After stretching their lead at the top of the FAWSL on Sunday, the Gunners take on Birmingham City in the Conti Cup quarter-final at Meadow Park on Wednesday evening. Birmingham gave the Gunners a very hard time in the league meeting between the pair in November, with Arsenal eventually running out 3-1 winners.
But Birmingham remain as formidable as ever and are currently level on points with defending champions Chelsea in the league standings. City’s strengths are no secret, they have scored 16 and conceded only 9 in the league so far this season, Arsenal have scored 46 but conceded the same amount as Brum.
REACTION: Blues 2 Reading 1
🗣 "Adaptability is your greatest skill set. If you can adapt, you can be chameleonic and affect any game. We have affected that game and won it."
— Birmingham City Women (@BCFCwomen) January 6, 2019
Marc Skinner’s side have however lost goalkeeper Ann Katrin Berger to Chelsea during this window, the German goalkeeper was one of the main reasons for Birmingham’s stubbornness at the back. For Montemurro’s side, they are defending the trophy they won last season and will need to be careful not to glance too heavily at Sunday’s huge home game against Chelsea, because Birmingham will punish anything that does not constitute less than 100% focus and concentration.
UPDATE: It sounds as though Marc Skinner will be appointed the new manager of Orlando Pride, there is no official confirmation as yet, but tonight could be his last match in charge of Birmingham.
Kim Little came through 89 minutes of the 4-2 victory over West Ham on Sunday after 3 months out with a broken leg. Emma Mitchell also returned to the bench as an unused substitute after recuperation over the festive break. Katrine Veje has trained with the team a little more now and could be in contention for a place in the matchday squad.
Welcome back, Kim 👋
Who enjoyed seeing our captain out on the pitch on Sunday? 👀 https://t.co/eMceXdehtF
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 7, 2019
Leah Williamson was hobbling towards the end of the West Ham game and with new signing Janni Arnth on board, she could potentially be spared with Louise Quinn coming in at centre half. Jordan Nobbs and Dan Carter (knee) are both out, Tabea Kemme and Viki Schnaderbeck are looking to return from knee injuries in February. Jess Samuelsson (foot) is out.
LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal won a very hard fought WSL match at Meadow Park in November. Jordan Nobbs gave the Gunners the lead, with Birmingham equalising instantly through Emma Follis. A Danielle van de Donk penalty and a last gasp Jordan Nobbs goal gave Montemurro’s side the victory. The last time the teams met in cup competition, Birmingham defeated Arsenal 1-0 in Solihull in the FA Cup in 2017.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Beth Mead has not been as prolific in front of goal this season as she has been accustomed to in her career. But the England forward has undertaken a valuable creative role and three excellent crosses set up 3 of the Gunners’ 4 goals against West Ham on Sunday. Beth’s movement from both the left and right helps to create room for Miedema.
https://t.co/SN0nObgPlS Nice interview with Beth Mead on the official site. Had no idea that she had a choice between playing football and hockey professionally.
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) January 2, 2019
Beth recently gave an interesting interview to the Arsenal website, in which she described herself as a winger. “I’ve always been a striker, but later on in my career I’ve become a winger for England and for Arsenal. I guess the game has changed so there are fewer traditional centre forwards, but playing as a winger is also about scoring goals and being more involved in the play these days.”
With Jordan Nobbs out, Danielle van de Donk has stepped up with additional goals. Ideally, Mead will be targeting more goals in the second half of the season, but she has adapted to a new role impressively and can be pleased with her creative output. She is an excellent finisher unlikely to err when chances arise.
I will have exclusive match reaction from a player on the site on Wednesday evening, a full match preview for the Chelsea game will appear on the site on Sunday, with player reaction from that one on the site on Sunday evening too.