Arsenal is statistically the most successful club in women’s football in England, with 15 league titles, and 14 FA Cups and have the distinguished honour of being the only English side to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
However, Arsenal has hit a sort of roadblock. They last won the league in the 2018-19 season, with the next three going to Chelsea. The closest they have come is last season, ending the season as runners-up, only one point off.
This season, the race seems similarly close and looks like it will go down to the wire again. Chelsea leads the pack with 27 points in 10 games. The closest chasers are Arsenal, with 24 points but a game in hand. Win that and the two London sides will be level on points.
The Gunners are certainly doing all they can, with the last game ending with a 4-1 win against Aston Villa.
There have been setbacks though. Their captain, Kim Little, has been ruled out until next year no thanks to a knee injury. She hobbled off the pitch in the 3-1 victory against rivals West Ham at the end of October.
In the absence of their leader, Leah Williamson was chosen to be the stand-in captain. Williamson, England’s captain, herself came back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, after picking up a foot injury while on international duty.
Williamson has played for Arsenal all her senior career, joining the club in 2006 at the age of 9. In 2014, Leah made her senior debut as an 81st-minute sub against Birmingham City and there has been no going back since.
She has made the centre-back position her own, playing 126 times for her side and scoring 7 times in the process. Her game time at her club has also led to her representing England, with caps from the U15 level all the way to the senior team.
Such has been her level that Leah was made the captain of the Three Lionesses in 2021 and became the first to lead the country to a European trophy in 56 years.
Her return to fitness will undoubtedly be a major boost to the Gunners’ push for the title.
Since coming back, the manager has decided to give her limited minutes in order for her to regain match fitness, with 20 minutes against Everton, 62 against Juventus and another 30 against Aston Villa.
Coming on in her latest match at the 60th minute, something happened that caught fans’ eyes.
Williamson subbed in and ran on the pitch, and this is the norm, the captain’s armband was passed on from the acting captain and winger Katie McCabe.
Well, “passed on” is underselling the armband exchange.
Midfielder Lia Walti facilitated the exchange and the band was slipped on so smoothly that it has blown minds.
Here’s an alternate angle –
Arsenal Twitter is raving about this, with many even claiming that this was a practised and rehearsed move.
One compared this to an F1 tyre change, which are inherently known to be super quick, with four car tyres being swapped in a matter of 2 to 4 seconds.
Others could not fathom what they had seen.
All this said and done, no ‘smooth’ exchanges or ‘flawless’ transitions would matter if the team did not deliver. But ultimately, they did and that is what matters.
Fans would be hoping the need for more such exchanges does not happen in the future and that Leah Williamson and Kim Little can come back for good and play more starring roles for their side. They will need it if they want to knock Chelsea off the helm and win the record 16th title.