Arsenal FC heads into the WSL season with high hopes and lofty expectations. We take a look at the Gunners and examine what their 2022/23 season may hold.
So, so, close
Last season, the Gunners finished second to Chelsea in the WSL standings by but a single point. Several moments throughout the season could have changed that result. Arsenal are hungry to claim their first season title since 2019. Several terrific signings over the last summer have bolstered the team’s experienced core of players. Will these players be the ones to deliver the title back to North London?
Arsenal up front
Vivianne Miedema. One cannot talk enough about her and the impact she makes on the pitch. The WSL’s all-time leading goal-scorer, the striker has shown that her game is multi-faceted. She has stated that she enjoys setting up teammates to score, and has played in an attacking midfield position. She is always a threat to score with her perfect knowledge of where she needs to be on the pitch. Equally at home as a number 10 or a number 9, she is always looking to send the Arsenal offense forward. Her summer re-signing with Arsenal means another exciting season is in store at Meadow Park.Embed from Getty Images
As if things weren’t scary enough, Arsenal also boasts superstar Beth Mead up front. The Golden Boot winner at the Euros and current Balloon d’Or nominee is playing the best football of her life. She had 70 goal contributions across all competitions last season, and she looks to light up the WSL this campaign.
The addition last year of Swedish striker Stina Blackstenius paid instant dividends. She and Miedema match perfectly, forming a scintillating (CBW) attack force. She has a full season ahead of her, with Miedema and Mead sending dangerous balls into her to finish. Look for the amazing Blackstenius to possibly score 20 goals this season.
Throughout the summer, Arsenal fans were asking, “Are we gonna sign someone big?” That signing came in the form of Swedish forward Lina Hurtig. After a strong run to the semi-finals at the Euros, English fans were able to see the quality forward that Hurtig is. A strong possession player, she is very comfortable in front of goal. She will be counted on to help direct the Arsenal attack.
In the middle
Captain Kim Little returns for her 13th season with the Gunners. One of the greatest midfielders to ever play the game, the Scot superstar is a calm, composed presence. She is the perfect midfielder—she’s able to play strong defense, then quickly turn the run of play into an Arsenal attack. She has been a prolific goal-scorer her entire career and is everything a manager looks for in a captain.
She’s back. Jordan Nobbs makes her triumphant return to the Arsenal midfield. Dynamic and determined, her work rate is legendary. Simply put, there is no one that works harder than Jordan Nobbs. She has scored 50 goals for Arsenal in her career. Her absolute cannon of a leg makes her a threat from distance, and she is eager to get back on the pitch.Embed from Getty Images
She hasn’t received as much press as some other high-profile defenders in the WSL, but Rafaelle Souza has been a stellar signing for Arsenal. Coming into her first full season with the Gunners, the Brazilian star will team with Leah Williamson to provide one of the most robust defensive lines in all of football. While everyone was watching Williamson lift the Euros Cup as captain of the triumphant Lionesses, Souza was simultaneously captaining Brazil to their fourth straight Copa America Feminina title. The two form one of the best center-half pairings in football.
The aforementioned Williamson is also in top form. Her leadership skills are obvious, and she can deliver an over-the-top ball right onto the laces of her forwards. Her decision-making skills are evident when Arsenal is defending, and her work rate is second to none.
The Gunners have a very experienced and solid backline. The ability to keep opposing teams off the score sheet is hugely important. As the old axiom goes: offense wins games, defense wins championships.Embed from Getty Images
Between the pipes
Manuela Zinsberger had her best season ever for Arsenal last year. After posting 13 clean sheets and a brilliant 0.50 Goals Against Average, she earned the Golden Glove for the 2021/22 season. At 26 years of age, she is in her prime. She has developed her awareness on the pitch, becoming a great distributor of the ball to her outfield players.
This summer, Arsenal signed American Kaylan Marckese to back up Zinsberger. The keeper comes over from Danish side HB Koge, where she started for the two-time league champions.
Swedish manager Jonas Eidevall enjoyed a very successful debut season with Arsenal last year. A very different style and approach from his predecessor Joe Montemurro yielded great results. Fiery and animated, Eidevall employs a high press and likes to keep the Gunners on the attack. Arsenal have the players to work very well within this system.
The finish for Arsenal FC?
I hate to make predictions. (Especially for teams I’m a fan of.) This Arsenal squad is really, really good. Their attack is second to none; their midfield is experienced and strong; their backline is steady; their goaltender is coming off of her best season; their coaching staff looks to be steering this team in the right direction. They have all the pieces necessary to win the league. Chelsea isn’t going to go quietly, however. This season’s title race should be just as exciting as last season. If the Gunners can make certain to take full points off of teams that they should, they should lift the trophy. (Hey, I did bet on the Lionesses at the Euros, so there is hope for me.) What a season this will be!
Arsenal begins its season on Friday, 16 September, with a home tilt against Brighton & Hove Albion at Meadow Park. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. BST.