Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Liverpool Women v Arsenal preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal continue their FA Cup campaign with a trip to Championship leaders Liverpool on Sunday after dispatching London City Lionesses in the previous round. It’s the first meeting between the sides since the Reds’ relegation from the top-flight two seasons ago, though Liverpool are very well positioned to be promoted back into the WSL for the 2022-23 season.

It’s the first game following the intense February international break, which has seen plenty of players involved in three games while away with their countries. This marks a period of three games in a week for Jonas Eidevall’s side too with WSL home games against Reading on Wednesday and Birmingham next weekend.

Liverpool is a WSL side in waiting and if the Gunners take their eye off the ball for this cup tie, Matt Beard’s side have the tools to punish them. Arsenal qualified for round five with a fairly underwhelming 1-0 win at home to London City Lionesses, a game in which they tried to manage their burgeoning injury situation at the time as much as anything.

The international break has been kind to the Gunners fitness wise with none of the players that went away returning with injuries according to the coach when Arseblog News spoke to him on Friday. Arsenal have won this competition 14 times, far more than any other team but they haven’t won it since 2016 and still bear the scars of their 3-0 thrashing to Chelsea in the 2021 Final.

TEAM NEWS
Centre-half Lotte Wubben-Moy will not be risked for this game. Lotte pulled out of the England squad during the break with a muscle injury, Eidevall says she could play at a stretch but with a fully fit squad and a full calendar, she will not be risked. Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord and Mana Iwabuchi did not have international duty following January’s Asian Cup and all must be candidates to start as a result.

Tobin Heath was not called up for the USA and also had a fortnight or so off. Lia Wälti was not called up for Switzerland due to a nagging foot problem which required a little rest. She will be fine for this game, however. Kim Little also had some time off now she has retired from international football. Simone Boye’s Denmark only played once and cancelled their other two Algarve Cup games due to covid cases in the squad but Simone was unaffected.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Williams, 24.Stenson
DEFENDERS: 2.Rafaelle, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 20.Boye, 26.Wienroither
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 14.Parris, 19.Foord, 25.Blackstenius, 77.Heath

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“We have massive respect for Liverpool and the season they are having. We do have a lot of fixtures coming up so our decision making (on team selection) has to be good and it has to combine long-term and short-term thinking. You can’t ask for much more than what Liverpool have produced this season. To win the league, as I think Liverpool will, it’s always difficult.

“A team that can do that and lead the league with a margin will always be a very good team. They have been tested against some WSL teams in the Conti Cup and I think they will look forward to this test to see where their level is at. We also look forward to it, because we are playing a really good team.”

LAST TIME OUT
The last time that Arsenal travelled to Liverpool (well, Chester actually!) they were 3-2 winners in the WSL thanks to a Vivianne Miedema brace and a header from Jordan Nobbs. When the Gunners last travelled to Prenton Park it was March 2019 and goals from Kim Little, two from Beth Mead and a goal apiece from Dominique Bloodworth and Vivianne Miedema.

THE OPPOSITION
Liverpool were relegated from the WSL in 2020 when the season was cancelled due to the pandemic and the table was decided on points per game. The women’s team had suffered years of cuts and underfunding which led to their eventual demise. Last season, they finished 3rd in the second tier as they readjusted to life in a new league.

Young coach Vicky Jepson was relieved of her duties midway through last season and the club took an age to appoint a successor, with now assistant Amber Whiteley placed in temporary charge. Last summer, they reappointed Matt Beard, who had coached Liverpool between 2013 and 2015 and he has led them to a runaway lead at the top of the Championship.

Their current squad contains a host of former Arsenal players like Niamh Fahey, Carla Humphrey, Taylor Hinds, Jade Bailey and Rianna Dean. Liverpool are gearing up for life in the top flight again and will consider this game a yardstick for next season against the current WSL leaders. In their games against other WSL opposition this season in the Conti Cup, they have drawn with Aston Villa and lost 1-0 to Spurs in the Conti Cup quarter-final.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Nikita Parris has not scored for Arsenal since November and, surprisingly, has yet to score for the club in the WSL (she has three goals in the Champions League and one in the FA Cup). Arseblog News spoke to Jonas Eidevall about Parris’ goal scoring form on Friday and he said he felt that the team were still adjusting to her off-ball movement.

It hasn’t clicked for Parris at Arsenal yet but having not played many minutes for England during the Arnold Clark Cup, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Toxteth born attacker was given a chance to find her shooting boots in this game. In the WSL, two of Parris’ 13 shots have been on target with a total XG of 2.5. It will come and when it does, a measure of calm will probably return to her finishing too.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

 

Subs: 1.Zinsberger, 5.Beattie, 8.Nobbs, 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 13.Walti, 15.McCabe, 16.Maritz, 77.Heath.

(I am just predicting that Williamson will be rested based on the fact that you can only have nine subs, nothing to suggest she is not available or able to play).

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park on Sunday at 12noon. The game will be shown on the BBC Red Button and BBC iPlayer in the UK and will be broadcast live on the FA Player everywhere else. Simply register an account for free here to watch.

COMING UP
Hopefully you saw our exclusive interview with Mana Iwabuchi that went live on Wednesday morning. We will have the usual post-match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday afternoon, as well as the usual post-match video too.

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Ricky

Maanum played 3 x 90 minutes for Norway in the break. It’s possible that either Nobbs or Walti is starting ahead of her.

Chrishgooner

Having fought hard to regain some momentum after the FA Cup final and Brum loses, I hope we really go for this game.

Dan

Interesting photo choice there Tim 😁

MartynJ

I;m a big fan of the “not quite ready” team photos. More please.

Nic

BBC seem to have ditched it for the athletics on the red button!

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