After thrashing Manchester City 5-0 last Sunday and Sp*rs 5-1 in the FA Cup on Wednesday, Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal team arrive at Villa Park on Saturday on a high but with another really tough week ahead. A Saturday tea-time engagement with Carla Ward’s improving Aston Villa side will be followed by a daunting trip to Barcelona in the Champions League group stages on Tuesday.
The Gunners have made a perfect start to life under the new coach with four wins in Champions League qualifiers, one FA Cup win and three WSL victories, with Chelsea and Manchester City among the teams they have conquered. Villa will be another tough assignment as Arsenal look to rotate their options with two big games ahead.
https://t.co/Qw4etyRNYv New! I spoke to Arsenal coach Jonas Eidevall about how he and his staff prepare opponent analysis in a condensed schedule.
"I need to have two games in my head at once, the analysts need to have more than two, the players only need to think about one."
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) October 1, 2021
Villa will set their stall out to try to frustrate Arsenal in a deep defensive block, as they managed the last time the teams met in May when the Villains escaped relegation with a goalless draw at Meadow Park. On that occasion, the Gunners had already qualified for the Champions League while Villa were fighting to stay in the league.
This time around, Arsenal are top of the table and Aston Villa are in third and have made an unbeaten start to their WSL campaign. That said, they have yet to play any of last season’s top five as yet. Eidevall will want to keep his team focused on the assignment at hand with a glamorous tie against the defending European champions on the horizon next week.
Jen Beattie returns to the squad after being rested for Wednesday night’s 5-1 mauling of Sp*rs in the FA Cup. Jonas Eidevall told Arseblog News in his pre-match press conference, “It was a luxury for us to be able to rest her and plan her week so she could train instead of being loaded with game time so she would be in a better place for the games against Villa and Barcelona.”
Simone Boye Sorensen is out with a knee injury, as is Swiss midfielder Malin Gut. Arseblog News asked Jonas Eidevall for an update on the situation with Malin who, Arseblog News understands, was close to leaving the club last summer prior to picking up her ACL injury in May. “Malin and I haven’t had any communication yet, she has been in Switzerland recovering from her injury and that was the plan. So nothing has changed yet.”
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Williams, 28.Cull
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 4.Patten, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 22.Schnaderbeck, 29.Goldie
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 14.Parris, 15.McCabe, 19.Foord, 77.Heath
A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“They (Villa) are very organised, very well structured, they have a very good long kick from the goalkeeper, they have a calm and composed defender in Anita Asante who I had the pleasure of coaching in Sweden. It will be really nice to see her, she’s a really elegant player and I also used her as a central defender a lot.
“They have a lot of good players, like Emily Gielnik, I have seen a lot of her because she used to play in Sweden also. She is a class striker and they have a lot of pace going forward with players like Alisha Lehmann for example, she is very quick. I expect a team that will be very organised and will defend very well across the pitch.”
LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met at the Bescot Stadium in February, Arsenal ran out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Vivianne Miedema, Jordan Nobbs, Katie McCabe and Lisa Evans. The last time the teams met however, was at Boreham Wood in May and Villa scrapped out a goalless draw to rescue themselves from relegation on the final day.
Aston Villa narrowly survived relegation last season and have since invested heavily over the summer. First of all, they appointed highly rated coach Carla Ward who left Birmingham City to join their cross-city rivals. They have also brought in respected talent like goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, forwards Alisha Lehmann and Emily Gielnik and veteran midfielder Remi Allen.
Villa have beaten Leicester and Brighton this season and snatched a last-ditch draw away at West Ham, they are clearly a different proposition compared to last season. Coach Carla Ward has made her plans for this game pretty clear, telling her pre-match press conference, “We will try to frustrate them, take our time, slow it down, make the pitch small. The best players in the world will give you the ball back if they get frustrated.
— Aston Villa Women (@AVWFCOfficial) October 1, 2021
“Jonas [Eidevall] has come in and done a fantastic job. They have quality all over the park. We need to be organised and disciplined. We need to try and frustrate them for large parts and do the best we can. They are in scintillating form. Against Leicester we were very poor but managed to come away with a win. We were better [against West Ham]. Then I would say it was a complete performance against Brighton; so we’re delighted we’re starting to get a bit of momentum.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
Vivianne Miedema was given the night off for the 5-1 win over Sp*rs on Wednesday evening to preserve her for this game and Tuesday night’s engagement in Barcelona on Tuesday evening. Miedema has scored in each of her WSL games this season, as you might expect. Ward’s side will sit deep and try to cut off her supply line.
However, how they deal with her peeling away from the frontline may well define their approach to this match. Whether they follow her and try to prevent Miedema from picking out the wide forwards, or whether they allow her to drift deep and hold their shape will define their approach to this game. Of course, whether Villa can stop her influencing the game inside the box will be pretty important for them too…
Subs: 4.Patten, 6.Williamson, 8.Nobbs, 14.Parris, 15.McCabe, 18.Williams, 19.Foord, 22.Schnaderbeck, 77.Heath.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at Villa Park on Saturday evening at 5.15pm and tickets are available on the gate. The match will be shown live on BBC Two. For a list of where it will likely be shown in other territories, check out this handy guide.
We will have match reaction from coach Jonas Eidevall on the site on Saturday evening as well as all the usual build-up to the game against Barcelona on Tuesday night, including an Arsenal Women Arsecast previewing the Barcelona game dropping on Monday afternoon UK time.