch as large as attainable.
Chelsea Women used wing-backs, however couldn’t make their oportunities rely.
However, when Arsenal did lose possession, Chelsea’s attacking setup was organised, with the wing-backs controlling the huge channels, while the three attackers turned compact within the center, as this picture illustrates. As a results of the three-pronged central assault, Arsenal’s defence needed to slim as much as stop Harder, England or Cuthbert from accessing the area behind.
Whilst this in idea was construction, it didn’t fairly work as deliberate for Chelsea. Niamh Charles operated as a right-back in some video games final season, so is aware of the position in each attacking and defensive conditions of a full-back or wing-back. Reiten, in the meantime, is extra used to enjoying within the ultimate third and staying there, and seemed out of her consolation zone on this system in consequence. Chelsea’s assault was due to this fact lopsided at instances, that means that they struggled to profit from the alternatives they created.
Chelsea Women midfielder Ji So-yun was important to all of their good play.
Key to Chelsea’s good play was Ji So-yun. She was undoubtedly the very best participant on the pitch for Emma Hayes’ aspect, continuously discovering areas and linking up play for her workforce. On this event, she has dropped again to assist out the defence, receiving the ball from them and turning to play it forwards, however she was additionally concerned in a number of fast play on the different finish of the pitch, and all the time tried to create goalscoring alternatives for both herself or a teammate. It was apparent that she had been given the playmaker position for this recreation, as different Chelsea gamers continuously gave her passing choices every time she had possession, understanding that she wished to play into area across the area each time the ball got here to her.
In the context of this season, Ji could possibly be a key participant in Chelsea’s transitional play, and groups might want to shut her down shortly with the intention to stop Chelsea from posing a menace.
Chelsea Women improved within the second half, with their wing-backs creating extra issues for Arsenal Women.
In the primary half, the huge forwards and wing-backs mixed with one another within the huge channels, however not as typically as was wanted, and this was one motive for Chelsea’s struggles. However, while Reiten lacked her regular affect on proceedings earlier than half-time, she was way more harmful afterwards, and it appeared like Emma Hayes had given her extra encouragement to advance up the sector within the second half. As this picture signifies, her positioning was significantly better, giving Chelsea extra passing choices once they have been wanted.
Thinking tactically for a second, Pernille Harder, on the within of Reiten right here, didn’t appear to have a hard and fast place final season, that means she didn’t have as large an affect in key video games as she maybe may need finished. However, this wing-back formation suited her type of play, because it allowed her to function within the half-spaces, working with Reiten but additionally chopping inside and capturing at objective, and he or she seemed extra harmful on this recreation. Whilst the 3-4-3 might not final, it’d resolve the query of the Denmark captain’s greatest place for Chelsea, which has been the topic of a lot debate since her arrival final summer time, and Arsenal needed to work onerous to minimise her menace.
Chelsea Women’s errors
However, the truth that Arsenal Women received this match suggests that there have been a couple of issues with Chelsea’s play, and that was certainly the case. For all their aforementioned pleasing moments in assault, they lacked high quality with parts of their defending and build-up play.
Chelsea Women performed with a excessive line of defense within the second half, permitting Arsenal Women to get behind them.
The greatest situation, which was extra noticeable within the second half, was their excessive line of defense. Carter, Bright and Eriksson regularly superior up the pitch, leaving an enormous quantity of open area behind them, and Arsenal seemed to take advantage of this at each alternative. Beth Mead tended to play on the shoulder of the Chelsea defenders, protecting them underneath strain, and he or she was the primary supply of hazard for Arsenal after half-time. Mead gave Arsenal a continuing passing possibility behind the defence once they broke ahead, and this was the rationale that they scored twice via the previous Sunderland Ladies ahead within the first quarter-hour of the second half.
Whilst Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger received the higher of Mead on this event, the blue circle marks Guro Reiten’s try to get again. The distance between her and Mead is just too nice, although, which demonstrates how Chelsea brought on their very own issues on the again via their poor defensive positioning.
Chelsea Women made errors with their passing, that means they misplaced the ball too simply in good attacking positions.
There have been additionally points with Chelsea’s passing at instances, which allowed Arsenal to win again possession too simply, particularly when Chelsea had claimed the ball via the house aspect’s often poor decision-making. Here, Sam Kerr is in place to obtain the ball and run at objective, however Harder’s move into her lacked high quality, as an alternative going behind the Australia striker and permitting Arsenal to clear their strains. Kerr, who changed Beth England within the second half, gave Arsenal extra to consider than England had, and maybe might have scored a objective, however moments like this confirmed how Chelsea as a workforce didn’t make their alternatives rely.
Overall, regardless of their good play, Chelsea’s efficiency was disjointed, with Beth England not having the specified affect, following hypothesis this summer time about her future on the membership, while midfielder Melanie Leupolz didn’t settle into the sport, leading to her withdrawal early within the second half. Arsenal have been predictably sharper, having already performed three Champions League qualifying video games towards Kazakh aspect Okzhetpes, PSV and Sparta Prague, however what was shocking was what number of issues Chelsea created for themselves, making it simpler for Arsenal to win the sport than it maybe ought to have been.
Arsenal Women’s attacking play
We have to this point seemed on the good and unhealthy of Chelsea Women’s tactical efficiency, however we are going to now flip our consideration to Arsenal Women, analysing the attacking play which introduced them their win.
Arsenal Women created choices for one another once they had the ball.
Jonas Eidevall likes his gamers to all the time have choices accessible, and he has launched a pass-and-move mentality to Arsenal this summer time to assist with that. This tactic was demonstrated of their attacking play towards Chelsea, with Arsenal making certain that there was all the time no less than one participant accessible to maintain the assault alive. Here, we see how Vivianne Miedema has moved to the nearside wing, and is now turning and trying to move the ball forwards, with Mana Iwabuchi and Beth Mead each operating ahead to offer her choices.
It is notable that each Japan worldwide Iwabuchi, a summer time arrival from Aston Villa Women, and Mead seemed to show the gaps in Chelsea’s defence, with their runs right here highlighting as soon as once more the area that the defending champions gave them. This state of affairs led on to Mead’s second objective and Arsenal’s third, so it’s clear to see that Arsenal’s fast passing created alternatives for them and elevated Chelsea’s issues on the again.
Arsenal Women’s gamers moved across the pitch to cowl one another, which was a key motive for his or her eventual win.
The motive that the ahead three might work collectively in tight areas was because of left-back Katie McCabe’s advances up the wing, making certain a continuing provide of balls into the center of Chelsea’s third. The motive that McCabe was capable of abandon her defensive duties to do that was as a result of Frida Maanum tended to drop into the left-back place to cowl her when wanted, as this picture exhibits. The Norway worldwide and former Linkopings captain is a flexible participant, and Eidevall highlighted afterwards how this positional work was one thing that they’d mentioned beforehand, which demonstrates the element that they went to with the intention to win the sport.
Under earlier supervisor Joe Montemurro (now answerable for Juventus Femmenile), Arsenal used a entrance three, however the huge forwards operated extra as wingers, placing crosses into the field for Miedema to get on the top of. Under this new type of play, there’s nonetheless a three-player ahead line, however Iwabuchi and Mead performed nearer to the Dutch striker, as talked about, giving Miedema extra assist and isolating the Chelsea again three, once more displaying the issues Arsenal brought on their opponents on this recreation.
Arsenal Women might select to base their assault across the partnership of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema this season.
We have already talked about how Beth Mead was the goal participant for Arsenal within the ultimate third, however there was extra to her recreation than merely entering into these positions. There appeared to be a tactical understanding between the England participant and Miedema all through the sport, with the Dutch worldwide dropping again into an attacking midfield place for a lot of the second half, while Mead performed within the area she had vacated on the high of the pitch. Miedema was now free to obtain the ball and move forwards, performing as a pivot in Arsenal’s assault, understanding that Mead could be there to obtain the ball when she launched it.
We know that Miedema drifts across the area throughout video games, and he or she typically appeared on the wings final season in her need to have the ball. This was completely different although, and had extra to do with Jonas Eidevall utilizing his gamers’ particular person strengths to profit the entire workforce, which can be encouraging for Arsenal followers to listen to as they try to finish their look ahead to the league title. It can be fascinating to see how this partnership between Miedema and Mead develops because the season goes on, as a result of it could possibly be what Eidevall builds their assault round.
Arsenal Women sat again within the second half, however used gamers’s strengths in the fitting method when counter-attacking.
The theme of Miedema having a free position behind the primary attacker was additionally notable in Arsenal’s defensive play. In the second half, the house aspect narrowed and have become extra compact, forcing Chelsea to mess around or via them and selecting off any aerial passes that they tried. They additionally sat again extra, simply as Chelsea had within the first a part of the sport, limiting the area the guests needed to play in.
It was fascinating that Miedema got here again to sit down in entrance of the primary defensive group, utilizing her talent to place strain on the Chelsea gamers, however she didn’t get ahead when Arsenal did win the ball. Instead, substitute Nikita Parris, Arsenal’s summer time arrival from Lyon Feminin, had that activity, and this was clearly one thing else that Jonas Eidevall had considered beforehand. Therefore, we are able to see how their techniques and adaptableness have been important in serving to them to win the sport, and can be necessary because the season goes on.
In conclusion, after we contemplate the completely different conditions highlighted on this evaluation, it isn’t onerous to see why Arsenal Women got here out on high towards Chelsea Women on this pulsating encounter. However, we mustn’t get too carried away with this, as Chelsea did pose a menace, however lacked general high quality and made errors with their passing and decision-making at instances. Emma Hayes described her workforce as “rusty”, and, as soon as they’re again of their regular rhythm, they’ll play higher than they did right here. Ultimately, although, there can be some who will draw conclusions from this end result, because it could possibly be decisive within the WSL title battle, and it’s onerous to disagree that Arsenal, for the second no less than, at the moment are in a promising place.
Arsenal’s subsequent recreation sees them journey to Slavia Prague for the second leg of their Champions League qualifying second spherical tie, earlier than a visit to Reading Women subsequent weekend. Chelsea, in the meantime, will look to attain their first factors of the season once they host Everton Women at Kingsmeadow.

I’m a contract sports activities analyst, presently Head of Women’s Football at Total Football Analysis, Site Lead at Total Rugby Analysis, and in addition write content material for my very own weblog (
I’m a fan of Liverpool FC and Leicester Tigers. I really like to look at soccer, rugby union, Formula 1, Formula E and tennis, in addition to different sports activities sometimes.

Topics #Arsenal #Chelsea #FAWSL #women