Another week with only two matches to report on, again featuring three very (indeed, increasingly so) familiar subjects. Only two matches – but FIFTEEN GOALS. Yup, this week was a bit unique. And not half as good as it sounds.
Wednesday 21st August. Arsenal’s men’s team, in the midst of the earliest ever recorded crisis in a football season, travel to Turkey desperately in need of a result against Fenerbahce in their Champions League qualifier. Arsenal’s women’s team, in the midst of a run of sensational form which has seen them score fifteen goals in just four matches, conceding only one along the way, travel to Doncaster Rovers Belles looking for a convincing victory to continue to keep up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
Saturday 24th August. Liverpool’s men’s team, having enjoyed an encouraging beginning to the season, travel to Aston Villa looking for a second victory of the nascent Premier League seasons. Liverpool’s women’s team, the league leaders going into the week’s fixtures, travel to Doncaster Rovers Belles looking for a victory which will keep them clear at the top of the table.
Look, we’re just going to make this nice and easy. If you’re a Doncaster Rovers fan, you might want to look away now.
We’re not going to go into the details of each match because, frankly, it almost feels like kicking a baby or something. What we are going to highlight instead is Doncaster’s admirable refusal to attribute the devastating collapse in their season to the FA’s verdict that, no matter what happened, they wouldn’t be playing in the FA WSL 1 next season under any circumstances. To reiterate – even had results been reversed and the Belles pulled off an (admittedly entirely unlikely, so statistically unlikely, in fact, that it counts in the realms of impossibility) astonishing season which led to their being crowned champions, they would still be starting next season in the second division.
Frankly, under such circumstances, most teams would simply have given up out of protest.
Back in the real world, both of these matches simply created a perfect storm around the club. The first an outstanding performance from the league’s form team, leaving the home side shattered and demoralised for the second, against league leaders who scored two penalties and played against ten players for 84 minutes, opening up a seven goal lead before half time.
The effect on the league? Liverpool remain 5 points clear of Arsenal and 6 clear of Bristol Academy having played two more games than their two closest rivals in the league. Doncaster are cast adrift at the bottom of the league with two points from eight matches, 3 goals scored and 29 conceded.
To be honest, this week’s roundup hasn’t been a lot of fun to write at all. Take nothing at all away from either Arsenal or Liverpool: both were imperious, dominant, thrilling to watch and devastating in their approach. But while impressive victories are great, when it feels so much like the dice are loaded, who really feels like a winner at the final whistle?
And now for something completely different…
But not Monty Python.
Actually, this is totally off-topic but quite remarkable nonetheless.
The brilliant Inspire A Jen, who you may remember we interviewed last month, this morning completed her 38th Olympic Sport, thus bringing to an end the single most remarkable 12-month project that I can even conceive of.
Jen – we are in awe.
Image from Popular Stand – Thanks!