Arsenal Women are back in Champions League action on Wednesday evening with a trip to the Czech Republic to play Slavia Praha. Joe Montemurro was furious after Sunday’s damaging 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, lamenting that his side, “didn’t play well and couldn’t keep the ball.” His Gunners side will want to get straight back on the horse in Prague.
In the wake of Sunday’s game, Lisa Evans told Arsenal.com, “As a player there’s nothing better than having a game so soon after a game like [Sunday’s].” Montemurro’s side probably got the most generous draw possible in the round of 16 and they will be hot favourites to progress. With the second leg immediately following a must win WSL game with Manchester City, they will want the deed done in the first leg.
There's only one way to react…
Get back to winning ways 💪 pic.twitter.com/RVpGl4fwEC
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) October 14, 2019
There are unlikely to be sweeping changes for the match because Arsenal’s squad is not really staffed for it, but there is the option of returning Jordan Nobbs to the starting line-up, while either one of Emma Mitchell and Katrine Veje might have their eye on left-back. The Gunners lacked natural width at Kingsmeadow and played in congested areas, playing with a little more width could be an attractive option for Joe Montemurro.
Leonie Maier will be checked after missing the Chelsea game and the most recent international fixtures for Germany. Katrine Veje was an unused substitute on Sunday after returning from a foot injury. Viki Schnaderbeck was not in the squad, but, in truth, I didn’t find out why! Lia Wälti is unlikely to start having played 60 minutes in Switzerland and Arsenal’s most recent games.
Jordan Nobbs may well come back in however after starting on the bench on Sunday. Danielle Carter (knee) and Tabea Kemme (knee) are out, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin may be reinstated in goal after Manuela Zinsberger’s error for Chelsea’s winning goal this weekend.
LAST TIME OUT
These two teams have never met, but Slavia warmed up for this encounter by thrashing Dukla 13-0 in the Czech Liga Women. Slavia have won all 7 of their opening games and currently boast a goal difference of +52. They also thumped Hibernian 9-2 on aggregate in the round of 32. Arsenal will present them with a stiffer challenge compared to what they are used to. Arsenal, meanwhile, qualified from the round of 32 with a 6-0 aggregate victory over Fiorentina.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Danielle van de Donk has recently been played on the right-hand side of the attack but with plenty of license to drift in-field. We saw the best and worst of such a tactic against Chelsea. On 9 minutes, she ghosted into the penalty area to pick up a Miedema through ball and smash the ball into the bottom corner to give the Gunners the lead.
daniëlle van de donk’s goal pic.twitter.com/T8pKzHzd34
— jr 👻 (@yoursdaly) October 13, 2019
Yet van de Donk’s brief was to drift inside and often, this meant that Arsenal were constantly funnelling the ball into central areas and into Chelsea pressure. With Nobbs returning, Jill Roord and joining and Kim Little in good form, van de Donk has not been able to play in her favoured number 10 position yet this campaign.
18.PEYRAUD-MAGNIN, 17.EVANS, 5.BEATTIE, 6.WILLIAMSON, 2.VEJE, 14.ROORD, 8.NOBBS, 10.LITTLE (c), 15.McCABE, 23.MEAD, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs: 1.Zinsberger, 3.Mitchell, 7.van de Donk, 13.Wälti, 16.Quinn, 26.Grant, 27.Filis.
Runners-up in the last two editions of the Czech Liga Women, Slavia look serious about regaining the title they won on four consecutive occasions between 2014 and 2017. The squad has a heavily domestic feel, comprised of mainly Czech players, with the exception of Swedish midfielder Mia Persson, Jamaican left-back Deneisha Blackwood and Canadian defender Kylla Sjoman.
Slávisti, pojďme zaplnit Eden na ženskou ligu mistrů!!! Holky si vaší podporu zaslouží a proti @ArsenalWFC ji budou potřebovat! @TRIBUNA_SEVER @odborpratel @FanklubSKS @slaviaofficial pic.twitter.com/fhZU4E69YV
— SK Slavia Praha ženy (@SlaviaZeny) October 13, 2019
Slavia are coached by Michal Kolomazník who was only appointed in the summer after coaching fellow Czech Liga Women side Dupla. Slavia have been to three Champions League quarter-finals, where they have been beaten heavily by Lyon (2016), Wolfsburg (2018) and Bayern Munich (2019). Manuela Zinsberger and Jill Roord played in both of those ties, with Roord on the score sheet in the second leg in Germany.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
Coverage of Champions League games tends not to be announced until around 24 hours before kickoff- sometimes sooner. There are no details other than the fact that the game will be shown on Czech television as yet.
We will have exclusive player reaction from the game on site on Wednesday evening, as well as a transcript of Joe Montemurro’s post-match press conference. There will be the usual match preview for the Charlton match on site on Friday afternoon and we will have exclusive player reaction on the site from that one on Sunday evening.