Arsenal take on Bristol City in the Conti Cup group phase on Thursday evening at Meadow Park. The crowd and the occasion will represent a bit of a comedown from Sunday’s 2-0 North London derby win in front of 38,262 spectators. Bristol currently top the group, but Arsenal will overtake them with a win and go a long way to guaranteeing their progression to the knockout phase.
Bristol are yet to win in the WSL this season and sit second bottom of the league on 3 points. The Vixens did manage to salvage a 3-3 draw with Reading this weekend having trailed 3-1. Their priority is avoiding relegation and they may be inclined to rest some first team players- as they did in their most recent Conti Cup match against London City Lionesses.
Joe Montemurro may well be inclined to make some changes to the side too with an almost fully fit squad to choose from. Recently he has had the luxury of naming the full complement of seven substitutes which gives him plenty of options. The Gunners were held to a 0-0 draw in their last group game against Brighton and failed to secure the extra point when they lost on penalties.
Elsewhere in the group, Brighton thrashed London Bees 5-0 on Wednesday evening, while Charlton beat London City Lionesses 1-0. That means Brighton top the group with 8 points, with the Gunners and Bristol City on 7 apiece. The winner at Meadow Park will take control of the group, if the match finishes a draw after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will take place and the winner will be awarded an extra point, the loser will keep their point for the draw.
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— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) November 18, 2019
Arsenal are without Katrine Veje, who picked up a knock on her right foot on international duty (she injured the left foot earlier this season). Tabea Kemme (knee) and Danielle Carter (knee) are out, but everyone else is fit. Emma Mitchell, Louise Quinn, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin and Viki Schnaderbeck played no part against Spurs on Sunday and all are likely to start, as are Jill Roord and Leonie Maier, who came off the bench at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal defeated Bristol City 4-0 at Meadow Park in the WSL back in March thanks to a hat trick from Vivianne Miedema and a goal from Katie McCabe. The story was similar when the sides met in Bristol last season, where the Gunners racked up another 4-0 victory with a brace from Vivianne Miedema and goals from Jordan Nobbs and Danielle van de Donk.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Leonie Maier will almost certainly start the game at right-back after Lisa Evans was preferred to the German international at Spurs on Sunday. Maier has yet to rediscover the form that saw her anointed as one of the world’s great teenage prodigies at Euro 2013. Having lost her way a little at Bayern Munich, the move to Arsenal represented a much needed change of scenery.
The German is still adjusting to the physical side of the WSL and had her season interrupted by injury. Arsenal’s pass completion statistics were released prior to the Spurs game and Maier’s are hovering at 57%. Maier is a super talented full-back but Lisa Evans is virtually undroppable either as a right-winger or a right-back. Thursday is an opportunity for Maier to kickstart her Gunners career.
Known as Bristol Academy until 2016, Bristol City ought to be considered one of the WSL’s success stories. They don’t have the backing of many of their contemporaries but tend to hold their own in the top flight of women’s football. They were one of the founding members of the WSL in 2011 and following relegation in 2015, were immediately promoted back to the top-flight.
Bristol came close to the title in 2013 with the likes of Natalia Pablos and Jemma Rose- both of whom eventually moved to Arsenal. Now their ambitions are restricted to avoiding relegation under Australian Tanya Oxtoby. Goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley is one of the best ‘keepers in the division, while they also boast Arsenal academy graduate Carla Humphrey.
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— Bristol City WFC (@bristolcitywfc) November 21, 2019
18.PEYRAUD-MAGNIN, 20.MAIER, 6.WILLIAMSON, 16.QUINN, 3.MITCHELL, 22.SCHNADERBECK, 14.ROORD, 7.VAN DE DONK, 17.EVANS, 15.McCABE, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs; 1.Zinsberger, 5.Beattie, 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 13.Wälti, 23.Mead.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game is not being streamed or broadcast anywhere. However, tickets are available on the door for £10 adults and £1 for children and the match kicks off at 7.30pm at Meadow Park on Thursday evening.
We’ll have exclusive player reaction from the match on the site on Thursday evening and we’ll have match preview and reaction for the WSL game at home to Liverpool on Sunday. We’ll also have a feature interview with manager Joe Montemurro on his approach to squad management on the site in the coming weeks.