Aston Villa Women v Arsenal Preview

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THE LOWDOWN
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.

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.

TEAM NEWS
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.”

Available squad
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.

THE OPPOSITION
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.

“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…

PREDICTED LINE-UP

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.

COMING UP
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.

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Daniel

It was definitely the right idea to move this game a day earlier but is a bit annoying they clash with the men’s game now though, 2 screen set up it is

SeryxMe

Exactly! At least, they should have factored that in and given us an earlier kick-off for the women. 2 screens will still be annoying but then, what to do?

verstellung

Oh the humanity….LOL

Fun Gunner

Could be our toughest test in the WSL yet. Carla Ward will try to bore us into losing concentration and making errors – no slight on her, it’s a very smart strategy. But playing Sp*rs will have been good practice. As long as we stay alert and keep up the pace, we will be fine.
Come on the Arsenal!

Peter Story Teller

Yes Carla Ward’s Villa are a different proposition to the team we faced at the end of last season. Let’s face it they couldn’t get any worse and if we were in the sort of mindset we have now they would have been relegated. But a new season it is and they are unbeaten against other mid table clubs and we are unbeaten against Chelse, City and a normally very difficult to beat Reading! Enough said. Our only caveat is having Tuesday night’s extravaganza in the back of our minds. I had to smile that Jonas picked out a cool… Read more »

Henkamp

Actually think one of Iwabuchi/Nobbs will be joining Little and Lia/Maanum in midfield since Villa will be sitting deep and with the Barca game in mind.

Pietje

Tim, you missed Heath in the available squad? How could you??

Elise

Is there a reason Tobin is not listed in available squad? I do see her listed in predicted lineup as a sub but I got worried for a sec 😳 hoping it was just a copy paste from when she wasn’t available yet?

Elise

Also love that JE calls out Anita Asante! I’ve heard her on several podcasts (incl Arsenal women’s arsecast to talk about… JE) and she always impresses me with her clear & insightful comments. I dunno what her retirement plans are but I’d love for her to go into something media related 🙂

Goonersince55

Whatever side we put out, we should beat Villa. However, looking at the season as a whole, I think the title race is between us and Chelsea and it could well come down to goal difference, so there can be no let-up.

Henkamp

True. The Chelsea ladies are scoring for fun, but we are also doing the same at the moment. We could have racked up more goals against Reading but let up in the second half (understandably).

Yokomichi

Ok, so I take it form this preview Villa will sit deep and try to frustrate. Well Arsenal players seem too good to get frustrated as far as I’ve seen: The back line is patient to move the ball the width of the field quickly and accurately to change points of attack. Midfield can also spread passes, and when the direct option is closed they can make the good judgement to pass the ball back to a safe option to go somewhere else. Attackers have superb quality to convert, all of them. And best of all, everyone seems so diligent,… Read more »

Wolf

If you use the fa-player-app, scroll down to the section team box sets. If you select arsenal, you see highlights and full match videos of wsl Matches. For those like me, who can’t cope with to games at the same time 🙂

Fun Gunner

And fyi, the men’s matches can be watched in full on Arsenal.com but just as with FAplayer, the video isn’t available until 24 hours afterwards.

Fun Gunner

EVERYONE, please ignore my comment above – it’s badly worded and misleading. The reason the match isn’t live streamed on the FAplayer in UK this time is because it has been picked up for broadcast by the BBC. BBC Two. Normally all WSL matches can be watched live.

@Tim
Please delete my comment above and also this one as they might cause confusion. Thanks and sorry!

Peter Story Teller

Still relevant for people outside the UK, surely? It’s only off FA Player (in the UK) this time because BBC have the rights to show it live in the UK.

Yokomichi

FYI: When I tried to watch the men’s game a few weeks ago on Arsenal.com, I wasn’t able to watch the game. I did find a video stream there, but it showed the two commentators in the stadium and not the game itself.

I live outside the UK. Maybe the Arsenal.com stream for men’s game is also subject to regional restrictions.

Peter Story Teller

A little surprised Jonas has not been in contact with Malin out there in Switzerland as he seems a caring sort of chap. She is still an Arsenal player and was feeling a bit lonely away from home during the Covid pandemic so you would have thought an early contact with her might make her feel wanted even if after a year or eighteen months at home she still decides not to return to London. Personally, I would like to see her invited back to the fold when she is up to it to spend some time with her team… Read more »

Elise

Lineup just came out; looks like McCabe and Williamson are being rested, like Viv was on weds. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Heath,Iwabuchi, McCabe, Nobbs and Foord subbed on to spread the load between them and the attack/midfield on the pitch to balance everyone’s match load for Tuesday’s important game. Guessing Little, Maanum, Viv, and our two wingers won’t play the full game again thinking about Tuesday.