Tag Archives: Arsenal

History maker Ellen White among England’s best ever strikers

The most asked question after every single England Lionesses game for the past few months has been about how close Ellen White is to the all-time top goalscorer record and if and when she would do it.

It was a record that was previously held by Arsenal and England legend Kelly Smith, and she herself has spoken glowingly in the past about White’s capabilities to not only match this record, but to surpass it and set new goalscoring achievements.

This was a challenge readily accepted by White, who has scored the most important of goals in the world’s biggest competitions, but also dispatches with ease against opponents no matter the gravity of the match – she simply loves scoring goals.



Prior to Tuesday’s game against Latvia, White stood just one goal behind Smith’s record on 45 goals in 100 caps. Given the nature of the opposition, many expected this game to be the game where she finally achieved it. White didn’t disappoint.

What many wouldn’t have expected however, was that it would take only six minutes for her to tie the record, and nine minutes to become the outright England Women’s all-time record goal scorer.

The celebration from her was one filled with pure emotion and elation to finally be able to stand alone at the top, and was a celebration that showed the pride that her teammates felt on her behalf.

The reaction to her record setting not only crowned everything that she has done throughout her England career of providing goals, but was further evidence of how much she is loved and respected by her teammates and fans.

She had previously tried to downplay her expectations for this record, having been asked about it constantly with her response often being “it’s not something that I think about”.

Her emotional celebration spoke volumes about what it really meant to her – especially considering that Kelly Smith is one of her idols. Her first thought is always about the team winning, and she knows that her goals can help them do that, but to her the individual accolades are a secondary thought.

Still, the immense pride that she must have felt in this moment had to be celebrated by then going on to get a hat-trick in true Ellen White fashion.

What makes her so dangerous as a goal scorer is the fact that she doesn’t necessarily need a clear-cut chance to score, with most of her tournament goals coming from her sniffing out danger and playing on the shoulder of the last defender.

With a great mixture of both left and right-footed finishes as well as headed goals, there was no doubt amongst us as spectators that she would break the record. She currently has the record on 48 goals, and this is something that we would expect her to extend given her hunger and quality.

Alessia Russo, Beth Mead, Lauren Hemp and Ellen White of England attempt to pose for a photograph with their match balls after each of them scored a...

Consistent supply lines from both the wing and midfield are also at a high level, so where this record could be at the end of it all is extremely exciting for us and for the history of the sport.

White speaking so glowingly about the girls who scored their first England goals this Tuesday in the historic 20-0 win was once again a show of her humility and selflessness for the team. Budding striker Alessia Russo and electric winger Lauren Hemp were amongst those that scored their first goals for the Lionesses – and they later went on to score hat-tricks too.

White is really paving a way for those that are coming up behind her, and they’re having the pleasure of learning from someone who completely commits herself to the sport and what her role is within the sport which is invaluable.

But she is leaving behind a legacy that only truly world class footballers will be able to match in the future and that shouldn’t be ignored. White is one of, if not the, best strikers that England’s Lionesses have ever had and deserves all the praise she can get.

Ralf Rangnick can find out exactly where Manchester United stand against Arsenal

Manchester United play host to long-time rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight, and it’s the start of a new era.

The Reds have seen two games go relatively well results wise since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a poor run, with a 2-0 win over Villarreal followed up with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.

Michael Carrick has been the man in charge of those fixtures, and has vehemently denied that new interim manager Ralf Rangnick had any input on team selection and tactics.



But after being officially announced as the interim manager until the end of the season, Rangnick will surely have input on this game despite not being in the dugout for it.

The German is still working through the visa process and won’t be able to officially take charge of the team against Arsenal, but reports say he has already been looking at training tapes and analysing previous games to be able to hit the ground running when he does eventually take charge.

But with that time edging ever closer, it won’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he has a big say in team selection and training methods leading into this game.

Even if he isn’t though, this is a game where he will finally be able to see what the team is truly made of and the size of the task he has taken on. While Villarreal are a good team in their own right, United are supposed to be beating them.

Head coach of Manchester United Michael Carrick and Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo during Champions League match between Villarreal...

Chelsea are a team right now that would cause any team to adapt their tactics slightly too, so it’s no surprise United went extra defensive in that sense.

But against Arsenal, at Old Trafford and with a win desperately needed in the Premier League, they have to go for it. The fans will be right behind them, the players should be up for it to impress the new boss and they are playing against a team who have their own issues.

This isn’t an Arsenal team that have been particularly impressive recently, despite their results. Mikel Arteta is still learning on the job and while his side have started to somewhat resemble what he has been speaking about since being in charge almost two years ago, they still have glaring weaknesses.

On paper, the United squad is considerably stronger than Arsenal’s and they have the ability to put this team to the sword if they are firing. But that’s a big ‘if’ considering recent form, and Arsenal will be raring to go against a wounded animal.

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at...

If United can show their true level they should win this game. If they perform below it, then it’s very possible they get beaten and fall even further down the table in the race for a top four place.

But one thing that will be sure, is that Rangnick will have a much better idea of his task after 90 minutes at Old Trafford. Whether he can turn it around or build on it, is a different question entirely.

Renato Sanches linked with January move away from Lille

Renato Sanches has admitted he feels ready to make the move to a big club again after reigniting his career with Lille in France.

The 2016 Golden Boy award winner broke onto the scene with Benfica and with the national team during Euro 2016, before securing a big-money move to Bayern Munich.

But after a failed loan move to Swansea in the Premier League, Sanches struggled to make any sort of impact in Germany and eventually found himself falling off everyone’s radar.



That led to a move to Ligue 1 with Lille, who built a squad strong enough to compete and eventually beat Paris Saint-Germain to the domestic league title last season, with Sanches being a key player in the midfield.

That brilliant form led to him being linked with a move away from the club in the summer, before an injury ended any hopes of a potential transfer away.

Now back fit again and performing well once more, Sanches has revealed that he was close to a move to Barcelona before this season started only for the injury to scupper this season. Now however, Sanches feels he’s ready for the move to a big club should the opportunity arise once again.

Nicolas Seiwald of FC Salzburg competes for the ball with Renato Sanches of Lille OSC during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Lille...

“When I arrived at Bayern, I was not ready to play in such a club. I was very young, and when I got ready, the opportunity to play with this team never came.

“Today I feel ready. I understand football better, I have more experience, I know what to do to play in this kind of club and that changes everything.

The 24-year-old has found himself linked with a January move to both Arsenal and AC Milan, and the Portugal international has commented on the links saying he would be open to those moves.

“Maybe Milan and Arsenal are interested but I don’t know.

“I spoke with my agent, I know which clubs are calling and which are not, but I can’t tell now. I know I’m ready.

“If an offer comes in, I’ll find out what’s best for me.”

For Sanches it seems to be the perfect time to make the step up once again. His performances have finally become more consistent and his role is more defined, while he seems to have put his fitness issues behind him for the most part.

Renato Sanches of LOSC Lille and Portugal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Portugal and Serbia at Estadio da Luz on November...

In France he has achieved all he can, winning the title ahead of PSG, and a move abroad to a bigger club could give him more chance of further improvement and even potential European success at club level.

He has something to prove in the Premier League after failing with Swansea so that could appeal to him, but Italy and Spain certainly seem a better fit stylistically for him.

It will be interesting, but with Lille’s reported financial troubles well reported, he will certainly represent a nice bargain for someone in January or next summer.

Three things we learnt from Women’s Football Weekend

Women’s Football weekend took place last week and was a rousing success for the women’s game in the United Kingdom.

Games across the top league were screened on television as exciting matches were played and new stars were born.

But what did we learn from the weekend as a whole and how did it help to shape the Women’s Super League season? Lets take a look at three things in particular that came to my attention.



Vivianne Miedema is clutch

Although this should have been common knowledge prior to Women’s football weekend, Vivianne Miedema showed once again why she is deemed one of the best in the world.

With Spurs on the brink of a historic victory against their north London rivals, Miedema rose the highest from a corner in the 92nd minute of the match to grab a point for her side.

Her stoppage time equaliser epitomised everything she’s about within the box – not only a hugely physical presence, but more so her desire to sniff out danger and weakness of the opposition.

Viv seemed to understand what was at stake as she headed the ball into the back of the net and her reaction to the goal summed up just how clutch she is.

Immediately after scoring, she instructed Nikita Parris to grab the ball and for the rest of her teammates to focus – shouting “THINK!” as her side sought after a winner. What a player. What a team.

Arsenal are becoming used to winning and it’s a feeling that Miedema wants to have running through the club. She embodies everything that the coach Jonas Eidvall is trying to create.


Rehanne Skinner is building a resilient team at Spurs.

Having taken over this Tottenham team mid-season, Rehanne Skinner was thrown into the deep end in regard to the fact that the Spurs team that she joined had yet to win a single game, despite being six games into a 22 game season.

She was tasked with steadying the ship last season and starting to build a team that would last in the WSL long term. After having worked with the players now for a year, this Women’s football week match epitomised everything that a Skinner team is about.

Spurs had never beaten Arsenal before, and this task was made even more difficult because of the great form that Arsenal are in – before the weekend, they were yet to drop a single point. However, Spurs were able to take away a point and were unlucky not to walk away with all three.

Rehanne Skinner, Head Coach of Tottenham Hotspur looks on following the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Tottenham Hotspur Women and...

The amount of defensive discipline on display from the whole team just shows how well drilled they’ve been by Skinner. Their awareness of high danger moments also points towards being an extremely well prepared team as well as the fact that they created many goal scoring opportunities down the other end.

You can really see the changes that Skinner is implementing with the team and everyone seems to be buying into her philosophy. A competitive Spurs only bodes well for making WSL derbies more competitive.


Manchester City are really in a tough spot right now

Manchester City’s injury crisis is unlike one that I’ve seen in recent time. At certain points, they’ve had 5 of their usual starting 11 out with long term injuries – luckily they’ve had Keira Walsh return to the starting line up following her injury lay-off.

It’s less than ideal having your first and second choice keepers out injured and it once again was an area that opposition looked to exploit. Normally these Chelsea vs Manchester City matches end up being the title deciders, however we were met with the opposite of that during Women’s football weekend.

City right now, especially in defence, look bereft of confidence and that is heavily down to the fact that they’re having to use a makeshift back four.

Ellen White of Manchester City is seen dejected during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Manchester City Women and Chelsea Women at...

Though Chelsea seemed to show no mercy as Jessie Fleming scored within the first 90 seconds of the game, I actually thought City did well with the ball and we saw shades of what we expect from them – a team that uses the ball really well and can carve out chances from any area of the pitch.

The main issue was that it seemed as though every single shot on target that Chelsea had was resulting in a goal, whilst City were less clinical offensively.

As their injured players trickle back into the squad I expect City to turn it around soon, but they’re definitely in a bad spot right now as results don’t seem to be going their way – suffering heavy defeats to the other “Big 3” members.

Streets Won’t Forget – Jack Wilshere

In every generation of football there is a selection of players that while they may not see the greatest level of success, are never forgotten by the fans.

These players are usually the ones that kept the fans on the edge of their seats during games, provided memorable moments and played the beautiful game in a beautiful way.

This series is dedicated to celebrating those players and giving them their flowers now, before they fade into the distance and it’s too late.



A player who many will see that fits into this category is former Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who as of this writing is still only 29-years-old but is clubless.

Breaking onto the scene as a 16-year-old, Wilshere shone in an Arsenal team under Arsene Wenger’s tutelage. A half-season loan to Bolton Wanderers followed where he managed to cement himself as a starter despite his young age, applying a physical touch to his finessed game.

He returned to Arsenal the following season and racked up a career-high 49 appearances across all competitions aged just 18 and 19 years old.

One of those 49 games is the one that sticks with all football fans as the game that marked his arrival as a mainstay on the world stage.

Arsenal welcomed Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side to the Emirates Stadium in the knockout rounds of the year they went on to win the UEFA Champions League. But they had to do so by beating Arsenal in the last 16 round, and Jack Wilshere was sensational.

Against Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets, the 19-year-old was absolutely dominant as Arsenal were able to sneak a shock 2-1 win in the first leg.

It marked Wilshere as a young player who could perform at the very highest level and from that point onwards, the sky was the limit.

The following season marked a pattern of what would become the legacy that Wilshere will eventually leave behind however. He missed the entire campaign with a stress fracture of his ankle that took longer than expected to recover, meaning he missed Euro 2012 with England too.

The following season he returned to the fold after 17 months out, and racked up 33 appearances in all competitions before 32 appearances the following year.

Wilshere’s career never really recovered though, as persistent ankle injuries consistently kept him out of action for prolonged periods of time.

He was the scorer of one of the great Premier League goals against Norwich, where Arsenal stringed together a brilliant one-touch passing move that ended with Wilshere slotting the ball into the corner with his right foot.

He was unfortunately never the same again, but the glimpses we saw throughout the rest of his career still explain why he is held in such high regard

The finesse he had on the ball, the guile when gliding past opposition players, the ability to turn and play in tight spaces, the weight of pass he possessed; all things that were of an incredibly high level at a really young age.

Jack Wilshere of England celebrates scoring their second goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier between Slovenia and England on at the Stozice...

He was able to take any game by the scruff of the neck and just dominate it. He was never afraid to ask for the ball, never afraid to play football the “right” way.

Despite his career being so short at the top level, it was memorable. If you were watching football regularly at the time, you can’t help but feel robbed of seeing a potential great in the making.

History may forget him one day, but the streets never will.

Women’s Football Weekend: Ones to watch

With Women’s Football Weekend fast approaching, it wouldn’t be fair to not dissect the players that you should you keep your eyes absolutely peeled to.

Due to injury we don’t have the full radar of the leagues talent on show, but there’s still so many showstoppers that you should be on the lookout for.

In order to not overwhelm you, I’ll keep the list brief – but you definitely don’t want to miss these players during this upcoming game week.



Lauren Hemp (Manchester City)
Position: Winger

It wouldn’t be right to do a ‘ones to watch’ list without the talent that is Lauren Hemp.

Outside of her Manchester City and England teammate Chloe Kelly (who is still recovering from her ACL injury), she’s probably the most electric player in the league. What makes her stand out amongst other people is the fact that she can beat every single full-back in the world with her direct and positive running. 

Her first thought always seems to be beating the defender and driving into the dangerous areas in the final third. Another thing that makes her so electric also revolves around the fact that she is comfortable going down the byline and whipping in a cross, but also cutting in on the inside and delivering a shot or killer pass.

Either way, her unpredictable nature, speed and decision making makes her an easy decision for ones to watch – both this weekend and beyond.

Lauren Hemp of Manchester City and Jess Carter of Chelsea in action during the Vitality Women's FA Cup Semi Final match between Manchester City and...

Kim Little (Arsenal)
Position: Midfielder 

Kim Little – where do I start? Probably the most dependable player in the league.

Between her intelligent movement, understanding of her teammates movement, and her ability to make a moment (even when dealing with scraps) is unmatched.

What makes her so dependable is the fact that this ‘moment’ with Little, may not even necessarily be a goal. She seems to just understand exactly what her team needs at that given moment and she delivers it. 

This could be her ball retention when her team is under severe pressure, but also the fact that she can single-handedly dance her way through a midfield and put it on a plate for her attackers.

Based on how Arsenal have been looking this season, it’s been the latter as she’s been popping up with goals and assists weekly. But her intelligence is a joy to watch and someone that I recommend playing close attention to as she’s at the heart of everything good Arsenal do.

Kim Little of Arsenal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between HB Koge and Arsenal WFC at Koge Stadium on November 10, 2021 in...

Sarah Mayling (Aston Villa)
Position: Full-back 

Sarah Mayling is known for the whip she gets on all her crosses, set-pieces or not. She has to be included in this ones to watch list because given the fact that it’s a local derby against what was her former club Birmingham City, I expect her to have to say in what the eventual result is. 

We’ve all heard of a set-piece specialist, but Mayling appears to have mastered how to manipulate the ball especially when crossing or taking free-kicks.

More notably, her set pieces have sparked numerous comebacks for her club and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her changing the game with her deliveries this weekend.

Villa have started well and so I expect them to be on the front foot in this game – giving Mayling the license to go forward and shine.

Sarah Mayling of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Aston Villa Women at Select Car...

Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
Position: Midfielder 

Since Fleming’s arrival last season, she has struggled for minutes in this absolutely stacked Chelsea side.

This has had less to do with her ability, but more so the fact that this Chelsea team is filled with top class talent all over the pitch. Following her success with Canada at the Olympics, she seems to have started this season full of confidence off the back of winning Olympic gold.

Her cameo performances earlier on in the season have seen her rewarded with consecutive starts – and she’s been sure to take her chance. 

The thing that makes her a standout for this weekend is the fact that she’s unpredictable. She fully understands the role that’s required of her in that Chelsea midfield –  between supplying the wingers but also making sure that she’s aiding the attack by making third-player runs into the box and arriving late.

Her ability to do this has made her so dangerous because she’s an excellent finisher as well as the fact that her decision making is beyond her years. I can see her making more strides this weekend as Chelsea look to make strides towards the title.

Jessie Fleming of Chelsea celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Aston Villa Women...

Hannah Blundell (Manchester United)
Position: Full-back 

There are numerous Manchester United players I could have put as the ones to watch out for.

Having already spoken to glowingly about Ella Toone and Alessia Russo’s partnership, I thought I’d choose somebody who has brought so much to the team both in an attacking and defending sense.

After spending eight years of her senior career at Chelsea, Hannah Blundell made the switch up north – in search of more playing time.

Her ability to stay calm defensively as well as in offensive areas has seen her slot into the United line-up seamlessly. She’s already registered three assists this season, and I can see her adding to that tally this weekend.

Despite the difference in location, United vs Everton games have been played as though it were a derby since Casey Stoney’s tenure – with United coming out victorious most of the time.

Hannah Blundell of Manchester United Women during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Leicester City Women and Manchester United Women...

That being said I expect Blundell to have a lot to do this weekend and she will need to be switched on, but there will be space for her to exploit and offer support to the forwards.

United have a legacy to protect when it comes to our fixtures against Everton and I’m sure Blundell will thrive on that pressure.

WSL Matchday 6 Report – Arsenal still flying, Reading dominant whilst United hit a block

We are already into match day six of the 2021/22 Women’s Super League season and so far, other than the injury-stricken start to the season that Manchester City are having, we are yet to see many upsets to the other components of the ‘Big Three’.

Whilst City have dropped numerous points to opposition that they previously would have comfortably beaten, Arsenal have been completely dominant – yet to drop a single point in the WSL so far, and only conceding two goals in the first game of the season against reigning champions Chelsea.

Meanwhile Tottenham, who in the previous season found themselves in a relegation battle, have enjoyed a great start with four wins out of the first five games.

Week six brought us some matchups that saw teams that we could expect to finish in and around that fourth spot – with Manchester United taking on Spurs while Everton and Brighton faced off. Here’s what happened.



Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

Ever the embodiment of a Carla Ward side, Aston Villa presented a difficult entity for Chelsea to breakdown.

As expected Chelsea absolutely dominated the ball, having 76 percent possession and boasting 16 shots in the game, despite Emma Hayes heavily rotating her starting lineup.

Within this, a rare start for the talented Canadian starlet Jessie Fleming – who went on to score the eventual winner; scoring a neat and composed finish following a great pick out from Ji.

The defensive set-up from Villa definitely did its job in frustrating Chelsea, but the quality that they possess – even when they rotate – is clear to see.

Everton 0-1 Brighton

Following the managerial change that happened at Everton after the sacking of Willie Kirk, I was interested to see how they’d look against a well drilled side in Brighton who like Tottenham, have enjoyed a good start to this new season.

New Everton manager Jean-Luc Vasseur attempted to provide some stability to his new squad by keeping the same starting XI as the midweek cup match, and someone who benefited from this was Kenza Dali, who again looked like a bright spot in the Everton team.

Despite this, it was Brighton that were able to score the winner in the second half, after Danielle Carter played in Aileen Whelan – a win that puts them fourth in the table as it stands.

Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United

As a United fan assessing the opposition before the game, I was aware that Tottenham were going to be narrow and compact – a problem that Manchester United boss Marc Skinner also alluded to both pre and post-match.

There seems to be a real lack of width in Skinner’s United side – an area that was previously used as a point of emphasis under Casey Stoney. Under Stoney we saw left-winger Leah Galton being utilised a lot more than she currently is, stretching opponents with not only width but also her pace and trickery at the by-line with her ability to accurately cross.

However, against Spurs, we once again saw a real lack of width which often made it easy for them to stop United in their attacks.

A key missing point for the United side was also the absence of midfielder Jackie Groenen who is vital in how they set the pace of the game.

Too many times were the United midfield especially caught on the ball in that first half and they were lucky to go into the half 1-0 up. That goal does however need its own special mention as Alessia Russo (who I’ve previously spoken so highly of), brought some individual brilliance with a wonder strike on the brink of HT.

She was on bully mode for the entire game – constantly pinning defenders on the halfway line and beyond. This allowed her not only to relieve pressure on the team, but also to bring the wingers and fullbacks into play. Her fantastic performance, as well as crucial saves once again from United keeper Mary Earps almost brought the team the three points. 

However, Spurs stayed in the game till the very end, and their determination paid dividend as defender Millie Percival saw her 94th minute free-kick sail all the way in without a touch. The bounce appeared to confuse everybody in the box and much to the delight of the Spurs players, rewarded the side with a well-earned point.

Leicester 1-4 Man City

Leicester scored what was only their third goal of this league campaign against a City side that are slowly starting to get important players trickling back into the side following injury lay-offs.

However, the Foxes goal in the first 90 seconds of the game didn’t stop City from sealing all three points – with Leicester continuing to give away too many chances in games.

They managed to carve out some chances in the game, but overall City were too good for them and managed to overpower them in the end. Lauren Hemp was a constant threat and the pick of the bunch from the City goals has to be awarded to Keira Walsh who unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside of the area giving the keeper no chance.

Birmingham City 0-3 Reading

Birmingham City were unable to respond to Reading’s dominant display at their ground – with another young Canadian starlet Deanne Rose shining brightest.

Kelly Chambers’ Reading side looks to be shaking off their initial early season rust and have now put together two consecutively strong performances in the league, with the forwards especially in this game combining well.

The loss however puts an even bigger strain on Birmingham City in their bid to stay in the league, as they still only have one point on the table. They’ll be looking to start building in next week’s derby against Villa.

Molly Bartrip of Reading tackles Sarah Mayling of Birmingham during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Birmingham...

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham

Where to start with Arsenal? They simply just do not look like conceding right now, and this coupled with the fact that they seem to be scoring at will makes them an extremely scary prospect for the league and for their competitors’ title chances.

Once again, the ever-dependable Kim Little was front and centre to everything good that Arsenal did in the game. The nimble and intelligent Little opened the scoring with some clinical finishing late into the first half and not content with just scoring one, she went on to score her 50th league goal soon into the second half also.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, probably one of the most in-form people in football right now Beth Mead joined in, adding a third after great work from Nikita Parris in the middle of the pitch.

The great thing about this Arsenal side is that they look like they can score from any area of the pitch, as well as the fact that they work with such intensity even when out of possession in order to win the ball back. West Ham made some good openings, but Arsenal never really looked like conceding.


Next Week is Women’s Football Week, so look out for some ones to watch on Friday!

Arsenal Women are a force to be reckoned with and serious title contenders


Last season Arsenal fell below their usual standards and found themselves uncharacteristically in a battle for the third and final Champions League spot with the ever-improving Manchester United.

However this summer the club had arguably it’s best transfer in recent history and that has resulted in them having both an elite first and second-string team.

Their supreme transfer window is just one of many reasons why they’re currently looking so dangerous; coupled with their managerial change, squad depth, and debatably the presence of one of the world’s best midfielders – Kim Little.



Don’t be mistaken, Arsenal already had an extremely good squad filled with internationals prior to this window. Their spine has been secure and for the past few years and they found a way to dominate teams due to their great balance of physical and technical ability.

Most notably, there always seemed to be an overload in midfield from Arsenal which was often hard for the opposition to deal with.

This summer they lost key members of their midfield in Jill Roord and Danielle Van De Donk. However, their response to this has been a mark of title contenders.

The combination of midfield signings that they made speaks volumes about both the short and long-term goals of the club.

Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord of Arsenal during the Arsenal Women's training session at Arsenal Academy on March 25, 2021 in Walthamstow,...

The signing of Norway starlet Frieda Maanum, who is still only 22 and has already shown such great maturity in her play, as well as Japanese international star Mana Iwabuchi who already took the WSL by storm last season after her short stint at Aston Villa.

In those two, they’ve added dynamic midfielders who not only replace the skills lost but add a different direction of balance for the team going forward long-term.

This alongside with the singings of Tobin Heath and Nikita Parris who also bring experience and tenacity in the forward areas has given Arsenal another dimension to dominate this season and really compete for the title at the end of it.

Heath recently referred to the Scottish magician Kim Little as ‘the best player she has ever played with’ – which is an extremely high compliment coming from one of the most decorated athletes in the sport.

Kim Little of Arsenal before the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal WFC at Estadi Johan Cruyff on October...

Nonetheless, this seems like a fitting method of expression for the midfielder who seems to have no major flaw. Her understanding of the game is evident on the pitch, both regarding the spaces she picks up and also her anticipation of her movement as well as her teammates.

The best way to describe Little (outside of her small stature), is controlled. Everything she does in midfield seems to be completely intentional and calculated, whether that be providing the final ball or driving with the ball to free up space for other attackers.

Her presence gives the team stability and a clear tactical-nous – which is a major reason why head coach Jonas Eidevall has consistently relied on her. Her game intelligence has aided him so much in his adaptation period to the club because she is able to pick up the team’s game-plan with ease, allowing him to focus on the finer details when preparing.

Little’s capabilities have also meant that she has undertaken numerous roles in the midfield this year – more recently closer to the goalscorer as seen against Everton, and Little’s versatility and ability have proven pivotal to the team as they have dominated every team in the league so far.

Arsenal Women Head Coach Jonas Eidevall during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and 1899 Hoffenheim at Meadow Park...

Having the stability that Little provides has also given Arsenal a basis to build their attacks outside of wing-play which has given them another dimension, which could prove decisive come the end of the season.

Finally, the managerial change could be another turning point towards Arsenal reclaiming the league that they last won in the 2018-19 season.

Following the departure of Joe Montemurro, the club replaced him with Eidevall who was previously at Champions League club FC Rosengard.

He has already boasted huge victories against both Chelsea and Man City so far this season, but what has garnered the most attention is his ability to be tactically perceptive – both of opponents and formation shapes.

He also has figured out how to best utilise his squad, even in abstract ways. We have seen him go into depth about how he views the importance of formation shapes and being able to change this formation mid-game.

Kim Little of Arsenal Women celebrates scoring her teams first goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and...

His ability to rotate to do this shows that the club is already well drilled in how he wants to play, despite not being at the club for long. This bodes well for not only his ability to play against the rest of the league but more importantly his aptitude for going toe-to-toe with the other title challengers.

All in all, Arsenal’s early form is giving more excitement and buzz to fans of the sport as well as neutrals who just enjoy watching good football. Last season, we saw a title race that went down to the final day, and if Arsenal keeps up this early form, we could see the same happen again.

Arsenal’s pursuit of Ben White deserves praise, even if the price is crazy

One criticism that I, and many other fans, have of football clubs is when they try to shop out of their price range.

In the past we’ve seen Arsenal linked with players that seemed way out of their budget or capabilities based on the status of the current squad and their performance over the last few years.

We often say that there is a market for a club in transition such as Arsenal, and it’s to take a gamble on players a step earlier than they would have previously in order to build a top squad for the future before the big boys start circling around them.

When Leicester do their business and sign the likes of Wesley Fofana, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans it’s because they’re willing to take the plunge earlier than the top teams.

Tielamans and Fofana weren’t cheap either, costing a combined £70m for a club who have only ever finished in the top four once in Premier League history. But the way they have turned out and become top players, they could now probably command that combined fee for each player individually.

Alternatively, they could build a side full of top talents who can now help them to challenge the bigger more equipped sides in the country. Sadly for Arsenal fans, as much as it may hurt, that is the bubble they’re in now.

Signing the likes of Thomas Partey is huge and something that the history of the club can afford them to do. They’re still a giant club globally and do have some name value when it comes to attracting stars.

But something that Mikel Arteta is doing this summer seems to be targeting is that young talent that can help them to bridge the gap. The exit of David Luiz this summer means that they need a centre back and for whatever reason, he doesn’t rate William Saliba whatsoever.

So the best way to replace him is to bring in a young, talented defender that he can develop into a top level player for the club in the long-term. That man is seemingly Brighton’s Ben White.

He shone for Leeds United in the Championship two seasons ago and then last year was great for the Seagulls, showing that he can cope in the Premier League. He then stepped into the England squad for Gareth Southgate at the last minute for Euro 2020, replacing the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Arteta would have seen him play centre-back in a four or three, wing-back, right-back or even defensive midfield. That helps him to solve several problems within his squad with just one signing.

He’s clearly a very talented young player with plenty of room to improve and a big fee is only ever remembered when the player doesn’t do well. Nobody talks about the £75m Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool, or the £50m Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling.

If White becomes a successful purchase as Arsenal clearly anticipate he will, then the fee becomes irrelevant.

Getting in a young, super talented player is a good thing for Arsenal and while the fee represents a huge outlay on a gamble, it’s one that they’re best placed to make.

They’re finally shopping in the right markets and they’re one of the biggest sharks in that pool, it’s time to make a splash.

Premier League 2021/22 opening day fixtures released

The Premier League returns on August 14th 2021 and the fixtures for the opening weekend have been released, including an absolute banger of a start for the champions.

Manchester City will travel to Tottenham Hotspur in their first game of the season, meaning a potential transfer for Harry Kane could be a nightmare debut against his former club.

City won the Premier League by 12 points last season to claim their third league title in four years under Pep Guardiola and will be hoping that with some investment to the squad this summer that they’ll be at the top end of the table once again come May 2022.

Last season’s runners-up also have a tasty game to start the season with, as Manchester United will host Leeds United in a Rose derby at Old Trafford too.

The sides met in the league for the first time in 16 years last season, with the Reds winning 6-2 at home before a stale 0-0 draw at Elland Road, but there were no fans in attendance so this will be a great way to welcome them back to the stands.

Newly promoted Brentford will welcome London rivals Arsenal to their new stadium in their first ever Premier League game, while Norwich City will take on Liverpool in a repeat from the opening day fixture two seasons ago when the Canaries were last promoted.

Chelsea will host Crystal Palace in yet another London derby, where the Eagles will be playing their first game since manager Roy Hodgson left the club at the end of last season.

Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester side will look to put the disappointment of finishing outside of the top four behind them when they take on Bruno Lage’s Wolves side on the opening day at the King Power Stadium, while ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez will be in charge of Everton when they take on Southampton at Goodison Park.

Newly promoted Watford will welcome Aston Villa to Vicarage Road, while David Moyes’ Europa League-playing West Ham side will travel up north to take on Newcastle United. Burnley will play Brighton in the final game.

Dates of the games will be rescheduled depending on television viewings, although the exact date for the changes is unknown at the moment. Kick-off times will also change depending on television selections too.

With the national ‘Freedom Day’ expected to take place on July 19th, all games should be able to host a full capacity crowd on the opening day of the season although that is not official yet either. Games are currently scheduled for the weekend of August 14th 2021.

FULL OPENING DAY FIXTURE LIST

Brentford v Arsenal
Burnley v Brighton
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Everton v Southampton
Leicester City v Wolverhampton
Manchester United v Leeds United
Newcastle United v West Ham United
Norwich City v Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
Watford v Aston Villa