Arsenal don’t have much basking time after Sunday’s Conti Cup Final triumph against Chelsea as Liverpool come to Meadow Park in the WSL on Wednesday night. This game was originally scheduled for the Sunday just passed but the Gunners had other fish to fry. On Wednesday, they will need to find the balance between taking the weekend’s good feeling into the Liverpool game without allowing it to distract them.
Matt Beard’s Liverpool side have not played in nearly a month and will be well rested with plenty of time to prepare for this game. With another WSL game on Sunday evening at home to Reading, Arsenal do at least get to stay in the capital for this run of three games in seven days. How Jonas Eidevall uses his squad during this week will be interesting.
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The team gave a lot on Sunday against Chelsea and there could be room for players like Victoria Pelova, Katherine Kuhl or Laura Wienroither to come in and freshen things up. However, against Chelsea there were signs of reconnection and chemistry in the forward line that they won’t want to disrupt too much. Liverpool have a strong player to player marking structure which will mean Arsenal will need to work hard in possession.
Another curiosity to look for is that all of Arsenal’s corners in the reverse fixture were out-swingers. Whether that will persist with new coach Patrik Winqvist now looking after set-pieces is an interesting wrinkle. Manchester City and Manchester United both won in the WSL over the weekend and this is Arsenal’s game in hand over both, they simply have to make it count.
Gio returns to the squad after being cup-tied for Sunday’s Conti Cup Final. Sabrina D’Angelo is close to a return but this game might come a little too soon after a knee injury. Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema are both unavailable due to ACL injuries.
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 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
“There are a lot of unknowns, Liverpool have not played for nearly a month and nobody knows what they have been doing! That is a strange situation because we have played a lot of games in that time and they have not. They have had a lot of time to prepare and think about how they go about this game.
“We need to focus on the key details of the way we want to play and be prepared for a Liverpool who will be very well organised, very physical and we need to do all the basics right to stand any chance of getting the result that we want. We need to prepare for every game. There are ten games left in the league, it is a lot of football we are going to play.
“Liverpool are a strong pressing side, they work very hard together, they are strong in transition they have strength at throw-ins and other set-pieces as well. It’s a side that poses multiple threats, they have shown this calendar year when they put things together the right way, like they did against Chelsea in the Cup, they are a resilient side that you need to be on your best day to beat.”
LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met in October, first half goals from Frida Maanum and Lia Wälti were enough for a 2-0 victory at Prenton Park.
Liverpool are currently five points clear of Leicester in the relegation zone with a game in hand- which is this one. Given that it’s their first season back in the top flight after their relegation in 2020 they will probably look upon that as acceptable as they build. However, last time out they were beaten 1-0 at home by rock bottom Leicester City.
Had they won that game, an 11-point gap would have been unassailable, the narrowed five point margin keeps them honest when it comes to looking over their shoulders. They have the second best defence in the bottom half of the table but the second worst attack. Injury issues for Dutch winger Shanice van de Sanden have really hurt them as they have struggled to find a regular supply line to Katie Stengel upfront.
Stengel and van de Sanden is a partnership that does not belong anywhere near the WSL relegation zone but the latter half of that equation has not been available for much of the season. The Reds re-signed Natasha Dowie from Reading in January though she is not quite the player she was from her first spell at the club, she poses a lot of danger from crosses. The issue for Liverpool has been supplying them.
— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) February 23, 2023
PLAYER TO WATCH
In Sunday’s victory over Chelsea, Stina Blackstenius produced one of her best performances of the season. A large part of Blackstenius’ role at centre-forward was to create space for Mead and Miedema and with the pair both injured, suddenly the spotlight was on the Swede to generate the majority of Arsenal’s goal threat.
Such is life at a big club. There have been signs of burgeoning relationships forming in the new-look forward line but when Stina went through on goal in the FA Cup match at Chelsea, she never looked fully confident as she bore down on goal and wasn’t able to correct her balance to score. On Sunday, she was excellent at providing an outlet, holding the ball up and attacking the front post as Arsenal made progress down the left.
McCabe drifted into central positions very often on Sunday too, which gave Blackstenius an increased sense of tactical purpose. She had someone to create space for. But really the performance was a triumph of soft factors, Stina has been questioned a lot in recent weeks, especially with the reports around Arsenal’s approach for Alessia Russo but she produced a convincing performance. More of the same on Wednesday would be very nice thank you.
Subs: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 17.Hurtig, 18.Marckese, 20.Gio, 22.Kuhl, 59.Agyemang.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at Meadow Park at 7.15pm on Wednesday evening, it will be streamed live on the FA Player, which is free and doesn’t require a subscription, you just need to register an account to watch. Otherwise it will be streamed live on Arsenal.com.
🤩 We don’t have to wait long to see our Gunners again!
📺 Tomorrow's game against Liverpool will be streamed LIVE on https://t.co/tK9rcmLS6V 👇
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) March 7, 2023
We will have post-match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Wednesday evening. We will also have a new episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast out before the end of the week too.