Arsenal Women take a three goal lead to Prague as they seek to seal their qualification for the Champions League group stages against Slavia at the Eden Stadium. Goals from Nikita Parris, Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema at Meadow Park last week have put the Gunners in a strong position to qualify for the group stage, that starts in October.
Spirits are high after the deadline day signing of Tobin Heath and the 3-2 victory over defending champions Chelsea in the first match of the WSL campaign on Sunday. 9,000 fans witnessed a hugely entertaining and tense game. This one is likely to have decidedly fewer thrills and spills with Arsenal fully expected to finish the job in the Czech Republic.
🅰️🅰️🅰️ in the London derby ❤️
All the unseen moments at Emirates Stadium! 🤩
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 7, 2021
After the monumental effort required to defeat Chelsea on Sunday, some rotation is virtually assured- rotation will be a feature under Jonas Eidevall who demands a high-intensity approach from his players. However, he won’t take anything for granted, in his pre-Slavia press conference, the Swede talked up Slavia’s Champions League experience and their ability to compete with big teams.
They have improved since Arsenal beat them 13-2 on aggregate in the competition two seasons ago. That said, it would be an immense shock if Arsenal were not able to finish off this tie comfortably. They certainly left goals on the pitch during the 3-0 home leg at Boreham Wood last week and they will want to make the evening as comfortable as possible for themselves.
A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“I work like this; I worry a lot about every game that we play. I don’t think anything in life is easy, especially not football. I think every game through in detail and this is no different. I am happy that we have the lead we do but I am not relaxed. We will think about this like any other game. In the first leg, Slavia were how I thought they would be, they were pretty compact, they work very hard and they are quite physical.
“They are ranked 7th or 8th I think in the UEFA rankings, Arsenal are a lot of positions below that at the moment. I know Arsenal won big on aggregate when the teams last played but if you look at the last five years, Slavia have produced a lot of big results. They’ve drawn against Bayern Munich, they have drawn with Lyon. They are not a bad team at all.”
Arsenal will be without Jordan Nobbs (ankle), Jordan told Sky Sports on Sunday that she had started to jog again and expects to be back in four weeks or so (I suspect “back” means in full training). Caitlin Foord missed Sunday’s match with a tight quad muscle and will be checked ahead of this game, while Malin Gut (ACL) and Viki Schnaderbeck (knee) are certainly out and Noelle Maritz serves a one-match suspension.
Simone Boye recently pulled out of the Denmark squad with an injury so is also unlikely available for this game. Jen Beattie and Beth Mead went off with cramp on Sunday and could also be rotated with a league game away at Reading on Sunday. Tobin Heath is still not in the UK and is unlikely to play this side of the September international break.
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Williams, 28.Cull
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 29.Goldie
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 14.Parris, 15.McCabe
LAST TIME OUT
The Gunners won the first leg 3-0 at Meadow Park last weekend. When the teams met in Prague in October 2019, the Gunners ran out 5-2 winners thanks to four goals from Vivianne Miedema and a Kim Little penalty. Kim has scored a penalty in each of the three games she has played against Slavia so far.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Katie McCabe and Noelle Maritz are the only outfield players with more minutes than Frida Maanum so far this season. The 22-year-old Norwegian midfielder has shown an impressive level of tactical awareness, playing as a six in the qualifiers against Okzhetpes and PSV Eindhoven and then lining up behind Katie McCabe almost as an auxiliary style left-back position to help Arsenal overload the left flank against Chelsea.
It’s impressive for a new player, and a young one at that, to show such an array of tactical disciplines in her first games for the club. It also shows the extent to which Jonas Eidevall trusts Maanum. She has shown in her opening games a real willingness to shoot from range and it feels like a matter of time before one of those shots nestles into the top corner.
Subs: 5.Beattie, 9.Mead, 10.Little, 18.Williams, 28.Cull, 29.Goldie.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 5.30pm UK time and will be streamed live on Arsenal.com.
Good news, Gooners…
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 9, 2021
We will have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Thursday evening, as well as all the usual build-up and reaction to Sunday’s game at Reading. For extra reading and listening, we have an article about the signing of Tobin Heath and how it signals a change of policy for Arsenal here.