Everton Ladies Head Coach Andy Spence believes midfield trio Angharad James, Olivia Chance and Megan Finnigan are becoming “a force” and could play a vital role against Arsenal.
The Blue Girls are down south to face the Gunners at Meadow Park in Boreham Wood on Friday night, looking to continue their three-match winning streak, kick-off at 7.30pm.
Two FA Women’s Cup victories over Bristol City and Lewes respectively have sandwiched an excellent league win over Reading, where James, Chance and Finnigan produced a tireless performance to shut down the Royals’ fluid attacking play.
However, the trio face another tricky test when they lock horns with Arsenal talisman and England international Jordan Nobbs, who is ably supported by Holland duo Daniëlle van de Donk and Dominique Janssen, both of whom lifted the European Championships in 2017.
But Spence has been impressed with his own band of international midfielders, with Wales regular James, New Zealand’s Chance and Finnigan – a mainstay of the England Under-20 squad – building a strong understanding in recent weeks.
“Those three girls are developing into a really good force and are taking confidence from knowing each other’s games,” he told evertonfc.com. “There is a nice balance with left-footed players and right-footed players, and in both an attacking and defensive sense, they all know their roles and are prepared to do that work.
“This is certainly an acid test for them. Janssen is bossing games from a slightly deeper role, and van de Donk and Nobbs are very creative players and two of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league. So Haz (James), Livvy and Meg are going to have a big job on their hands but it is one they can cope with because I have seen them do it against the likes of Chelsea and Reading, and on the training pitch.
“They will be up for it and that is important because you have to be aggressive and on the front foot. Midfield is regarded as one of the hardest positions because you have to do all parts of the game for a high intensity over 90 minutes. You have to be relentless and produce good quality in defence and attack. The girls are doing that for us at the moment so it is another good test.”
While James, Chance and Finnigan have a hold on the midfield spots in the Toffees line-up as it stands, the recent FA Women’s Cup win over Lewes has given Head Coach Spence food for thought when it comes to picking his team for the trip to Arsenal.
Jodie Brett, Mollie Green and Marthe Munsterman caught the eye as they featured at the Dripping Pan, playing their part in Everton running out 6-0 winners.
“For the girls coming in, it was very much an opportunity,” added Spence. “Some of the girls haven’t played for a while but their performances proved they have stayed professional even when not playing. They have been training right, preparing right and have been a good teammate. They have come in and done really well.
“Marthe, Mollie and Jodie, day in and day out, are doing a lot of good work but are coming up against a midfield that are doing really well at the moment. That is perfect for me but it is not always nice for players [who aren’t playing].
“The likes of Marthe, Mollie, Jodie and Faye Bryson, who have been in and out of the team, all understand that this is part of football but also that when they come in, they have a chance to shine.”