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Layth’s TAKE

Hello, how’s your 2024 been so far?

Strong showings in both domestic cups, a genuine title challenge, and the return of world class attackers, not to mention the comeback of a leader at the back giving off Tony Adams vibes.

What’s that you say? Doesn’t quite sound like Mikel Arteta’s side? Well you’re bang on. Because I’m talking about the mighty Arsenal Women’s team.

With two massive WSL home games against Manchester United and Spurs at the Emirates during the life of this particular issue it would have been remiss of me as editor of this highly-respected publication not to devote more coverage to Jonas Eidevall’s stirring side.

I have been hooked on Arsenal Women nee Ladies, since part of my brief when I was Arsenal reporter at the Islington Gazette newspaper was to cover the side at Meadow Park. Apart from regularly lifting silverware through outstanding football, I was blown away by the vibes you got from the entire team and fellow fans.

Addicted, I also started taking my two young daughters, and we all went as Gooners – not least because the inclusivity and the humble nature of the team meant they were far more accessible to supporters than the men.

My youngest still has her signed shirts packed with autographs from the entire team, who without fail signed every single autograph while stopping for a chat with everyone after games at Meadow Park – testament to the true link the team has with fans.

In fact, one of my proudest moments as a journalist was covering the first Arsenal team to win at the new White Hart Lane. Back when Joe Montemurro’s mighty reds absolutely bossed and outclassed sorry Spurs in front of a then record crowd in N17. In the press conference deep afterwards a journo colleague asked Joe what it meant for Arsenal to beat Spurs.

To my surprise the much-loved laconic Aussie (long before Ange Postecoglu tried to trademark that niche) replied with a glint in his eye: “Maaaate, why don’t you ask your maaate,” meaning me. Let me tell you, I’ve never felt prouder.

The fact is I absolutely love watching, supporting and covering Arsenal Women - and I will never apologise for trying to get others to get on board. Arsenal Women are just as much a part of The Arsenal as the men. And if you think otherwise then that probably says more about you than them.

They proudly wear our red and white - and if you’d recently have seen Leah Williamson speaking so powerfully about just what it means to play for The Arsenal then you’d understand.

So, the next time you get a chance, why not attend an Arsenal Women’s match. Or support them on the telly. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the issue. Come on you Gunners.

CONTENTS

JONAS EIDEVALL On the Arsenal loanees at Watford 8

HIGHBURY LIBRARIAN Focus on Kelly Smith 14

KEVIN WHITCHER Kev’s blog 28

DAVID FENSOME Liverpool - A constant rivalry 32 COACH MIKE Four tactical changes to win the league... 38

HIGHBURY SPY The spy’s latest mustread column 42

MICKEY CANNON On squad depth and a certain Ivan Toney 47

ALISTAIR COLEMAN Remembering those who are no longer with us 58

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