Legendary Arsenal Women captain Faye White says that she’s frustrated watching Joe Montemurro’s side at the moment – and says they need to learn to adopt less aesthetically pleasing tactics if they want to win.
“It’s almost like, ‘Oh, we’re Arsenal, we play pretty’ – we’ve got to be to mix that with ‘we are gonna play ugly if we need to, to get the game won,’ which at the moment they’ve not been able to do,” she told football.london ahead of the crucial Barclays FA Women’s Super League encounter with Manchester United at Meadow Park on Friday.
“I think they are best when they press and chase and harass from the front…and win the ball back there and then can hurt them when they’re out of position, but when we always have possession, they have to build up the play, it’s almost like we get frustrated, we can’t work through them and then the other team win the ball and hit us when we’re out of shape and score.
“So I just think they need to have that plan B really when things aren’t working – get stuck in, work hard, and win when you bully the opponent, and we just don’t quite have that at the moment.”
Arsenal go into Friday night’s game outside the Women’s Champions League spots in fourth place – six points behind third-placed United, but with a game in hand.
The 42-year-old – who led the Gunners to the quadruple in 2007 – acknowledged that Arsenal have struggled with injuries this season, but added that other sides have had similar problems.
“Kim Little’s been out, Jordan [Nobbs], and quite a lot the back line has changed a lot with Beats [Jen Beattie] and Viktoria [Schaderbeck] being injured as well,” she said, “but every team has that – look at United, they’ve got an injury list since the turn of the year too and yet they’re still picking up points.
“[Arsenal] got all their players last year before lockdown, and then obviously with that it all changed – American players became available and it’s almost like Arsenal got there too early.
“They brought in players and then they’ve been injured or they’ve not been able to feature, like Steph Catley, and Leonie Maier, she had an injury when she came in a couple of seasons ago, so I don’t know, it’s maybe a bit unlucky, but I think they’ll be frustrated because there’s a squad there that should be able to do that, compete with the top teams.
“Maybe [they’ve] not got quite the quality and depth that Chelsea have or are trying to get, but I think they still should be able to [compete] on those days with the players that they have – it’s just something missing at the moment.”
United’s manager Casey Stoney is someone White knows well – having played alongside and against her throughout her career.
“I remember when she played for Chelsea against us she had a spell where she was a young player-manager [in 2009], she took it on herself, and I was like, ‘Hats off to you’, because I know how hard it is just to captain, let alone manage the team,” she added.
“She is always not fearful to say something, and it was clear that she would [become a manager] and I think when she got older, she was quite confident to say, ‘I want to be a manager, I want to be England manager even,’ but then obviously the United job has come along.
“I knew she would do well in the league this year but not lead [the table] like she did for so long and it’s those games, like beating Arsenal 1-0 in November [in the reverse fixture at Leigh Sports Village] – she frustrated them and ground out a result and I think that’s positive.”
This season BT Sport is showing more Barclays FA Women’s Super League matches than ever before. Watch Arsenal v Man Utd on BT Sport 2 from 6pm on Friday, March 19.