Monday, June 24, 2024

Manchester City Women v Arsenal Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Having slugged it out for 120 minutes in the Conti Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening at Meadow Park, Manchester City and Arsenal cross swords again, this time at the Academy Stadium in the WSL on Saturday lunchtime. The Gunners were 1-0 winners on Wednesday thanks to Stina Blackstenius’ extra-time winner.

However, Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall urged the need for humility ahead of Saturday, “it will be another very close match decided by small details, either team could have won this game (on Wednesday).” The chief curiosity is whether Eidevall sticks with the back three that he deployed on Wednesday.

The Gunners boss said he was moved to make this change due to the danger posed by City’s front three and they will be waiting for Arsenal again on Saturday. Eidevall said he “hadn’t decided yet” whether he would stick with the system for the weekend, much of that will possibly defend on whether Lia Walti, an unused sub on Wednesday, will be fit to take part.

In the wider respect, having drawn their last two WSL games there is pressure on Arsenal to win and extend the gap to Manchester City in the table and close the gap to Chelsea. Arsenal haven’t won at the Academy Stadium since May 2017 so they are long overdue.

TEAM NEWS


Gio returns after being cup-tied for Wednesday’s game. Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead are out with ACL injuries, while Lia Walti returned to the squad on Wednesday she was an unused sub and may not be considered ready to start a match like this. Teyah Goldie is also continuing her recovery.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 18.Marckese
DEFENDERS: 2.Rafaelle, 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 26.Wienroither
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl
FORWARDS: 15.McCabe, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 20.Gio, 25.Blackstenius, 59.Agyemang

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“I don’t know yet what we are going to do so it is going to be a good guessing game for them! That is part of the reason why I think it is important to have two different systems to make it harder for opponents to prepare for us. But now recovery is going to be a big part of how we prepare for this game.

“Who is the best with their eating? Who is the best with sleeping? Taking ice baths. You have to be a world champion in those things for Thursday and Friday, that is what will make a big difference on Saturday. We understand it is going to be a really close game again, it will be decided by small margins and small details.

“Just like today (Wednesday) I am really happy with a lot of the things we do, there are some things we need to do better but I still think it’s a game that both teams could have won. They also had some great chances to win it so let’s stay humble and prepare ourselves properly and we will have a great chance but it’s going to be super hard.”

LAST TIME OUT
Having not met for 14 months, the teams now meet twice in a week. Arsenal were 1-0 winners on Wednesday in the Conti Cup semi-final thanks to Stina Blackstenius’ extra-time goal. When the teams last met at the Academy Stadium in January 2022, the score finished 1-1. Lauren Hemp put City in front but Tobin Heath scored a stoppage time equaliser.

THE OPPOSITION
City have not lost at home to Arsenal for nearly six years now. There was a cigarette paper between the teams overall on Wednesday evening with the momentum of the game swinging backwards and forwards. Expect another tough, toe-to-toe encounter on Saturday.

Arsenal paid City the respect of changing their formation for the first ever time under Jonas Eidevall and that’s because their front three of Hemp, Kelly and Shaw generate so much threat. For City, only a win realistically keeps them in the title hunt, any other result and they are looking at fighting for Champions League qualification.

However, the element of surprise won’t be there if Arsenal do stick with the back three this time and they will have a little more time to ruminate on ways through the Gunners’ reinforced defensive structure. They also spared Laura Coombs for the majority of Wednesday’s game and she will be a key figure for City as their second top scorer this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH


Among a sea of commendable performances on Wednesday was Katie McCabe who played at left wing-back. Given that she flits between the left wing and left-back at Arsenal and plays at left wing-back for Ireland, it stands to reason that she was well equipped to take on the role.

However, McCabe found an excellent balance between pushing City right-back Kerstin Casparij back. McCabe found a way to counteract the threat of Chloe Kelly while sustaining an attacking threat from that flank. If Eidevall is to repeat the system on Saturday, it will be difficult to ignore her for the left wing-back role.

Her aggression also suits tightly contested games such as this one. I lost count of the number of times she collided with City sub Hayley Raso and, ultimately, Chloe Kelly sailed close to the wind for a red card and had to be replaced due to McCabe’s unapologetic approach.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 5.Beattie, 13.Wälti, 14.D’Angelo, 16.Maritz, 17.Hurtig, 18.Marckese, 20.Gio, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl.

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 12.30pm on Saturday at the Academy Stadium and will be shown live on Sky Sports Football in the UK.

COMING UP
We will have post-match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Saturday afternoon and an Arsenal Women Arsecast mailbag edition during the international break.

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MartynJ

Waiting to see City’s back line too. Morgan wasn’t even on the bench on Wednesday, and Kennedy went off injured.

Fun Gunner

I’m glad I’m not the one who has to pick the team. Stina deserves to start as well as Katie, though. I thought the team that was subbed on caused more trouble for Man City than the team we started with. I hope we do keep a back three not just for tomorrow, but for the rest of the season. It really suits Lotte, Leah and Rafa and keeps Leah as part of the back line, which I prefer. And we can be as aggressive and attacking as we like – it’s not an inherently defensive formation when your left… Read more »

Gunner H

I hope Jonas makes several substitution early in the 2nd half, taking into account the score and what’s happening on the field of play of course.

Let’s not forget that fatigue and recovery figures into the selection process for this game.

Sabrina must be the team goalkeeper, with much respect to Manu.

Fun Gunner

Plus of course 3 at the back is perfect for Jen Beattie to slot into.

chig

Expecting another tense tactical game. A draw wouldn’t be a disaster if it’s as tight as Wednesday. Need to keep a gap to 4th place

Gunner H

I very much wish it was on BBC and not Sky again.

Andrew Gambrill

Would be cool if you could also add ways of listening to radio commentary in the “How to catch the game ” section:)

Fun Gunner

TheFAplayer app/website always has radio commentary of domestic women’s football matches. It’s free in the UK. Also shows all matches not picked up by Sky.

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