Fresh off the back of winning the Women’s Super League, Joe Montemurro has strengthened his squad with four new recruits in a variety of positions.
Manuela Zinsbeger has been brought in to replace Sari van Veenendaal, Jill Roord adds competition to our midfield, Leonie Maier strengthens our defence, while Jennifer Beattie has returned for her second spell with the club.
It’s safe to say that we’ve recruited four dynamic players with a wealth of international experience - but what will they add to Montemurro’s side?
Read on to find out…
With all the characteristics of a modern-day goalkeeper, Zinsberger will push Pauline Peyraud-Magnin all the way for a starting-berth throughout 2019/20.
The 24-year-old has spent the last five years of her career with Bayern Munich, winning two Frauen Bundesliga titles, and remains Austria’s first-choice goalkeeper with more than 40 caps to her name.
Since arriving at the club in November 2017, Montemurro has encouraged a progressive and attack-minded style of play, with great emphasis on playing out from the back. This philosophy plays perfectly into Zinsberger’s strengths.
Comfortable on the ball and capable of switching play with first-time passes, Manuela will be a useful asset in helping us break the opposition’s press, maintaining momentum and kickstarting attacks.
The sooner she can switch the ball to our high-energy wing-backs, the sooner we can drive forward into space and find a numerical advantage.
Another notable characteristic of our defence is our tendency to play a high line - and once again, this suits Zinsberger down to the ground.
Athletic and light on her feet, you can bank on Zinsberger being alert and quick off her line to clear any searching through balls.
A tough-tackling defender with plenty of experience, Beattie is a different player now to the one that left the club in 2013.
Previously a striker, left back and centre-half, the Scotland international has since established herself as a central defender for club and country.
Her partnership with Steph Houghton last season proved to be one of the most formidable in England’s top flight, as Nick Cushing’s side went 19 league fixtures unbeaten, before being unlocked by Montemurro’s side, no less.
Standing at 5ft 10in, Beattie will provide a towering physical presence at the back, helping to compensate for our diminutive midfield and attack. But don’t be mistaken, these traits don’t come at the cost of ball-playing ability.
Manchester City registered an average possession rate of 60.7 per cent in the WSL last season, just one per cent short of Arsenal. Breaking down deep blocks will be nothing new to Beattie.
It’s also worth noting that she completed the fifth-most passes in the WSL last season (1,264) at a pass-completion rate of 86.5% - the highest in the division. Only Leah Williamson completed more passes at Arsenal (1,273).
A dynamic right-sided defender, Maier is a welcome addition to one of our most physically-demanding positions.
The German international is a specialist in one-on-one defensive situations, but is also confident in the final third, having scored 10 goals in 70 appearances for her country.
Being multi-skilled is essential as a wing-back in Montemurro’s system, given that you’re expected to contribute to each and every phase of play. From creating passing options for the keeper and making last-ditch tackles, to providing width and crossing from the byline; you need to do it all.
Lisa Evans spent the majority of last season as our one and only right wing-back, but with Tabea Kemme back from injury, we suddenly have a wealth of defensive and attacking options down the right flank.
With Maier at right back and Evans on the wing, we have bags of energy and technical ability at our disposal. They could even work in rotation at the back during busy periods, with one of Beth Mead or Katie McCabe starting on the right of a front three.
Either way, we have three talented and versatile right-sided players who will give their all for a starting-berth in the side.
A dynamic midfielder with a habit of popping up in the final third, Roord provides serious competition to our already world-class midfield.
Lia Walti, Jordan Nobbs, Kim Little and Danielle van de Donk enjoyed an exceptional 2018/19 - but with the return of Champions League football and Montemurro favouring a midfield three, rotation will be necessary to maintain the required tempo for our style of play.
Many midfielders would fail to compete with such talent around them - but Roord is coming into this season off the back of a successful World Cup campaign with the Netherlands, in addition to boasting plenty of Champions League experience.
A technical midfielder with an engine to match, Roord’s at her best when she’s operating between the lines, dropping deep to receive the ball before bursting forward and playing one-twos.
Montemurro’s philosophy offers great freedom to his midfielders - and this will no doubt benefit Roord, who loves a late arrival into the penalty area.
The 22-year-old has made 28 appearances in the Champions League to date, scoring an incredible 18 goals along the way. Such experience could prove vital in our pursuit for European success.
With just less than a month to go until our opening Women’s Super League fixture, make sure you catch our summer signings in action during our pre-season clashes against Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur.
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