By any metric you choose, Tottenham Hotspur Women are having a legitimately good debut season in the top flight of English women’s football. Promoted for the first time last season, Spurs voluntarily became a fully professional side (required by Women’s Super League regulations) and invested in the club, bringing in a substantial number of new players with top flight experience.
After thirteen matches, Spurs are in seventh place with 16 points — comfortably mid-table and only three points out of fourth, but well back of the three WSL giants that lead the league — Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal. While Spurs have beaten nearly all of the teams they should have beaten by this point in the season, they have yet to topple one of the Big Three.
They get another chance on Sunday in the second WSL North London Derby against Arsenal. In November, Spurs hosted Arsenal in the first ever women’s match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, falling 2-0 in a match that was closer than anyone probably anticipated. It was, in fact, the narrowest defeat to Arsenal in recent memory.
But if you ask Tottenham’s co-manager Juan Amoros, he’ll tell you that Spurs are closer to getting a result against Arsenal than perhaps anyone expects.
“From the defeat at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we learned that we can compete with one of the best teams in England. But at the same time, if we don’t take our chances in front of goal we will get punished. I feel we are getting closer and closer to getting a victory against one of the teams at the top. It was a great day for everyone involved and for the fans, players and staff. We made history by breaking the WSL attendance record and I think that the performance from our players was outstanding in how they kept fighting, stuck together and made it extremely difficult for the Arsenal players.”
For sure, no one expects Spurs to beat Arsenal, and for good reason — it hasn’t happened yet. Arsenal are currently third in the table but are legitimately one of the best women’s football clubs in the world, but Karen Hills thinks that Spurs have a shot at Meadow Park on Sunday.
“We’ve done well against the teams around us in the league but to pick up points against one of the top three is the aim and we are determined to make that happen. Arsenal have threats all over the pitch with fantastic players in every position. Vivianne Miedema is one of the top strikers in the world and our two centre-backs will be relishing the opportunity to play against a player of her calibre. We just need to be confident in our game plan, keep our concentration and make sure we’re putting any of our chances away.”
Tottenham’s last league match against Bristol City was postponed last weekend due to a water-logged pitch, so rest won’t be an issue but sharpness may be. One player Spurs will need to cope without is defender Emma Mitchell, a mid-season loan signing from Arsenal who is not permitted to play against her original club. That means stout defensive performances from fullback Ashleigh Neville and defenders Ria Percival and Hannah Godfrey. Tottenham may not get many bites at the apple going forward, so clinical finishing from Rianna Dean and Kit Graham will be required as well.
The match at Meadow Park kicks off at 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. BST. For locals, tickets are sold out but the match is streamed on BBC Red Button and for free (along with all WSL matches this season) on The FA Player.