Arsenal Suffer Late Heartbreak in Front of Record-Breaking Emirates Crowd

Arsenal players applaud fans.
Arsenal players applaud fans following their defeat to VfL Wolfsburg during the UWCL semifinal 2nd leg match. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Arsenal showed great resolve once again to come from behind in the Champions League. By the time that 180 minutes became 210 though, there was clearly very little gas in the task. It is all a story of what could have been for the Gunners in front of a record-breaking Emirates crowd.

Record-Breaking Emirates Crowd Left Disappointed

Where Was It Won and Lost?

Spending 45 minutes to an hour of the game kicking it long every time wore a bit thin for the Arsenal faithful. This was made worse when Stina Blackstenius was taken off and the already minimal aerial threat hit zero.

The Swede got a lot of joy out of the Wolfsburg backline by putting them under immense pressure. The opening goal was a prime example of this. Beyond her threat centrally, there were a lot of opportunities for Steph Catley and Katie McCabe on the left flank. Again, their resilience shone through above anything else which has been a huge positive in Jonas Eidevall’s side.

Another key performer was Lotte Wubben-Moy. She played with the spirit of an Arsenal fan and received an extra roar with a perfectly time slide tackle. It was clear to see how upset Wubben-Moy was when she was responsible for Wolfsburg’s winner at the death. However, her general performance lived up to the big occasion.

It was a former Arsenal player that scored Wolfsburg’s first goal on the night. Dutch midfielder Jill Roord spent two seasons in North London. It was a painful blow to see her stroke an equalizer into the bottom corner. Roord wasn’t the only player back on familiar territory, as experienced defender Dominique Janssen started at the heart of defence.

When Will the Injuries Let Up?

Coming into this game in front of a record-breaking Emirates crowd, the home side were already without a number of key players. The trio of high-profile ACL injuries to Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema alongside the absence of Kim Little and Caitlin Foord made for grim reading. In the absence of these leaders, McCabe took on the captain’s armband and had a major role to play.

McCabe was as aggressive as ever and never stopped running. On the other flank, Noelle Maritz struggled to get into the game and was replaced by Austrian youngster Laura Wienroither. The latter was the latest to fall foul of this rotten run of injuries in both the Arsenal side, and women’s football in general.

Chelsea’s Fran Kirby has recently suffered a major setback in her road to recovery which further stacks up the list of big-name WSL players out injured. This could have major ramifications on the Lionesses’ hopes of going all the way in the World Cup, Kirby’s injury adding her to the pool alongside Mead and Williamson.

There are questions to be answered, clearly, on the state of women’s football regarding this injury crisis. Back to the game at hand though and Arsenal came so close to getting over the line, against the odds. On the bright side, Chelsea’s exit means that the Gunners will hold on to their title of being the only English team to taste Champions League glory.

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