Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Leicester City Women v Arsenal Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal travel to rock bottom Leicester City on Sunday aiming to maintain their perfect start in the WSL. The Gunners are slightly depleted with Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema added to the list of absentees. Miedema has been given a leave of absence for this game and the subsequent international fixtures.

With Jordan Nobbs and Frida Maanum in good form, Miedema’s club coach has made the call to give her some rest in co-operation with Netherlands boss Andries Jonker. We saw Miedema given time off this time last year as well over burnout fears with international tournaments backed up in three consecutive summers.

While Leicester remain pointless this season they did change managers on Friday with Lydia Bedford relieved of her duties and succeeded by Willie Kirk, which adds an element of unpredictability to how the Foxes will set up. The fixture brings to an end a block of fixtures which Arsenal have negotiated very well to this point.

After the November international break, the next block of games includes a double header against Juventus as well as home games against Lyon and Manchester United. It’s crucial that the Gunners don’t slip up here because they are unlikely to manage a perfect return for all of the fixtures before Christmas. Jonas Eidevall and his team need not be reminded of their only WSL defeat last season away at the bottom club…

TEAM NEWS
Leah Williamson and Rafaelle are both absent with foot injuries, Kim Little is unlikely to play before Christmas with a medial collateral ligament injury, while Vivianne Miedema is rested. Teyah Goldie (ACL) is also out.
Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Marckese, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 26.Wienroither, 62.Reid
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 25.Blackstenius, 59.Agyemang

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“We know Leicester is a very well-organised team with a very good defensive structure, when you look at their underlying data they have some of the best defensive numbers in the division. We know they will be very difficult to break down and I think you saw that when they played Manchester United (and narrowly lost 1-0).

“Of course we know this is a results business, primarily and it is always sad to see a fellow coach lose their job. I hope Lydia (Bedford) can take encouragement from Leicester’s performances, even if the results weren’t quite there and we see her back in the WSL because she is a really good coach and she has done a good job with Leicester.”

LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met at the King Power Stadium in April, the Gunners ran out 5-0 winners with goals from Beth Mead, a brace from Vivianne Miedema, an own goal from Ashleigh Plumptre and a late goal from Tobin Heath.

HIGHLIGHTS | Leicester City vs Arsenal (0-5) | WSL | Mead, Miedema, Heath – YouTube

THE OPPOSITION
Leicester were promoted to the WSL in 2021 and achieved their main target of survival by two points above Birmingham City, who were relegated. The Foxes beat Birmingham twice and that was enough to seal their survival. This time out, it looks like Leicester will again be in the relegation fight and that has encouraged them to part company with coach Lydia Bedford.

They took a similar decision last November, parting company with Jonathan Morgan. Bedford is the second WSL coach to lose her job this week with Hope Powell stepping down at Brighton, demonstrating just how much clubs value WSL survival. The Foxes endured a heart-breaking result last weekend against likely relegation rivals Reading.

They led in stoppage time only for Rachel Rowe to equalise on 90 minutes direct from a corner before slamming home a 95th minute winner from range. It was a damaging result at the foot of the table and damaging for morale too but in Willie Kirk, they have a wily and experienced coach who has managed Bristol City and Everton and been Casey Stoney’s assistant at Manchester United.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Jordan Nobbs has scored in her last two appearances and her appearance from the bench changed the course of the game against West Ham United last weekend. With Kim Little expected to be out until the New Year, Nobbs should finally get a chance for a run in the team and in her favoured position too.

While the squad getting smaller is a concern for Arsenal, they need not worry about Nobbs coming into the midfield. She is a very different player to Kim, the Scot is one of the best small space players in the world but Jordan is one of the best big space players. Her ability to combine in possession and spread the play with quick diagonals increases the tempo for Arsenal in the engine room and she provides a very real goal threat too.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 5.Beattie, 16.Maritz, 17.Hurtig, 18.Mackerse, 23.Iwabuchi, 40.Williams, 59.Agyemang, 61.Earl

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 2pm on Sunday and takes place at the King Power Stadium, it will be shown live on BBC iPlayer, red button and BBC Sport online.

COMING UP
We will have the usual match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday afternoon, as well as the usual match analysis piece on the site on Monday evening or Tuesday morning. The Arsenal Women Arsecast October mailbag edition will be out on Tuesday.

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MartynJ

BBC showing it via the iPlayer, BBC Sport website, and red button options only, not BBC2.

Collibosher

Great! Thanks.

Fun Gunner

Thanks, MartynJ. I’ve been caught out before, thinking I was recording a match.

Jocelyn Houghton

For fans in the U.S., this match will be streamed on Paramount+ (she says, from Seattle).

Gunner H

I suspect and hope that rotation will again be intelligently used versus Leicester, with perhaps Iwabuchi, Hurtig and Mackerse getting a game.

Gunner H

I meant in the starting line-up

Chuck Felsea

Quite annoying now the situation here in Austria and Germany. I was happy when it was announced that sky paytv will have broadcasting rights, but it seems even the games they don’t broadcast are now blocked on the faplayer with the option for audio only. Last year it was very comfortable, when I was able to watch all games on the faplayer. Whoever makes such deals should know that restricting interested fans in their possibilities to legally watch is not really beneficial for the women’s game. I don’t really understand why the game needs to be restricted in the FA… Read more »

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