Friday, March 1, 2024

Manchester United Women v Arsenal Preview

Arsenal travel to Leigh for a third game in eight days having collected three points on the opening day against West Ham and comfortably beaten Fiorentina in the Champions League in Florence. Joe Montemurro’s side will play the weekend’s final fixture with Chelsea and Manchester City playing their fixtures on Sunday and both teams will look on hoping for the holders to drop points.

As is his wont, Montemurro adopted slightly different formations in the victories over West Ham and Fiorentina, but it remains to be seen how he will shuffle his pack for the visit to Casey Stoney’s WSL Championship winners. Though newly promoted, United will easily establish themselves as a WSL side this season and while they are probably a season or two away from being able to compete with Arsenal, Chelsea and City, they will compete with every team, as they showed in their narrow defeat to their Manchester rivals on the opening weekend.

The Gunners ought to be able to rotate for their proceeding fixtures at London City Lionesses in the Conti Cup and the second leg of their Champions League tie against Fiorentina, against whom they will carry a 4-0 advantage. All of the Gunners’ resources will go into this mouth watering tie against United and that is a respect Casey Stoney’s side is due. They also have not played a midweek fixture as Arsenal have.

Arsenal will be without Katrine Veje (ankle), Danielle Carter (knee) and Tabea Kemme (knee). Lia Walti has returned to full training having missed the last eight months with a knee problem, but this match will come a little too early for her. Vivianne Miedema was spared the final half an hour in Florence with a generous lead and having come into the season with a tight hamstring. She will again be fit. Joe Montemurro may consider shuffling his pack, with Emma Mitchell and Louise Quinn only used as substitutes so far this season.

The teams met in the Conti Cup semi-finals in February and the Gunners had Vivianne Miedema to thank as her double fired Arsenal to a 2-1 victory at Meadow Park. This is the first top flight fixture between the teams with United only having formed their women’s team in 2018. Highlights are available here.

United were promoted last season after making the decision to begin their existence in the second tier. The idea is for the team to build slowly before challenging the hegemony of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea. In Casey Stoney they have one of the brightest young managerial prospects in the women’s game after a stellar career as a centre half.

They have added a sprinkle of quality since promotion, most notably through Dutch midfielder Jackie Groenen, who will be well known to her international teammates Vivianne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord. United produced a gutsy defensive display against City and with strikers like Jess Sigsworth and Jane Ross, they have the quality to punish teams on the break.

They signed England centre-half Abbie McManus from City this summer and also procured England goalkeeper Mary Earps from Wolfsburg, so they will be a tough nut to crack defensively, as City found out on the opening weekend. Last season’s runners up required an outstanding long range strike from Caroline Weir to pierce their defence. Arsenal will have to be patient and wary on Monday.

After an excellent opening day performance against West Ham, a game in which she was heavily involved with both goals, Lisa Evans helped herself to her first goal of the season against Fiorentina on Thursday night. The Scot is one of the most under appreciated players in the WSL, her raids down the right are a constant threat to opponents.

United strengthened during the summer, but they did lose their captain and left-back Alex Greenwood to European champions Lyon this summer. They have replaced her with Swedish international Lotta Okvist, who will be charged with keeping the Gunners right hand side of Leonie Maier and Lisa Evans quiet.

1.ZINSBERGER, 20.MAIER, 16.QUINN, 5.BEATTIE, 3.MITCHELL, 6.WILLIAMSON, 7.VAN DE DONK, 10.LITTLE (c), 17.EVANS, 23.MEAD, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs: 8.Nobbs, 14.Roord, 15.McCabe, 18.Peyraud-Magnin, 22.Schnaderbeck, 26.Grant, 27.Filis.

The game will be screened live on BT Sport in the UK with a 7.30pm kickoff. People outside of the UK can watch it on the FA Player app for free, unless you are in Scandinavia or Central America, in which case the game will be live on NENT and Sky Mexico respectively.

We will have exclusive player reaction on the site on Monday evening, as well as a short analysis piece on the game, which will go up on Tuesday morning. We’ll also have the usual flourishes for Sunday’s Conti Cup game away at Millwall. Assuming you’re remotely interested, I will be on the women’s football show on Talksport 2 on Monday at 6pm previewing the game too.

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Chris Humphrey

I’ve a feeling that the big “rotation” will be next Sunday against Millwall (oops London City!) and the only change tomorrow, if she were fit, would have been Kat Veje in the left channel. As with your praise of Lisa on the right Tim, I think that Kat goes very much “under the radar” down our left. Her absence against the ‘Ammers was particularly noticeable.
Incidentally, her “ankle injury”. Any specifics?

Peter Story Teller

Agreed we will need a strong team tomorrow. United are no mugs even if this is their first WSL season.

Fun Gunner

Thanks, Tim. I see Chelsea drew, yay! Tough game, this one.

Do you think Jordan might start? It will be that sort of game. Still too soon?

Peter Story Teller

Yeah and they only managed to equalise in stoppage time!

Fun Gunner

Like last season, they create chances but can’t finish. Hopefully will continue. City, on the other hand, look ominously efficient.


I still think it’ll be too early for Jordan. I think she might start v Lionesses or Fiorentina.

Fun Gunner

Fair enough. More important to manage her rehab properly.

Much Edu

Anyone else had no luck signing up to the FA Player? I’ve tried about 8 times and it always comes up with an error.

Peter Story Teller

Didn’t have a problem. What is the eroor saying?

Peter Story Teller


Fun Gunner

I’ve signed up without a problem but it doesn’t work on my tablet and is flaky at best on my phone. Stutters, stops working a couple of times a match.

Peter Story Teller

Not had any issues but I’m using a fast PC with wired ethernet broadband. Suspect it might be different if you try using a phone signal.

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