Arsenal have enjoyed the luxury of a seven-day break to recharge ahead of a WSL game at home to Bristol City at Meadow Park on Sunday. The Gunners thrashed The Vixens 7-0 at Boreham Wood last week in the Conti Cup and they will be looking for a similar result this time around. Only a point separates Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea at the top of the WSL.
However, Chelsea and City have created a gap in goal difference to the Gunners, who haven’t conceded in seven games now. But while they have only racked up three in consecutive victories against Spurs and Liverpool, City have scored 10 in their last two games, while Chelsea hit Birmingham for six last weekend. Chelsea have +15 goal difference, City +16 while Arsenal sit on +9.
#BarclaysFAWSL Arsenal's goal scorers stats after 7⃣ games compared to last season:
2018/19: GF34 GA4 | GD +30
2019/20: GF12 GA3 | GD +9
2018/19: GF3 GA5 | GD -2
2019/20: GF18 GA3 | GD +15
2018/19: GF23 GA6 | GD +17
2019/20: GF17 GA1 | GD +16 pic.twitter.com/OYahLxgigp
— miedemastuff ⚽️ (@miedemastuff) November 24, 2019
Despite their position at the bottom of the table, Liverpool don’t concede many- they have been defeated six times and drawn once this season but only have a goal difference of -7. The scenario is quite different for Bristol City however, who have shipped 17 in the league this campaign, more than any other side. Arsenal did just beat them 7-0 after all.
The first priority for Montemurro’s side is to take the three points, obviously. But with margins at the top of the table very tight, they will want to make up some of that goal difference gap. Chelsea travel to in-form Everton on Sunday, while City play at home to Liverpool. Next weekend Chelsea and City play one another at Kingsmeadow.
Katie McCabe will have a late fitness check after coming off at half-time against Liverpool with a small ankle issue. “She was feeling her ankle,” Joe Montemurro said post-match. “She just over stretched the inside part of her ankle and she couldn’t get any power so we decided it wasn’t worth risking so we took her off.”
Katie was moving freely immediately after the match. Katrine Veje (foot) and Emma Mitchell are also doubtful, meaning Leonie Maier could again be asked to play at left-back. Tabea Kemme and Danielle Carter have long-term knee injuries. The academy team do not have a fixture this weekend, so Ruby Grant and Mel Filis are available.
LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal trounced Bristol 7-0 in the Conti Cup just over a week ago thanks to braces from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema and goals from Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs and Jen Beattie. In the corresponding WSL fixture in March, the Gunners won 4-0 with Vivianne Miedema helping herself to a hat-trick and a goal from Katie McCabe.
Bristol City manager Tanya Oxtoby was fairly unapologetic following the 7-0 defeat in the Conti Cup, telling Sophie Lawson, “For us, our focus is the league and we make no apologies for that, given where we are, we’re battling, and we need to make sure that’s our priority.
— womensfootball (@ukwomenfootball) November 24, 2019
“When you play teams like this, you have to limit the spaces that they’re allowed to play in and for us we didn’t want them to come through the middle so for us that means we have to be compact and concede some space in wide areas.” Joe Montemurro inverted his full-backs in the Conti Cup game, asking Leonie Maier and Viki Schnaderbeck to move in-field to create more space. It remains to be seen what Joe’s plan will be on this occasion.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Arsenal started with Lia Wälti on the bench against Liverpool and though Jill Roord had probably her best performance in an Arsenal shirt in her place, the overall midfield structure probably lacked a little. Wälti drives Arsenal forward with line breaking passes and her ability to wriggle free of pressure. She is constantly ready to restart moves from the middle third when the Gunners are probing.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) November 19, 2019
The Gunners missed this option against Liverpool and were too often forced back to their centre-halves, who were in turn pushed into passing back to Manuel Zinsberger in the Arsenal goal. Wälti gives the centre-halves the next passing option and the Swiss always finds an angle to pass forwards. Her re-introduction will be welcome for Montemurro’s side on Sunday.
18.PEYRAUD-MAGNIN, 17.EVANS, 6.WILLIAMSON, 5.BEATTIE, 20.MAIER, 13.WALTI, 14.ROORD, 10.LITTLE (c), 7.VAN DE DONK, 23.MEAD, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs; 1.Zinsberger, 2.Veje, 8.Nobbs, 16.Quinn, 22.Schnaderbeck, 26.Grant, 27.Filis.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 12.30pm on Sunday at Meadow Park and tickets are available on the door priced at £10 adults and £5 concessions. If you can’t make it and you are based in the UK, the game will be screened live on the BBC Red Button and BBC Online. Everywhere else, you can watch it for free on the FA Player app, totally un-geoblocked.
It's @BarclaysFAWSL matchday, and we can't wait for you to join us!
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) September 7, 2019
We will have exclusive player reaction from the match on the site on Sunday afternoon. We will also have all of the usual build-up and match reaction to next Sunday’s WSL game away at Reading. If you missed it earlier in the week, I sat down with coach Joe Montemurro to ask him about his approach to squad-building and why he prefers to work with a small roster. The link for that piece is below.
https://t.co/1mfQejKQ0K "I like working with smaller squads because you can give greater care to players & develop them into your style and your plan for the team." I spoke to @ArsenalWFC manager @MontemurroJoe on his tactical vision and why he prefers to work with a small squad.
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) November 26, 2019