Arsenal travel to Manchester City on Sunday, at a ground where they haven’t won since May 2016. In fact, they haven’t so much as taken a point in that time either. With City four points behind the Gunners in the WSL table, Montemurro’s side have an opportunity to put real distance between them and City- but City also have the opportunity to close the gap.
Arsenal currently sit second in the table a point behind Manchester United and two points above Chelsea in third, who do have a game in hand. In short, for both their title chances and their Champions League qualification chances, avoiding defeat at the least is vital for Arsenal, who have bad memories from their September FA Cup semi-final defeat to City at the Academy Stadium.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) December 10, 2020
Joe Montemurro told Arseblog News on Thursday that he is expecting a slightly different City side to the one that vanquished the Gunners’ FA Cup bid in September, “We’ve assessed a couple of different things that City are doing- their setup is a little different compared to the start of the year, so we’ve really focused tactically on that.”
Uncannily, the home side pretty much always comes out on top when these teams meet- that has been the case on the last nine occasions they’ve played one another. Arsenal’s last trip to Manchester five weeks ago ended in a disappointing and deserved defeat to Manchester United- they need to buck that trend on Sunday.
Lia Wälti is doubtful having still not fully recovered from a head injury sustained on international duty almost a fortnight ago. Noelle Maritz and Viki Schnaderbeck (both knee) are Arsenal’s only other absentees for this game.
LAST TIME OUT
City ran out 2-1 winners when the teams met in September in (confusingly) last season’s FA Cup semi-final. When the sides met in the league in February, goals from Pauline Bremer and Lauren Hemp gave the home side a 2-0 lead. Danielle van de Donk halved the deficit in the second half to set up a grandstand finish but Arsenal missed a host of chances to equalise.
City had a slow start to the WSL season with new manager Gareth Taylor. With a host of new signings like Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Chloe Kelly, Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood, it took them a while to settle the side tactically. Yet they have still won the FA Cup and beat Everton 3-0 away from home last weekend.
They also travelled to Sweden in midweek for their Champions League round of 32 tie first leg, which they won 2-1. “It will be a good game,” said City boss Gareth Taylor. “We’re in amongst it (in the title race) and three points would be a big push for us. We want momentum. We’ve had two wins and we’re pleased with that.”
— Man City Women (@ManCityWomen) December 9, 2020
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jill Roord continued her fine goal scoring form in the 3-0 win over Birmingham with a delightful chipped goal, her seventh of the season in the WSL. Her power and ability to protect the ball will be crucial against a strong Manchester City midfield likely to feature the talents of Keira Walsh, Caroline Weir and Sam Mewis.
Roord is tidy in possession and able to fend off opponents and those attributes will need to be fully tuned against a City side who will again look to utilise the power of Sam Mewis in midfield. With Lia Walti likely to be missing, Roord’s physical presence, especially in deeper areas, will be key- it would be nice if she could continue her goal scoring streak too!
Subs: 1.Zinsberger, 3.Wubben-Moy, 7.van de Donk, 8.Nobbs, 12.Catley, 19.Foord, 30.Mace.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game will be played behind closed doors at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium on Sunday at 2.30pm. In the UK the match will be televised on BT Sport 1, while it will be broadcast on Optus in Australia, NENT in Scandinavia and Finland, Sky Mexico in Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic, streamed live on DAZN in Germany and Italy, Sportsnet in Canada and Atafootball.com in the US. Everywhere else, it will be streamed live on the FA Player free of charge.
We will have match reaction from Joe Montemurro on the site on Sunday evening after the game, next week we will also have an exclusive interview with Katie McCabe who will reach 100 Arsenal appearances should she play on Sunday.