Arsenal have enjoyed a perfect start to the season, with three wins in the WSL, one in the Conti Cup and a comfortable victory over Fiorentina in the Champions League. But Joe Montemurro’s side face their first big test of the season as they travel to Emma Hayes’ Chelsea at Kingsmeadow. It was in this fixture last season that the Gunners stamped their authority on the title race with a thumping 5-0 win.
There is little to no chance of a repeat and Chelsea defeated Arsenal in the return game at Boreham Wood in the WSL, before beating an injury hit Arsenal side 3-0 at Kingsmeadow in the FA Cup in February. This will likely be a tight, nervy encounter. Chelsea dropped two points at Brighton three weeks ago, which puts them two points behind Montemurro’s side.
Just another day at the office 🤷♀️ pic.twitter.com/1H36dGM3Lq
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 29, 2019
Arsenal lost to Chelsea and Manchester City once each last season and still won the league at a canter due to their perfect record against everyone else, but these games go a long way towards deciding the destination of the championship. Arsenal’s 5-0 win last October set them on the path to glory and changed the feel around the club.
It also signalled a switch in power in the WSL, for one season at least. Another away victory on Sunday reaffirms the Gunners’ status as top dogs in the capital and indeed the country, but a draw seems a more likely result on Sunday. Arsenal have not drawn a WSL game since a shock 0-0 with Yeovil in April 2018.
Arsenal have Louise Quinn available again after a calf problem, Katrine Veje is in full training after a foot injury but is unlikely to be fit to start. Leonie Maier is a doubt due to an ankle injury. Danielle Carter (knee) and Tabea Kemme is also out with a knee injury, though has resumed light ball training again. There is no timeframe on her comeback at this stage.
No better feeling than being back out on the pitch ☺️
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) October 10, 2019
Lia Wälti played 60 minutes for Switzerland on Tuesday evening and Joe Montemurro will need to consider whether she can start two games in a week, otherwise, Leah Williamson could continue in midfield. Jordan Nobbs was on the bench for England against Portugal in midweek and is more likely to start this match as a result.
LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal won 5-0 at Kingsmeadow last October thanks to goals from Kim Little and braces from Jordan Nobbs and Vivianne Miedema. However, the Blues won 2-1 at Boreham Wood in January with two goals from Erin Cuthbert- a late Vivianne Miedema goal was not enough to salvage any points for Arsenal. The teams last met in February in the FA Cup when Chelsea beat the Gunners 3-0 at Kingsmeadow.
The last time we faced Chelsea in the @FAWSL, we ran out 5-0 winners at Kingsmeadow…
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 13, 2019
PLAYER TO WATCH
Vivianne Miedema had a slow start to the season by her exalted standards, having reached the World Cup Final with her country, she came into the season with a tight hamstring. In recent games, you can see her coming back to her usual level, culminating in an outstanding performance against Brighton that saw her score one and assist two other goals with excellent through balls.
⭐ A star of the game: @VivianneMiedema
Besides scoring once, Vivianne played in the ball for both Kim Little and Daniëlle van de Donk to score. Jordan Nobbs also got the ball from her for her goal.
Her work on and off the ball create spaces and chances for others to utilize. pic.twitter.com/rgXCp7sanF
— WSLStats.org (@wslstats) October 3, 2019
Miedema is far more than just a finisher, she moves away from the frontline to allow the Gunners fleet of attacking midfielders to make runs in behind the defence into the space she vacates. Viv also scored in both games for her country during the international break. Chelsea centre-half Mille Bright is a doubt for Chelsea, whoever the Blues play in defence, shackling Miedema will be key to their defensive game plan.
1.ZINSBERGER, 17.EVANS, 5.BEATTIE, 16.QUINN, 15.McCABE, 6.WILLIAMSON, 10.LITTLE (c), 14.ROORD, 7.VAN DE DONK, 23.MEAD, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs; 2.Veje, 3.Mitchell, 8.Nobbs, 13.Wälti, 18.Peyraud-Magnin, 22.Schnaderbeck, 26.Grant.
Chelsea started the season slowly again, with Emma Hayes making some tactical tweaks to her side. Fran Kirby has continued to be dogged by hamstring injuries, while Ramona Bachmann has fallen out of favour. The Blues used to play with a totally fluid front four based on interchange of positions, but now they operate with a more direct, orthodox front three.
Erin Cuthbert raids the flank, with Bethany England occupying opposing centre-halves. Guro Reiten has settled into life quickly in a wide role and Arsenal’s full-backs will have their work cut out with both. I fancy Louise Quinn will start to handle the more physical, bustling presence of Beth England upfront, who is especially imposing in the air.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 3pm on Sunday at Kingsmeadow Stadium, Kingsmeadow, Kingston Road, Kington Upon Thames, KT1 3PB. Tickets are £9 for adults and £1 concessions and can be bought here or on the gate.
In the UK, the game is being televised live on BT Sport. If you are outside of the UK, you can catch it for free by downloading the FA Player app. Viewers in Central America can watch on Sky Mexico, whilst those in Scandinavia can watch on NENT.
The FA Player is here! 🎉
Sign up and download the app now 👇
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) September 2, 2019
We will have the usual post-match reaction from an Arsenal player on the site on Sunday evening, as well as a match preview for Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Slavia Praha in Czech Republic, we’ll also have exclusive player reaction from that game on the site on Wednesday evening.