Saturday, June 15, 2024

Arsenal v Olympique Lyonnais Feminin Preview

Arsenal host Lyon on UEFA Women’s Champions League match day five at Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening. If Jonas Eidevall’s team avoid a defeat of five goals or more, they will confirm qualification for the quarter-finals. If they avoid defeat altogether, they guarantee top spot in the group with a game to spare.

The reverse fixture in October has to be considered Arsenal’s finest individual result in their modern history, as they thumped the reigning champions 5-1 on their own turf. Lyon are still beset with injuries but do have centre-half Vanessa Gilles, winger Delphine Cascarino and playmaker Dzsenifer Maroszan back in their ranks since that night.

Arsenal took four points off Juventus, which means the Italians can’t overtake them if Arsenal win. Avoiding defeat here would also mean that Lyon can’t finish above the Gunners for the same reason. It’s a strange psychological setting to go into a match with such big opponents, knowing they need a result more than you do.

Arsenal play in Zurich on match day six, a match they ought to win if they need to. But they will want to draw the sting from that game so close to the winter break and, of course, they will want to show their deconstruction of Lyon on match day one was not a one-off. The club need to show they have arrived on this stage and winning the group with a game to spare and not losing to either Juventus or Lyon would be a statement, as well as a mathematical imperative.

Lina Hurtig is back in the squad after six weeks out with a hamstring injury. Kim Little is back in the squad too after a knee problem but Jonas Eidevall is undecided as to whether she will be able to play any minutes against Lyon. Teyah Goldie is also back in training after an ACL injury but she won’t be rushed back into action. Beth Mead (ACL) is out for the season.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Marckese, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 2.Rafaelle, 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 26.Wienroither, 62.Reid
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 23.Iwabuchi, 61.Earl
FORWARDS: 11.Miedema, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 25.Blackstenius, 59.Agyemang

It’s difficult to predict how Lyon will look (compared to the game in October), that’s their business. I will work on how Arsenal will look but we seen a Lyon team that has had a lot of strong performances. From a goal scoring opportunities perspective, they were the better team against PSG even if they ended up losing. We know it’s an excellent opponent that we need to have massive respect for.

It (the game between the teams in October) was a combination of a very good performance but we also scored at very good times. You get that combination of good timings and a good performance and everything aligned that night. It was beautiful to be a part of it but we can’t hold onto it forever. We need a new performance tomorrow and we need to be ready for that.

Arsenal were 5-1 winners on match day one in France thanks to braces from Beth Mead and Caitlin Foord and a goal from Frida Maanum.

HIGHLIGHTS | Lyon vs Arsenal (1-5) | Champions League | Foord (2), Maanum, Mead (2) – YouTube

Lyon lost a big game at the weekend, suffering a 1-0 reverse to title rivals PSG. It was their first home defeat in the league since 2014. The current champions have struggled badly this season with injuries with the likes of Dabritz, Marozsan, Mbock, Macario, Carpenter, Majri, Hegerberg and Cascarino out for extended periods of time.

However, now they have Vanessa Gilles, Cascarino and Marozsan back and they are certainly not the team Arsenal thrashed in October, when they were at the beginning of their injury crisis. Since then, the midfield of Henry, van de Donk and Horan has settled, Gilles has brought stability at the back and Cascarino has brought greater threat from wide positions.

Lyon also really need a result here to go into what will almost certainly be a match day six showdown with Juventus in the box seat to qualify. A Champions League knockout stage without Lyon is scarcely imaginable for the eight-time winners. They rose from the ashes to reclaim their title from the clutches of a dominant looking Barcelona side last season, never count them out in this competition (or any other, frankly).


Without Macario, Lyon perhaps lacks players who drive with the ball from midfield, however, Arsenal know Danielle van de Donk very well and her partnership with Lindsey Horan as dual 8s has begun to blossom in recent weeks. Lia Wälti was awarded player of the match for her faultless performance against Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Swiss will be kept plenty busy again at the base of the midfield. Lyon were unfortunate to lose to PSG on Sunday and still posed a lot of offensive threat, they need the result and they will press and push for it. Arsenal will need to be prepared for the fact that Lyon will dominate the ball for, at least, periods of this game.

That means Arsenal’s shape will need to be very compact off the ball and Wälti in particular will have to be very switched on. With Majri and Gilles back since the 5-1 victory in France in October, Arsenal will have transition opportunities but they won’t be as bountiful as they were in October. Wälti will have a busy evening shielding her defence and looking for opportunities to open up Lyon in behind with her passing between the lines.


Subs: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 16.Maritz, 17.Hurtig, 18.Marckese, 23.Iwabuchi, 59.Agyemang

The game kicks off at 8pm at Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening. The game will be streamed live on DAZN’s YouTube channel free of charge all over the world. Simply follow the link below:

DAZN UEFA Women’s Champions League – YouTube

We will have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Thursday evening shortly after full-time, as well as a match day vlog from the stadium uploaded on Friday.

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Cascarino looked very sharp in that game on Sunday running at players and beating them many times. Champions League is the main reason players go to play for Lyon and they need a result to avoid getting knocked out. They probably also want revenge for when we humiliated them last time. Looking forward to a spicy game!

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