Fiorentina Women v Arsenal Preview

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Arsenal Women Match Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal travel to Florence for their first Champions League tie in five and a half years. Fiorentina finished second in Série A last season, given Arsenal were unseeded in the draw, they will be grateful to have avoided European heavyweights Wolfsburg and Lyon. However, Fiorentina are very far from the worse team in the seeded side of the draw.

For the Gunners, the Champions League is a new experience- Joe Montemurro even told me last month ‘they are the favourites, they have been there before and we haven’t.’ I suspect Joe was being slightly cute, later in the same interview he said, ‘The plan is not to contain in Florence and try to win here, the plan is to try and win in Florence and come back here and try to win again.’ Arsenal are favourites, but not absolutely emphatically so.

The Fiorentina match marks the midway point of a triumvirate of three games; Arsenal began the season with a 2-1 home win against West Ham, now they travel to Italy before playing a mouthwatering WSL encounter away at Manchester United on Monday evening. That means Montemurro will look to shuffle his pack again on Thursday.

The match also means a quick reunion with Danish centre-half Janni Arnth, who joined the Florentine club last month. The tie also pits Joe Montemurro against one of his former players from his Melbourne days Lisa de Vanna- Lisa has never made her distaste for Montemurro a secret though she is sketchy on the reasons for the fallout.

TEAM NEWS
Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema should return after being rested for the victory over West Ham on Sunday due to a tight hamstring. Joe Montemurro told reporters that Miedema was spared because, “we want her 100% fit not 90%.” Viv trained on Saturday and could have played the West Ham game at a push.

Katrine Veje has travelled with the squad after missing Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, while Danielle Carter (knee), Lia Walti (knee) and Tabea Kemme (knee) will all miss out. Montemurro may also look to bring in the likes of Louise Quinn and Emma Mitchell who started on the bench on Sunday, while Jordan Nobbs will continue her rehabilitation from the subs bench.

LAST TIME OUT
The teams have never played one another before. The Gunners last Champions League tie saw them comfortably beaten on aggregate by Birmingham City at a transitional time for the club with Shelley Kerr having just taken the reins from Vic Akers. Fiorentina don’t begin their domestic season until this weekend with a local derby against Florentia.

THE OPPOSITION
Fiorentina were formed in 2015 when the club took over AFC Firenze’s Série A license. They were the first fully professional women’s club in Italy and won the league title in 2016-17 before Juventus were formed. Last season, Fiorentina were eliminated from the tournament by then WSL Champions Chelsea, so the tie represents a touch of déjà vu for the home side.

They narrowly lost the first leg 1-0 at Kingsmeadow before capitulating to a 6-0 defeat at home in the second leg. It remains to be seen whether boss Antonio Cincotta- who said he expects 180 minutes of hell from this tie– tailors his approach so that his team do not suffer a similar fate at the Stadio Artemi Franchi.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Jill Roord opened her account on her full debut against West Ham on Sunday having also bagged a hat trick against Spurs in pre-season. The signing of Roord was an intriguing one, with Little, Nobbs and van de Donk, the Gunners don’t lack attacking midfielders. Roord left Bayern Munich citing a lack of game time and has come to a club where, arguably, the competition is even stiffer than it is at Bayern.

However, Roord is building her case for regular inclusion and started every game she was available for during pre-season. Montemurro said that he asked Jill to play a slightly deeper role in the second half against West Ham to preserve her energy, which suggests she will definitely start again. Roord has plenty of Champions League experience with Bayern and she already has an understanding with Miedema and van de Donk developed at international level.

PREDICTED LINE-UP
1.ZINSBERGER, 20.MAIER, 16.QUINN, 5.BEATTIE, 15.McCABE, 6.WILLIAMSON, 10.LITTLE (c), 14.ROORD, 17.EVANS, 7.van de DONK, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs; 2.Veje, 3.Mitchell, 8.Nobbs, 18.Peyraud-Magnin, 22.Schnaderbeck, 23.Mead.

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME

Currently, all we know is that the game is being shown on Sky Italia- it’s a 6pm kickoff in the UK. There is some suggestion that Fiorentina will stream the game live online and on their Facebook page too.

COMING UP
We won’t have the usual post-match reaction from this match, but we will have a full preview for the trip to Manchester United on the site over the weekend, with exclusive player reaction on the site on Monday evening, as well as a short analysis piece on that game on Tuesday. The match talking points pieces are new this season and for a little flavour of how they will look, check out the piece on the West Ham game below.

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Phillip Fort
Phillip Fort

So it’s not on eurosport? I noticed that they hadn’t updated their schedule but thought maybe that was an oversight.

Stillberto
Stillberto

Not sure yet, they never confirm until the last minute. At the moment they are only promising text updates, but that may change later.

Flint
Flint

Match on Fiorentina website

Kurt Sloan
Kurt Sloan

Mead only a sub?? Is she injured or something?. I’d like to see we play two upfront on a 4-3-1-2 with Mead & Miedema upfront, vdDonk, Little, Roord, Williamson in midfield, the backline of Evans, Beattie, Quinn, Mccabe. GK is up to Joe 🙂

Gooner1
Gooner1

He’ll probably rotate a bit for the united game in midweek

Stillberto
Stillberto

Indeed. The reality is that at least one big ticket attacker is going to have to sit out a game when they’re all fit.

Fun Gunner
Fun Gunner

But what a fantastic option to have on the bench!

Chris Humphrey
Chris Humphrey

It’s all up to Joe! After Sunday’s “surprise” selections I wouldn’t be “surprised” if there were a couple more on tonight’s teams heel.

Fun Gunner
Fun Gunner

Thanks, Tim.
Cautiously optimistic for this one. We have to remember that this is a learning situation for Joe, never mind the players.