Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Arsenal v Wolfsburg Frauen Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal Women play the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg at a sold out Emirates Stadium on Monday. Just read that sentence once more. The women’s team have sold out Emirates Stadium for the first ever time. While there is much to celebrate in that fact, it won’t distract Jonas Eidevall and his players from the task at hand on Monday.

An injury depleted Arsenal side showed enormous grit and determination in the first leg to overcome a two-goal deficit and turn this tie into a one-off game at home. But finishing the job will be incredibly tough against an excellent Wolfsburg team who are absolute mainstays at this stage of the Champions League.

Among the decisions for the coach will be whether to stick with the 343 formation from the first leg which was utilised largely out of necessity due to the number of injuries in the core team. I imagine whether Eidevall continues with that system will depend on the fitness of Caitlin Foord, who was kept out of the first leg by a hamstring injury. If she is available to start, I would expect the coach to revert to his preferred 4231.

However, he might be minded to begin with a back three and introduce Foord later in the game if she is only fit to start from the bench. Injuries have robbed the manager of in-game options in recent weeks but this could well be one he can retain in his sleeve. Wolfsburg will have learned a lot from last week’s tie and would probably be better prepared for Arsenal’s back three system this time. There is much for Jonas Eidevall to ponder.

TEAM NEWS


Lina Hurtig (foot) returns to the squad but Caitlin Foord (hamstring) is still out. Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema are all out with ACL injuries and Kim Little is out for the reason with a hamstring injury. Gio and Jodie Taylor are not registered for the Champions League squad.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 18.Marckese, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 2.Rafaelle, 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 26.Wienroither, 29.Goldie, 62.Reid
MIDFIELDERS: 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl, 60.Harbert, 61.Earl
FORWARDS:, 17.Hurtig, 25.Blackstenius, 59.Agyemang

Unavailable: 6.Williamson, 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 19.Foord, 20.Gio, 27.Taylor

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
It is not about me being confident or not confident it is about believing that we can do it and we are going to put everything out there to do it. It is one game between us and a dream so let’s bring everything we have onto the pitch and leave it there.

What is required in the biggest games is that it is not all going to be one-sided, you need to show all of your faces. You need to adapt during the game and go in with an open mind but full of belief and try your very best. But both teams are going to tweak things when the game is under way and it is about being coachable, being adaptable, being solution oriented.

I thought the players were magnificent in the away leg in Germany at finding solutions in a really high pressure situation, if we can do that again I would be very proud.

LAST TIME OUT
The teams drew 2-2 last week in Saxony. Wolfsburg moved into a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Ewa Pajor and Sveindis Jonsdottir before Rafaelle pulled a goal back just before half-time and Stina Blackstenius equalised in the second half.

THE OPPOSITION
Wolfsburg coach Tommy Stroot was philosophical following the first leg, “There were a lot of little things that were decisive today. Tactical tricks that the other team had to adapt to again and again. That was very interesting, we remember that from last season. But we know what things worked well today and how we conceded the goals.

“Now it is important to draw the right conclusions and prepare a plan for the second leg. We realised today that the chance [for the final] is there.” Last season when the teams met at the quarter-final stage, Wolfsburg dominated the first half of the first leg at the Emirates before allowing Arsenal back into the tie at 1-1. By the second leg, they had learned their lessons and adapted accordingly.

The view from the Wolfsburg camp seems to very much be about cutting out the errors that allowed Arsenal back into the tie. “We’ve seen we’re the better team,” said Wolfsburg defender and former Gunner Dominique Janssen. “We want to show that again away from home. We are actually our own adversary. We showed that again today. If we make fewer mistakes and are more consistent, we will definitely win the game [in London].”

PLAYER TO WATCH
I highlighted the performance of Katie McCabe in the first leg but I could have just as easily picked out Lia Wälti for her imperious midfield display. Sporting a hefty bandage on her thigh, the Swiss midfielder was a constant source of comfort in possession, breaking lines, warding off the Wolfsburg press and relieving pressure on her team by winning free-kicks (five in total).

Wolfsburg are an incredibly powerful team, especially through the centre with players like Oberdorf and former Gunner Jill Roord. Without Kim Little, Wälti has even more responsibility foisted on her but it’s a challenge she is accepting with relish. Arsenal will need her to once more step into the breach and form a barrier in front of her defence.

Last season, the absence of Wälti for the second leg was a key reason for a 2-0 defeat to this opponent in Saxony, with Jonas Eidevall remarking to Arseblog News afterwards, “The only good thing to come from tonight is that Lia got to see how important she is to this team.” Every Arsenal fan fully appreciates her importance and will be hoping she can step up with another inspired performance.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 14.D’Angelo, 16.Maritz, 17.Hurtig, 18.Marckese, 22.Kuhl, 59.Agyemang, 60.Harbert, 62.Reid.

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game takes place at Emirates Stadium on Monday at 5.45pm. The match will be streamed live on DAZN’s YouTube channel free of charge with no subscription required.

COMING UP
We will have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site shortly after full-time. We’ll probably put some kind of Arsenal Women Arsecast together for next week too regardless of the result.

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Fun Gunner

It’s such a shame Caitlin Foord is unavailable because this is her sort of game. Lina Hurtig is also a strong, fast player and I hope she takes her chance to shine if she gets minutes. I don’t see how we can start with a different line-up to last Sunday because we don’t have the players. But the formation and tactics could be different. I do like three at the back in Leah’s absence anyway because there is a natural balance to it and it caters to the strengths of our three senior CBs. Good luck girls. And Jonas. Let’s… Read more »

Salvador Berzunza

Practically we have 3 subs, Hurtig, Maritz and The Mother of Dragons Kuehl. according to the predicted Line-up, I know the girls are going to give more than 100%, but if we get a little bit of good luck should be appreciated.

Gunner H

I have a feeling KK may be a very effective impact sub.
Perhaps Lina & Noelle will be too.

Jas

It’s not even something that you could only say in hindsight; we really should have registered Gio instead of a 4th goalkeeper.

Peter Story Teller

It was a questionable decision at the time never mind hindsight but that’s the hand Jonas played!
I’d like to see Aygemang get a run out she could scare the wits out of the Wolfsburg defence.

Panos

Pelova’s natural position is winger or central midfielder?

Tim Stillman

She prefers CM but has played wide a lot in her career.

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