Arsenal take on Reading at Boreham Wood in the quarter-finals of the Conti Cup on Wednesday evening. The Gunners have a peerless record in the competition, even if they did lose last season’s final to Manchester City on penalties. Joe Montemurro’s charges have a monumental home fixture against Chelsea on Sunday but must put that to the back of their minds for the visit of Kelly Chambers’ Royals side.
The last time the teams met in this competition two seasons ago, Fara Williams scored directly from centre as the visitors snatched a 2-1 victory. It’s a swift turnaround for the victors too, with the semi-finals to be played in two weeks’ time. It is a make or break week in the season for Arsenal and they warmed up for it nicely with a good performance and a 4-0 win over Brighton on Sunday.
? Our 2019/20 season so far…
1️⃣6️⃣ clean sheets
And we're only just getting started ? pic.twitter.com/HC7vwLOdG1
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 12, 2020
They will need to use their squad for this period of games and the likes of Leonie Maier, Katie McCabe and Beth Mead were spared from the starting line-up on Sunday, while the return from injury of Jen Beattie and Katrine Veje was put off for another game with mind given to the dry, bumpy surface at Brighton’s home ground in Crawley.
Should Arsenal get through, it’s likely that one of Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea will await in the semi-finals. The Conti Cup is the first piece of silverware of the season and Montemurro has not been minded to rotate his tight squad heavily for the competition in the group stages. There are no guarantees against a good Reading side, but don’t expect Arsenal to take this one lightly either.
Jennifer Beattie will undergo a fitness test on a calf problem ahead of this game, while Katrine Veje is not far from a return after a foot injury. Beth Mead played her first minutes of the year after a badly bruised leg, but Danielle Carter [knee] is out. Tabea Kemme has taken the decision to retire due to persistent knee injuries.
Sadly inevitable. Tabea has a career in the police force in Potsdam- she took a 2-year leave of absence to join Arsenal in 2018. Sad it hasn’t worked out, she’s a terrific player. https://t.co/ctimgVA73p
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) January 14, 2020
Pauline Peyraud-Magnin is likely to start in goal as she usually does for cup matches. The U-21s have a fixture, so Ruby Grant and Mel Filis are unlikely to be available. Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little are both in line to make their 200th Arsenal appearances.
LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal beat Reading 3-0 away from home in the WSL in December, thanks to a brace from Vivianne Miedema and a wonder goal from Kim Little. The last meeting of the teams at Meadow Park occurred last September saw Arsenal win 6-0 thanks to a Vivianne Miedema hat-trick as well as goals from Jordan Nobbs, Beth Mead and Danielle van de Donk.
The teams have previous in this competition too. The teams met at the quarter-final stage in 2018 with Arsenal winning a yo-yo encounter 3-2- Arsenal were 2-1 down with ten minutes remaining, goals from Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Nobbs gave Arsenal a last gasp victory.
Reading moved up to 4th in the WSL with a 1-0 victory over Birmingham City on Sunday. A statistical curiosity ahead of this match is that Reading average a goal a game from setpieces in the WSL, thanks largely to the peerless delivery of Fara Williams. Arsenal, on the other hand, have yet to concede a goal from a setpiece this season.
The Royals ordinarily play in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Fara Williams playing just off Brooke Chaplen upfront. Remy Allen and Amelie Eikeland provide powerful off-the ball running to support Chaplen too, while Fara, who averages over 4 shots per game in the WSL, likes to test goalkeepers from range.
?️ Reading FC Women are pleased to announce that @fara_williams47 has added an additional year to her contract, keeping her with the club until June 2021.
Read the full story ⬇️
— Reading FC Women (@ReadingFCWomen) January 13, 2020
Reading’s squad possesses several former Arsenal players, in the shape of Fara Williams, Molly Bartip, Angharad James, Lauren Bruton and Jo Potter, while back-up goalkeeper Rachael Laws had an unsuccessful trial with Arsenal two summers ago prior to the purchase of Anna Moorhouse.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Leah Williamson has provided three assists in her last two matches. Both of her defence splitting passes against Brighton on Sunday emphasised her developing sense of creativity. Leah has always been a punchy, line-breaking passer- so much so that teams had started to detail their strikers to mark her.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 6, 2020
Playing on the right side of the defence, Leah has been able to shift over 10-15 yards towards the touchline in recent games and really get some whip into her long passes. Her assists for Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord on Sunday both had an element of cross-field about them. However, her assist for Jordan Nobbs was a delicate curved pass with her instep. Leah is one of the team’s principle creative forces when it comes to starting attacks.
18.PEYRAUD-MAGNIN, 20.MAIER, 6.WILLIAMSON, 22.SCHNADERBECK, 15.McCABE, 13.WALTI, 8.NOBBS, 10.LITTLE[c], 23.MEAD, 7.VAN DE DONK, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs; 1.Zinsberger, 5.Beattie, 14.Roord, 16.Quinn, 17.Evans.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game will take place at Meadow Park on Wednesday evening at 7.30pm, tickets will be available on the gate and will cost £10 adults, £1 kids, £6 other concessions. There will be no broadcast or stream for this match.
We will have exclusive player reaction to the game on the site on Wednesday evening, as well as the build-up and reaction to Sunday’s game at Chelsea. We also have some bonus content prepared once Kim and Jordan reach their 200th Arsenal appearances.