Arsenal travel to Reading on Sunday following a successful evening in Prague on Thursday as they confirmed their passage to the inaugural Women’s Champions League group stage. The WSL match at the Select Car Leasing Stadium (?) brings the curtain down on a period of six games in three weeks with Champions League qualifying kicking the season off early for Jonas Eidevall’s side.
The Gunners have won all five of their matches under Eidevall’s charge so far, the most impressive of which was a pulsating 3-2 victory over Chelsea at Emirates Stadium last Sunday. After the high of last Sunday and the relief of qualifying for the Champions League group stages, this game represents a more bread and butter affair for the visitors but it’s no less important as a result.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 9, 2021
This fixture last season marked probably the low point of the season for Arsenal, as they stumbled to a 1-1 draw at the Madejski in the wake of some covid cases in the camp and the revelation that some players had travelled to Dubai for a winter break. On that day, a clearly undercooked and unhappy looking Arsenal team stumbled in a manner that dented their Champions League qualification hopes.
Fast forward eight months and there is a new coach and a new feeling of optimism around the club but that will soon evaporate if Arsenal do not come away from Berkshire with three points ahead of the September international break. Beating Chelsea has given Arsenal a great launchpad for the season but with Manchester City on the horizon in a fortnight’s time, nothing can be taken for granted in this game.
Arsenal are without Jordan Nobbs (ankle), Simone Boye (knee), Malin Gut (ACL) and Viki Schnaderbeck (knee) for the trip to the Madejski Stadium. Caitlin Foord’s tight quad muscle will be checked on. Noelle Maritz returns after serving a one-match suspension in the Champions League against Slavia on Thursday. Tobin Heath won’t join up with the team before the September international break.
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Williams, 28.Cull
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 29.Goldie
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 14.Parris, 15.McCabe, 19.Foord
LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met in January 2021, Reading moved into an early lead thanks to a 5th minute goal from Laure Bruton. Vivianne Miedema levelled the scores just before half-time but Arsenal couldn’t find a winner in the second half.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Beth Mead has started the season in fine form with three goals and four assists in the first five games. The signings of Nikita Parris and Tobin Heath have put pressure on Beth’s place, though Jonas Eidevall is keen to emphasise that he will need to rotate, especially in the wide forward positions where he asks so much of his players.
Beth has been principally a creator in recent seasons with her crossing and her ability to create transitions with her interceptions high up the pitch. Her double against Chelsea last Sunday was a match winning contribution and her assist for Miedema’s opening goal in Prague was an outstanding piece of play. Beth has started the season in fine fettle and won her England place back in the process.
Subs: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 9.Mead, 18.Williams, 19.Foord, 23.Iwabuchi, 28.Cull.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game takes place at Reading’s Select Car Leasing Stadium on Sunday at 2pm. You can buy tickets here for £10 adults and £3 concessions and tickets will also be available on the day. Otherwise the game is being shown live on the FA Player app, which is free to download.
We’ll have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday afternoon and after that, we will record a new episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast during the international break.