It’s finally here, the game that Spurs fans have been waiting years for and could be forgiven, at times, for thinking might never happen. An FA Women’s Super League tie against Arsenal.
It is the cross that Spurs fans have had to bear, that there is no denying the team from the red side of North London have been a shining light in the women’s game.
For years there was no comparison and even now it’s hard to see beyond the skill and experience of this Arsenal side. The neutral might say Spurs have no hope in this fixture after losing 6-0 in pre-season and it is true Spurs fans have no expectation of a result in this game, but we always have hope.
When we won promotion at the end of last season, observers were quick to question whether Spurs
could survive a season in the FA Women’s Super League but some savvy summer signings quickly led to positive responses in the media and some strong performances at the start of the season have shown we can compete in this league.
The game comes on the heels of a surprising result for Arsenal against Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Women’s Continental Cup last week, which shows they are not unstoppable.
This was always going to be a huge fixture for the fans and players but the fact the game will be
played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium really cements it’s status as the biggest game many of the
players will have played in. Spurs have already played in two of the best attended games this season
but we’re all hoping this will be the biggest and beat the record set by the Manchester derby. For
many Spurs fans it will be their first opportunity to get to the new stadium and the sense of
excitement is palpable.
The game comes at an interesting point in the season as the start of the season nerves fade away
and the fans start to feel they have the measure of many of the new players. It is noticeable that the
fans have started to reflect on the season so far and draw their own conclusions about the way in
which the team was built over the summer and how the team is shaping up on the field. There is an
acceptance among the fans of the players who were released and the reasons for that, what some
fans are starting to struggle with now is some aspects of the team selection.
It has also been a good international break for several Spurs players including Hannah Godfrey who got her first call-up, start and goal for Scotland and Megan Wynne who started her first game for Wales after some impressive substitute performances. Josie Green and Anna Filbey were also involved for Wales whilst Rachel Furness played against them with Northern Ireland and Ria Percival played for New Zealand. These blossoming international careers will hopefully bring a boost in confidence to the squad.
Who will start in the game this afternoon is by no means a given. Becky Spencer is likely to start in goal with Filbey and Godfrey at centre-back but the full-back positions are not set, I’d like to see Siri Worm and Ashleigh Neville start but Percival may well get the nod.
In midfield the ever-present Chloe Peplow is likely to be joined by Kit Graham and Furness with Rianna Dean upfront. The last two spots could be filled by several players and if Percival doesn’t start at right back she will probably start in midfield joined by either Green or Lucy Quinn. I’d like to see Coral-Jade Haines, Lucia Leon and Wynne get more game time and hope they are at least on the bench for this one.
Win, lose or draw, the Spurs fans will enjoy the day and if the players play with the heart and commitment that they have demonstrated so far this season, they will hopefully be rewarded with
bigger attendances at The Hive for the rest of the campaign. The hard work however, really begins afterthis game, the excitement of the new season and games in the big stadiums will be behind us and
the real work of establishing ourselves begins.
By Sian Wallis (@Sian_Wallis)