FAWSL 2021/22 Preview: Tottenham Hotspur

The 2020/21 FA Women’s Super League kicks off on the weekend of the 3rd – 5th September. D2B is here to preview all twelve teams in the title race and assess their chances. We’re going back to an alphabetical approach this year and continue with Tottenham Hotspur who slipped one spot to eighth in only their second top-flight campaign…

Spurs Women are about to embark on their third successive WSL campaign…

Full Name: Tottenham Hotspur Women

Nickname(s): Spurs, the Lilywhites

Founded: 1985

Ground: The Hive Stadium, Edgware (6,500 capacity – 5,419 seated

Last Season, FAWSL: 8th place

WSL Pedigree / Club History

Spurs have spent the last two seasons in the Women’s Super League.

They were the beneficiaries of a unique runners-up spot in the FA Women’s Championship that was made available in the 2018/19 season; finishing behind Manchester United, which enabled them to secure a place in the new 12-team division the following year.

Following their arrival in the top-flight Spurs hosted North London rivals Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium recording the league’s highest ever attendance of 38,262.

Last Season

The final standings showed Spurs sat eight points clear of the division’s one relegation spot but the campaign wasn’t quite as straightforward as that suggests.

Tottenham were slow out of the blocks, picking up just three points in their opening seven matches.  They were royally thumped at Arsenal (6-1) during that period, but it was after back-to-back draws with Reading and Bristol City that former managerial duo Karen Hills and Juan Amoros departed and Rehanne Skinner was immediately installed at the helm.

Skinner almost immediately got the benefit of something Hills and Amoros didn’t: goals from much-hyped loan signing Alex Morgan. The US international had arrived prior to the season for some pre-Olympics match prep, but didn’t appear in a competitive game until week 6 as a substitute.

Morgan scored in Skinner’s first two games in charge – against Brighton and Villa – and went on to win the new manager’s opening three fixtures either side of the Christmas break. They were then awarded a fourth consecutive victory by the FA, after Birmingham failed to get a team out for their meeting.

Morgan went back to parent club Orlando Pride (undefeated) to get herself ready for the NWSL’s Challenge Cup. Tottenham, meanwhile, returned to bad habits, losing eight of their next ten. They wouldn’t secure another victory until the final day at Birmingham.

Manager / Head Coach

Spurs Head Coach Rehanne Skinner Some exciting signing

“It’s been a very positive summer in terms of the direction we’re trying to take the Club. We’ve made signings that, as a Club, we’re really excited about, and I hope the fans will feel the same. Now I’m looking forward to getting the players on the training pitch to start building relationships and maximising individual strengths for the good of the team.  We’re all looking towards that first game of the season, back in front of our fans. We’ve had a lot of changes and now is the first opportunity to get into competitive mode. We’re so grateful to have them back in.”

Rehanne Skinner, Manager TottenhamHotspur.com 7/8/2021

As outlined above Rehanne Skinner was appointed by Spurs halfway through last season to try and arrest a very poor start to the 2020/21 campaign. She has a strong reputation for developing promising young players, and Tottenham have a few of those in fairness.

Prior to her arrival at the Hive, she was an Assistant Coach to Phil Neville with the Lionesses and served three years as the National Head Coach for players between the 18-21 age groups. During this period, England secured a bronze medal at the U20 World Cup. Skinner has also been an Assistant Manager with Wales.

She worked for fierce North London rivals Arsenal, back in the day, assisting Laura Harvey on the way to their first two WSL titles, two League Cups and one FA Women’s Cup.

As a player, Skinner represented Middlesbrough and Leicester City, heading into a coaching role with the Foxes when she retired.

Recruitment

You’re in the driving seat now Tottenham… New forward Kyah Simon does her bit for the sponsors…

“I feel settled like I’ve already been here for months and known everyone for a long time which is a really nice feeling as an international player coming into a foreign country. There’s a really nice culture and vibe here. Everyone gets along well, and I think it definitely helps going to work every day knowing that you’ve got great girls and staff around who care about each other. There’s a good balance of experienced players, younger players, international and local players which is a really good mix.”

Kyah Simon, Forward, Tottenham Hotspur, via tottenhamhotspur.com 2/9/2021

Spurs really struggled to score last year so Skinner has set about trying to remedy that by freshening up the attack.

You may have seen Kyah Simon during the off-season helping the Australian national team to reach to the bronze medal match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She was the first indigenous Australian player to reach 100 international caps – scoring 26 goals in that time. Like many players from Oz, Simon has split her time between the W-League and the NWSL, winning two league titles with Sydney FC and one with Melbourne City.

Former Arsenal striker Chioma Ubogagu has also played in Australia and the US, netting 12 times in 58 regular season appearances for the Orlando Pride. She has signed for Spurs from Real Madrid where she converted seven goals in 29 matches.

Experienced goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela and French midfielder Maéva Clemaron have both arrived from Everton.

Korpela, now 35-years old, subbed in for the injured Sandy MacIver last season and went on to make four starts for the Toffees. She had 91 caps for Finland and previously played for Bayern Munich and Vålerenga. Clemaron, a hard working midfield ball-winner, spent her early career at Saint-Étienne appearing in 128 league games. Competition for places at Everton was fierce last year and she only made six starts.

Young full-back Asmita Ale looks a very good bit of transfer business. The 19-year old was one of Aston Villa’s better players in their first WSL season showing composure, quick feet and plenty of pace.

Full-back Asmita Ale has joined Spurs from Aston Villa.

Who’s moved on?

As one Australian arrives another departs. Versatile defensive player Alanna Kennedy has taken up an offer from Manchester City. She played nearly 1,600 minutes for Spurs last season, mainly as a central midfielder, where she read the game pretty well, but didn’t look particularly mobile. Kennedy tends to take a centre-back role with her country.

Free-kick maestro Siri Worm was released and has since cropped up at Eintracht Frankfurt. Maybe her excellent set-piece deliveries gave the impression that she was better than was actually the case, but in fairness the Dutchwoman looked a solid player that didn’t do a lot wrong – although left-backs generally need a bit more pace these days.

Forwards Rianna Dean and Lucy Quinn have gone to Liverpool and Birmingham respectively. Dean was rotated in and out of the starting eleven, playing as a centre-forward, but couldn’t find her scoring groove at all. She did score a cracking (winning) header against West Ham at the London Stadium in the 2019/20 season, though, which is a nice memory.

Quinn made just five league starts and was usually thrown on as a second half sub. She scored once last season in the WSL.

Key Players

Central defender Shelina Zadorsky went to Japan over the summer and became a Canadian footballing legend…

There aren’t too many left-footed central defenders around but Spurs have two.

Canadian Shelina Zadorsky has just returned from the Olympics with a gold medal, earned largely on the back of really solid defence. Canada conceded just one goal in the knockout stages (in the final versus Sweden) shutting out Brazil and the USA. On the face of it Zadorsky looks a bit too elegant to be a centre-back, but she’s more than capable of being physical, puts her body on the line to make blocks and can be a bit of nuisance in the opposing penalty area at corners and free-kicks.

Kerys Harrop is the other, although she can also play as a full-back if required, enjoying a change of scenery when she bombs forward. Harrop is no nonsense with a ton of WSL experience – approaching 200 appearances in all competitions. When she made the move to Spurs at the beginning of last season fans of her former club Birmingham were devastated.

At the other end of the pitch 21-year old Angela Addison has continued to make steady progress. Usually found wide of three attackers sat slightly deeper than a lone striker, Addison is nippy rather than full-on rapid, but she buzzes around defenders giving them very little time, has a trick and is capable of some nice running with the ball. She featured 21 times for the Lilywhites last season but only scored twice. She’s capable of bagging more.

Opening Day

Spurs host Birmingham on Saturday 4th September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They played the Blues on the final day of last season, winning by a single goal.

Pre-season

Spurs thrashed Celtic 6-1, but also found themselves on the end of a 4-0 drubbing by Arsenal.

Prospects for 2021/22

When you look at the entire squad on paper it doesn’t readily suggest that Tottenham Hotspur are going to be able to get much further up the table than they were last season.

Adding solid but unspectacular players like Cho So-hyun, Clemaron and Molly Bartrip to a squad that already has Ria Percival, Kerys Harrop and Rachel Williams. They’re all ok, they’re WSL level, but overall they don’t suggest a group that’s going to throw too many spanners in the works with the title chasers.

The club feels a bit ‘between worlds’. They’re not rubbish, but they certainly aren’t about to change the order of things. They seem to struggle to attract top players (alright, Alex Morgan excepted), yet when they arrived in the Super League Tottenham seemed more ‘on the rise’ than what has so far materialised. All of which is a rather long-winded way of saying that they’re probably a bottom-half side again.

Transfer Summary

Ins

  • Cho So-hyun (Midfielder)
  • Tinja-Riikka Korpela (Goalkeeper)
  • Maéva Clemaron (Midfielder)
  • Molly Bartrip (Defender)
  • Tang Jiali (Midfielder)
  • Gracie Pearse (Defender)
  • Chioma Ubogagu (Forward)
  • Asmita Ale (Defender)
  • Kyah Simon (Forward)

Outs

  • Gemma Davison (Midfielder)
  • Hannah Godfrey (Defender)
  • Lucía León (Defender)
  • Chloe Peplow (Midfielder)
  • Rianna Dean (Forward)
  • Elisha Sulola (Midfielder)
  • Lucy Quinn (Forward)
  • Aurora Mikalsen (Goalkeeper)
  • Anna Filbey (Midfielder)
  • Siri Worm (Defender)
  • Eleanor Heeps (Goalkeeper)
  • Alanna Kennedy (Defender)

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