In and out of the race for top two over the course of the year after looking considerably off of the pace before a change of manager earlier in the season.
Chelsea and Manchester City have uncharacteristically dropped points as the season has stretched out, opening up the title race as well as giving more teams a sight of a European berth for next season.
Yet, no team has been as close to pushing City down the pecking order as much as Arsenal, their own mistakes over the campaign enough to keep knocking the Gunners back.
A strong finish
In a match that threatened to decide who finished second this just two weeks ago, a slip up by Arsenal had them out of contention until the Citizens lost away to Liverpool in the week.
Despite an instant response to their own poor performance that saw the visitors take the lead early in Borehamwood, Arsenal turned the tie after the break. Grabbing all three points after a composed second half, responding to a poor showing of their own last time out in the FA Cup final.
“It was very important to bounce back and put in a good performance," said Daniëlle van de Donk."And because we wanted to stay in the race for Champions League so we’re hoping that Manchester City is going to drop some points but we’ll see.”
Up against two of the bottom three in their last two matches of the season, it looks like it will take something extra special from either Yeovil Town or Everton to take a point or three off of the reigning WSL champions.
For their part, Arsenal can only hope to win their last two against Sunderland and Bristol City (the other two teams that comprise the bottom four).
Looking well out of contention for any silverware when Pedro Martinez Losa left, the season has seen great progress for the Gunners and van de Donk admits that they’ll be proud of the season no matter what, to come so close and just miss out would sting.
“We’re getting better as a team, it would feel like a loss and it would hurt but we’ll take it.”
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"That's just Football"
Having dropped unexpected points over the course of the season, whether a failure to score against strugglers Yeovil or having been hit for three by Birmingham City, the midfielder remains measured in her assessment of the year.
“I think that’s just football, you’re going to have those games where you don’t feel as well and don’t perform as well as a team but by now we did alright and Joe’s a very good coach and we’re always improving.”
After a subpar first half that saw City have the run of the pitch, Arsenal came out firing after the break and reaped the rewards, positive encouragement from Joe Montemurro just what the team needed at the break.
“He said that we were actually doing very well and that he was proud that we were keeping the line and pressing high and keep doing what we’re doing just a bit more and to work on the security.”
Used in various roles around the pitch this term, van de Donk has been seen more often in a holding midfield role though she concedes she’d rather be higher in midfield.
“In the #10… but I need to get used to another role and I don’t mind either I just do what the coach wants me to.”