4 Aussies involved in game-changing Arsenal switch as worrying image emerges: A-Leagues Alumni

Welcome to A-Leagues Alumni: A weekly piece that keeps you up to date with the best stories from our products flying the flag abroad. The acronyms of the A-Leagues club(s) each player has represented are in brackets after their name.

West Ham and Matildas left sweating after injury

There are fears Katrina Gorry (MVC, ADL, BRI) may be set for an extended stint on the sidelines after the Matildas star was seen walking in a moon boot at the end of West Ham’s 2-0 Women’s Super League (WSL) loss to defending champions Chelsea.

Gorry lasted just 21 minutes in the defeat to the WSL giants following a challenge by Melanie Leupolz on Monday (AEDT), while Matildas teammate and West Ham captain Mackenzie Arnold (PER, CBR, WSW, BRI) started in goals.

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The A-Leagues great attempted to play on but succumbed to the ankle injury, with the two-time Liberty A-League Premiership winner seen on crutches and in a moon boot.

It is a concern for Tony Gustavsson and the Matildas, not only ahead of next month’s friendly against Mexico but with the 2024 Olympic Games coming up in July.

West Ham manager Rehanne Skinner said it was “too early” to know the full extent of the ankle problem.

“We need to make sure we see how that settles down overnight and then get her assessed as early as we possibly can and see what the outcome is,” Skinner told West Ham.

“She is in a boot – on a precautionary basis – as we want whatever swelling comes to settle down and then we will go from there.”

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Gorry made the move to the WSL from Swedish outfit Vittsjo in January.

The 31-year-old has started all seven of her appearances for West Ham in the league, while she also started a match in the Women’s FA Cup.

West Ham are second from bottom in the WSL – six points above Bristol City and the relegation spot.

It may not be the only injury issue for the Matildas, with a report from French outlet Canal+ suggesting that centre-back Clare Hunt has suffered a stress fracture in her foot. That report is yet to be confirmed or rejected by Paris Saint-Germain or Football Australia.

Aussie makes rare start as her team keep pace in WSL

Alanna Kennedy (SYD, NEW, WSW, PER, MCY) was back in Manchester City’s starting XI for the first time since November as her high-flying team earned bragging rights over Manchester United.

Kennedy has only managed nine minutes of action for City this year after recovering from an Achilles injury and she was named on the bench for Saturday’s showdown, only to be elevated to the starting line-up after Laia Aleixandri hurt herself in the warm-up.

The Matildas veteran made the most of her opportunity, supplying an assist as City triumphed over United to stay level on points with defending champions and leaders Chelsea.

“I wasn’t in the starting team initially,” Kennedy told Optus Sport post-match. “Obviously we knew Laia was injured in the lead-up to the game so for me, it was trying to prepare myself as best I can just in case.

“It’s a big occasion and it’s a last-minute change, so it took me a little bit to get into the game. But once the nerves settled, everyone settled into the game. Happy with how it went overall.”

Matildas and City star Mary Fowler (ADL) also started the game and completed the full 90 minutes, having scored in back-to-back matches.

The derby fixture, though, was not without controversy.

Jessica Park scored twice for City but her 37th-minute should have been ruled out as Khadija Shaw was offside in the build-up. However, with no VAR in the WSL, the goal stood.

“Where technology can be used to benefit the game, I think it should be used,” said United manager Marc Skinner.

“If we as teams start to play more games at stadiums where VAR is already part of, then maybe it’s more of a viable outcome financially. That’s probably one of the barriers to it right now.

“I think today it would have made a big difference in the game if we didn’t concede that goal – it shouldn’t have stood. For today’s case, it would have been cut and dry.”

Catley’s milestone appearance

It was an eventful day for Matildas vice-captain Steph Catley (MVC, MCY) and Arsenal’s Australian trio.

Arsenal’s WSL clash with Aston Villa was delayed by 45 minutes after the Gunners were late to arrive to Villa Park due to “travel disruption”.

The WSL giants, who will be in Melbourne for May’s historic A-Leagues All Stars match against the Liberty A-League’s best players, also saw their recent match with Chelsea delayed due to a clash of socks.

When the match did start on Monday (AEDT), Arsenal trailed 1-0 at half-time.

Then, Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall turned to his bench, introducing Stina Blackstenius, Catley, Caitlin Foord (CCM, SYD, PER) and Kyra Cooney-Cross (MVC, WSW) to spark a comeback in Birmingham.

Arsenal equalised nine minutes into the second half before completing the comeback with two goals in as many minutes during the closing stages as Catley celebrated her 100th appearance for the club with a victory.

The Gunners are third in the standings, six points adrift of Chelsea and Manchester City through 17 games.

After the game, Eidevall – who has Australian Aaron D’Antino (MVC) as his assistant – explained the second-half turnaround.

D’Antino previously worked with Ange Postecoglou, Kevin Muscat and Joe Montemurro at Melbourne Victory.

D’Antino (L) with Eidevall

“Me and the assistant coaches took some time before we went into the dressing room at half-time,” he told reporters. “The first half was not a bad performance, it is a bad result. It was a result that goes against the state of play, we had control even if we didn’t create so many chances.

“We were unlucky to go 1-0 down. We changed two things. Villa were really, really compact in their organisation in their 5-3-2. It was really important to attack on one side with a structure and start dragging their 10s out on that side and then, with speed and determination, go over on the other side. That was where we would open them up.

“Once we got that clarity in the second half, we dragged them out and changed the point of attack and started to create some really clear chances. The other thing we spoke about was that Villa really wanted to play out from the back.

“When you win the ball in those moments against a low block, we needed to be much more forward oriented when you win the ball in these pressing situations and try to create from that. We did that really well in the second half as well. At times when you are 1-0 down, you want to try to put over so much information but I think experience told me and the team, in these situations, it’s important to get the details right that we really need to focus on what is going to make a difference.

“We said let’s not review what happened in the first half, let’s look into the future and paint a picture of what is going to be for us to be successful.

I think we did that well, big credit to the players because they problem solved, they were solution oriented, cool under pressure in the second half.

“We were so methodical and we kept on believing if we didn’t convert, we would create more chances. That was a really high performing team in a pressure situation.”

Former Jets boss resigns in Thailand… where his team are top!

Arthur Papas (NEW) sensationally stepped down from his role as head coach of Thai champions Buriram United.

The Australian made the big statement with Buriram top of the table with just one loss in 21 league games.

Buriram were also nine games unbeaten during the international break.

“I want to extend my deepest thanks to all associated at Buriram United for the opportunity to work at the club for the past year,” Papas said.

“There have been plenty of highlights, including wins over Zhejiang and Melbourne City in the Asian Champions League.

“With the team top of the table by four points, with the second highest number of goals scored and second fewest conceded, now is the time for me to step away and pursue my next challenge with the club in a brilliant position to win a third straight league title.”

Elsewhere abroad…

Kaitlyn Torpey (BRI, MCY) made her National Women’s Soccer League debut for NWSL Shield holders San Diego Wave.

The former Melbourne City star came off the bench for her bow in San Diego’s season-opening 2-1 loss to KC Current, while Emily van Egmond (NEW, CBR, WSW, MCY) started for the Wave.

San Diego lost but they hosted 32,066 fans in the club’s home opener – setting a new NWSL home opener attendance.

Hillary Beall (WUN) was on the bench for San Diego, while Jordan Silkowitz (BRI) was among the opposing substitutes.

In France, Ellie Carpenter (WSW, CBR, MCY) and defending champions Lyon humbled Lille 7-0 in Division 1 Feminine.

Clare Hunt (WSW) was not in the squad for Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-1 win over Montpellier, while Sarah Hunter (WSW, SYD) was also absent as Paris FC were stunned 2-1 by Fleury.

Over in Spain, Hayley Raso was a 62nd-minute substitute for Real Madrid in their 3-0 derby defeat to Liga F leaders Barcelona.

Aivi Luik (BRI, PER, MCY) was rested as BK Hacken crushed Kristianstads DFF 7-2 in the Svenska Cup in Sweden. Amy Sayer (CBR, SYD) and Clare Polkinghorne (BRI) both started for the beaten side.