Away from regular Arsenal news, something has been stirring for a very long time now, unheralded, and that is the success of the Arsenal Ladies.
Last season was pretty spectacular, winning the league for the third consecutive year, the FA Cup, and narrowly missing out on the League Cup in the final. You’d think that would be a tough act to follow, but this season has been nothing short of incredible.
The league has been retained by a country mile, in fact the team are just three games away from completing the perfect season, having scored more than twice as many as anyone else, and reaching a three figure goal difference from only nineteen games.
In fact, unbeaten throughout the entire season, the domestic treble has already been sealed, with the FA Cup retained and the League Cup won, but with the standard of women’s football in England still mocked from abroad, it is the European run that has always defined Arsenal’s status in world football.
And for the first time, it is there that the ladies are shining. Having reached their first ever European final, they are up against two time winners Umea, of Sweden. It is difficult to explain how one-sided this was expected to be – imagine our hockey champions going up against the NHL winners, for example. Sounds daft, but Germany, USA and Scandinavia have always been the hotspots of women’s football, with every other country and league regarded as also-rans. And in a world of lop-sided results (as Arsenal are proving), nothing but a hammering was expected, especially over two legs.
Which is why the Gooners’ 1-0 away win in the first leg on Saturday was all the more shocking. It seems bizarre that such a dominant side in domestic football could be so under-favoured in a match, but this really was supposed to be David against Goliath stuff.
Instead, the ladies have a wonderful chance this weekend to complete the clean sweep of every competition they’ve been involved in. Even if they don’t, it has been a truly memorable season, and one too easily overlooked.
So let’s look on the bright side. While the men are toiling this weekend against Fulham, but surely completing the meaningful part of the season by getting the point required for fourth, the women have the chance to be history makers.