Arsenal Women 2023/24: Stunning goals galore but WSL title proves to be elusive

Chelsea’s emergence as the dominant force in the Women’s Super League in recent seasons has undoubtedly been a bitter pill to swallow for Arsenal. The Gunners last won the title in 2018/19 and were unable to prevent Chelsea from rattling off four consecutive successes over the next four seasons.

Arsenal went into the 2023/24 campaign with high hopes of knocking the Blues off their perch but could not get the job done. Chelsea were the pre-season favourites with the sportsbooks listed at www.askgamblers.com/sports-betting/bonuses and ultimately claimed top spot ahead of Manchester City on goal difference. Arsenal finished four points adrift of that duo but did add another trophy to their haul by beating Chelsea in the final of the FA Women’s League Cup.

With the dust now settled on Arsenal’s season, we look back at some of the standout moments starting with a recap of their best goals.

Spectacular strikes keep fans entertained

As befits a team with aspirations of winning silverware, Arsenal Women fired home plenty of spectacular goals last season. Cloe Lacasse’s effort against Manchester United was a standout moment, with her long-range strike leaving England goalkeeper Mary Earps clutching at thin air.

While the late goal secured a 2-2 draw, the result was one of several which scuppered their hopes of winning the title at the end of the season. Lacasse was not alone in firing home left-foot screamers last term, with Katie McCabe and Steph Cattley also getting in on the act.

McCabe netted a corker from a tight angle against Aston Villa, while Cattley’s rare goal left young City goalkeeper Khiara Keating with no chance. Caitlin Foord’s goal against Leicester City and Vivianne Miedema’s strike against Liverpool were other noteworthy efforts during the 2023/24 campaign.

Early defeats set the tone for a roller-coaster season

After exiting the Women’s Champions League in the qualifying stage, Arsenal were eager to seek redemption in the WSL opener against Liverpool. A bumper crowd turned up at the Emirates Stadium to watch what they thought would be a comfortable victory, but things did not go to plan. The visitors scored in the 48th minute before defending resolutely to secure their first-ever win against Arsenal in the WSL.

The team quickly regrouped, rattling off an eight-game unbeaten streak (W7, D1) to climb to second in the standings. That run included victories over Man City (2-1) and Chelsea (4-1), sparking talk that Arsenal were ready to mount a sustained title challenge. They came down to earth with a bang on December 16, losing 1-0 against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur to go into the mid-season break on a disappointing note.

Further defeats against West Ham United (2-1) and Chelsea (3-1) added to their woes and ultimately ended their hopes of staying in contention. The result against Chelsea was particularly damaging, with the Gunners failing to cope with a power-packed display by Emma Hayes’ side.

Miedema departure sparks plenty of debate

Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema established herself as Arsenal’s top performer after joining the club from Bayern Munich in 2017. She subsequently became the WSL’s all-time leading goalscorer, but an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in December 2022 was a devastating blow.

The 27-year-old has left the club this summer after her contract expired and is reportedly close to agreeing a deal with Man City. Fans are understandably divided about Miedema’s exit, with some claiming that the club should have done more to retain her services.

However, aside from her excellent goal against Liverpool, the Dutch star looked a shadow of her former self whenever she played last season. Manager Jonas Eidevall’s style of play does not seem to suit Miedema, which adds further weight to the argument supporting her exit from the club.

While allowing Miedema to leave is undoubtedly a gamble, there is a suspicion that her best days are already behind her due to the ACL injury. After being brave enough to jettison the forward, Eidevall is under pressure to make sure he does not live to regret his decision.

Eidevall is yet to prove he is the right man for the job

Having enjoyed success under previous manager Joe Montemurro, the team has slipped behind their main rivals since Eidevall replaced him. The players have become less progressive over the past three seasons, which has hindered their hopes of keeping pace with Chelsea and Man City.

Intriguingly, the 41-year-old firmly believes he has Arsenal heading in the right direction and says they are more ‘dynamic and fluid’ than previously. “The way we have played our midfield three is the thing we’ve changed the most in the time I’ve been here,” he told Sky Sports. “We’ve played a lot with two sixes and a ten, but the way those players have been able to rotate and fill spaces, we’ve improved massively on.

“The performance we had at the Emirates against Chelsea (W4-1) showcased how far we have come in two-and-a-half seasons. Now it’s up to us to say we do have that potential, and I truly believe we can beat any team. To transfer that into trophies, we have to do that consistently. That’s the really hard part, to do in football, but we need to do it better than anyone else.”

While Eidevall’s comments indicate that he understands where Arsenal have fallen short during his time in charge, changing the dynamic will not be easy. With Chelsea embarking on a new era following Hayes’ exit from the club, Arsenal have a golden opportunity to force their way into title contention next season.

The signing of Spanish international attacker Mariona Caldentey from Barcelona is a statement of intent, and another couple of high-profile signings could follow. The summer transfer window allows Eidevall to shape the squad to his liking. The sky could be the limit next season if he gets the necessary pieces in place.

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