A KISS DU-BYE TO THE TITLE – How The Winter Break May Have Taken Arsenal’s Title Chances Away

It was revealed in the new year that three of Arsenal Women’s first team players had travelled to Dubai over the winter break, breaching covid guidelines set by the government due to being put in a tier four lockdown. One of those three tested positive for the virus, this then postponed their match that was due to be played the following Sunday against Aston Villa. 

The player who tested positive is yet to be made public, Arsenal so far have decided to keep the matter internal and have dealt with it accordingly. A detail they did share however is that the players who stayed home and followed the rules were infact ‘furious’ at those who decided to make the long journey to Dubai, possibly putting their health at risk.

The Gunners played their first match since the debacle against Reading yesterday where they managed to scrape a point from a 1-1 score-line. Miedema secured the lone point with a close-range finish five minutes before the first half was over, 40 minutes after Emma Mitchell’s free kick was topped off with a goal from Bruton.

When it comes to overall performances, this was one of, if not the worst so far this season from Arsenal. Sloppy passing, miscommunication and the backline being caught out numerous amounts of times. Disaster was brewing from well before kick off when the line-up had been chosen, with Montemurro opting for a three-player defence – one of those players being the new signing and two-time debutant, Anna Patten. 

Realising his mistakes, the Arsenal boss made three all important changes coming into the second half, with experienced centre-backs Beattie and Williamson replacing Patten and Wubben-Moy and Gut making way for Mead. Evans slotted into the defence to make it a back four of solid personnel, but the damage had already been done.

Reading continued to cause the visitors problems by forcing mistakes and pressing high at every opportunity, creating plenty of chances to grab all three points from the game. Arsenal were lucky they couldn’t find the clinical finish needed or they’d have headed back to London with nothing.

A major flaw, and possibly the biggest one from today, was the squad’s chemistry on the park. There was no fluidity, no understanding of each other. Passes were being kicked out of play due to lack of communication and interpretation, passes that once would’ve found the feet of team-mates without a second thought. Emotions were running high, body language from the likes of Miedema displaying dissatisfaction at the services she was, or wasn’t, receiving. 

It begs the question of: has the selfish acts of certain players disrupted camp at Arsenal?  and could this cost them their shot at the league title? The tight-knit unit of the London club has to restore their relationship both on and off the pitch if they want to continue their quest for the top spot.

West Ham are Arsenal’s next fixture in the league when they play them at home this Sunday to try and make a right of their current wrong. A win and a good team performance would be a step in the right direction towards regaining the momentum and form they had going before the unfortunate events in the winter break. 

Chelsea sit top of the table on goal difference ahead of Manchester United, with Arsenal three points behind both clubs.

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