Arsenal v Manchester City Women Preview

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THE LOWDOWN
If the weather gods allow, Arsenal will face Manchester City at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon in a crunch game in the race for Champions League qualification. The Gunners sit four points behind City in 3rd with a game in hand. Victory here puts qualification in their hands, a defeat means City firmly grip the baton.

It’s a huge game for Arsenal and for Joe Montemurro, whose team have not beaten City, Chelsea or United in their last five attempts since defeating tomorrow’s opponents in last season’s Conti Cup semi-final last January. They do have a good home record against City, however, winning each of their last four fixtures against them at Meadow Park.

However, those victories were over Nick Cushing’s City team who were always ultra defensive and cautious at Meadow Park. Gareth Taylor’s side have played three times since Arsenal’s last game and have scored 22 times across four games in January. They are in good form and have a lot more match rhythm than Arsenal.

There is still an excellent chance, I am afraid, of this game becoming a third consecutive postponement for Arsenal with heavy snow forecast overnight in Hertfordshire. I am told there might have been a decision made on Saturday but everyone wants to give the game the best chance to go ahead. I am also told that hosting the game at the Emirates was considered earlier this week but proved not to be viable due to covid protocols.

TEAM NEWS
Steph Catley (hamstring) and Viki Schnaderbeck (knee) are still absent for Arsenal. Joe Montemurro told me on Friday that they were also “assessing a couple of players” too but was tight lipped on who they were. 17-year old Ruby Mace won’t be part of the squad as she has joined Birmingham City on loan for the rest of the season.

LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal defeated Manchester City 2-1 in the Conti Cup semi-final last January thanks to first half goals from Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk. When the clubs met at Meadow Park in the league last season, a first half Vivianne Miedema strike settled the game in the Gunners’ favour.

Arsenal Women 1-0 Manchester City | Women’s Super League highlights – YouTube

THE OPPOSITION
After a slow start to the season, City have hit their stride in recent weeks, winning their last five WSL games. They drew at Manchester United after leading 2-0 and lost to Chelsea at Kingsmeadow so their record in the big away games has not been outstanding. However, their attacking trident of Ellen White supported by Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp, Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir has blown teams away in recent weeks.

In Abby Dahlkemper they have added a genuinely world class centre-half to their squad this month too. Gareth Taylor reports that Sam Mewis, who has scored twice against Arsenal this season, and Demi Stokes are still very doubtful for this fixture. However, Janine Beckie, Esme Morgan and Jess Park all return from injury.

On Vivianne Miedema, Gareth Taylor said, “Of course, she is a top player. She has proven that over the years. She is a player who has been earmarked to be dangerous against us but they have got a number of good players. We need to be ready for that and make sure we impose our game on the opponent. We have been fairly successful in the past few months when we have played them. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

PLAYER TO WATCH
Chloe Kelly enjoyed a breakout season for Everton last season playing on the left but often moving inside and becoming Everton’s central goal threat. She has been handed a much different role at City, on the right she is asked to hold the width on the right hand side and feed the likes of Mewis, White, Weir and Stanway and it’s a role she has performed very well, with Lucy Bronze overlapping her from full-back.

Katie McCabe will need to be on her mettle to deal with the dual threat of Kelly and Bronze and look to push them back in the opposite direction. Neither Bronze nor Kelly are the strongest defenders, for all of their attacking prowess. City coughed up goals against Arsenal and Manchester United in the WSL by overplaying at right-back. City’s right flank is a big attacking strength but it can be a defensive weakness for them too.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 7.van de Donk, 17.Evans, 18.Williams, 19.Foord, 20.Maier, 21.Gut.

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 2.30pm at Meadow Park on Sunday. In the UK, the game will be screened live on BT Sport. In the US, it will be available on the NBC Soccer app, in Canada it will be shown on Sportsnet, Optus in Australia, Atafootball in Germany and Italy, viafootball in Scandinavia and Finland, Charlton in Israel, Canal in Central America and everywhere else it will be on the FA Player app, which is free to download.

COMING UP
We will have match reaction from Joe Montemurro on the site after the game, as well as all the usual build-up and reaction to Wednesday evening’s game away at Chelsea.

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COYG. Give it all you have. I am hoping for a winter-wonderland scoreline.

tgx

The NBC Sports app will have a delayed broadcast at 2:00 PM ET — US viewers can watch the match live on atafootball.com.

ROBERT RICHMOND

We will win

Xuan

Nobbs, Kim, Beattie injured. That’s it then.

Peter Story Teller

Good job we investigated why we get so many injuries!
Just shows Joe’s conclusion was rubbish since these three occurred during training without playing a competitive match for weeks.

Falooda

Things will not improve until Joe moves on. He’s fundamentally incapable of improving this team and our slide down the table will accelerate the longer we refuse to move on from him. His methods simply don’t work. Imagine what this team could be doing with a coach like Emma or Casey.

Best I’m hoping for at this point is somehow fluking our way to the top 3 and Joe being replaced in the summer before Leah and Viv go.

Xuan

Will be a big fluke. In any case, just be braced for a long period of rebuilding and being out of contention for uwcl places again.

Falooda

Lol imagine both United AND Chelsea losing and we somehow conspire to not even be able to get out of our box in a must win game. Sums Joe up. There will be no flukes or miracle under him. Only miracle I can hope for now is for him to go before Viv/Leah do.

Goonersince55

It’s half time and I’m listening to a radio commentary. What’s interesting is how frequently – or infrequently – players’ names are mentioned. You’d hardly know we had anyone in midfield…

Goonersince55

Equaliser! And up till now R/Foord had had, I think, one mention. United losing to Reading and Chelsea behind against Brighton, maybe there’s hope!

Xuan

It is the hope that always kills you in the end. 2nd best throughout. The boost from the equaliser quickly snuffed out.

Falooda

There will never be any hope as long as Joe stays at the helm. He’s proven what he’s capable of, time for him to go so the team can actually hope to improve at this point.

Goonersince55

“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. The entrance to hell, appropriate for us Gooners this weekend.