Thursday, July 18, 2024

Everton Women v Arsenal Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal travel to Merseyside on Wednesday evening aiming to continue their good run and seal Champions League qualification for next season. A rousing 4-0 win at Brighton last Wednesday was just the ticket for the Gunners, not least because they had the match wrapped up in the first half which, given how stretched the squad is, was very welcome.

On the face of it, Everton are ensconced in midtable, they are without Jess Park and coming off the back of a 7-0 reverse away at Chelsea. The Toffees have lost at home to Villa, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. But the Gunners will be taking nothing for granted, especially with the demands placed on a squad stretched thin by injuries.

With just three matches remaining, third place and a spot in the Champions League qualifying rounds is in Arsenal’s hands- they are not mathematically out of the title race with a trip to Kingsmeadow on the horizon on Sunday. Physically, however, it has been the case for some time that Arsenal are trying to get over the line and then to restock the squad in the summer.

Chelsea travel to West Ham on the same evening with Sky Sports showing the games back-to-back, a decision probably taken in the hope of more of a title race in the offing than we currently have. Arsenal will just concentrate on taking as many of the next nine points available as they can but realistically, it has been about Champions League qualification since the defeat to Manchester United in April.

TEAM NEWS


Lina Hurtig is still out for Arsenal with Jonas Eidevall saying this will be ‘one game too soon’ for her return. However, Steph Catley returns to the squad after a thigh strain and Gio is fine after taking a knock in the Brighton game. With Leah Williamson, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead and Laura Wienroither all out with ACL injuries and Kim Little out with a hamstring problem. Lia Wälti returns after dropping out of the starting line-up for the Brighton game with illness. Michelle Agyemang and Katie Reid are unavailable as they are with England at the U-17 Euros. Caitlin Foord is in line to start after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 18.Marckese, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 2.Rafaelle, 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 29.Goldie, 50.Doe
MIDFIELDERS: 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl, 56.Godfrey, 61.Earl
FORWARDS:, 19.Foord, 20.Gio, 25.Blackstenius, 27.Taylor
Unavailable: 6.Williamson, 9.Mead, 10.Little, 11. Miedema, 17.Hurtig, 26.Wienroither, 59.Agyemang, 62.Reid

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“I think that the data tells the truth in how you see them play. They are very consistent in the way they play. It comes from their coach, Brian, who has a very clear idea of how he wants to play. I think that idea is not only dependent on one or two players, it’s a long-term vision that he has for the team.

“They have been very true to those principles and that way of playing for the whole season. You can never know if someone changes but if you look to history, at least, there is not too much to show they will change. I think that has been their advantage this season, that they have stayed true to their principles, it gives players stability and confidence.nThey have played some great football in parts of this season, we are looking forward to the game but we know it will be a tough challenge.”

LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met in December, the Gunners ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a Vivianne Miedema goal. In this fixture last season, Arsenal were 3-0 victors with goals from Caitlin Foord, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs.

HIGHLIGHTS | Arsenal vs Everton (1-0) | WSL | Miedema with a wonder goal! – YouTube

THE OPPOSITION
Everton sit in sixth place on 27 points, having scored 24 goals and conceded 28. It’s a firmly midtable season but an improvement on last season’s total drift into 10th place. Under Brian Sorensen, appointed at the end of last season, they have devised a much clearer playing philosophy built on counter-attacking through swift wide players like Jess Park and Nicoline Sorensen.

Everton will be without Park, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury and returns to her parent club Manchester City. Everton have redefined their transfer policy a little to take young players on loan from ‘the big four’, with Gio (Arsenal), Emily Ramsey (Manchester United), Aggie Beever-Jones (Chelsea) and Jess Park (Manchester City) joining on one-season loans last summer. Gio, of course, has already returned to Arsenal.

There is little chance of City letting Park go permanently, Everton might have better luck with goalkeeper Emily Ramsey, but it does mean they will have to rebuild those elements of their squad ahead of next season. After last weekend’s 7-0 defeat at Chelsea, Sorensen will be keen that his team do not allow the season to drift to an aimless conclusion.

Everton play a 433 against the teams below them in the league but against the top five they almost always play a 343 formation. However, Gabby George was key to making that work at left wing-back and she is now injured, they went with a 433 against Chelsea and…it did not go well.

Everton are a team that builds patiently, they don’t play many long balls or have many switches of play. Nobody averages more touches in their own defensive third in the WSL. No team attempts more take-ons either, which shows how crucial Sorensen and Park are in those wide positions. They like to draw opponents onto them before finding the wingers. They draw more fouls per match than any other WSL side.

PLAYER TO WATCH


Lia Wälti officially extended her Arsenal contract earlier this month with the official announcement made on Thursday. Wälti has been a bona fide part of the spine of the Gunners team since her arrival in 2018. When Joe Montemurro signed Wälti from Turbine Potsdam in 2018, it marked the full transition to his patient possession style, her signing was the starting pistol for Montemurro to overhaul Arsenal’s style and mould it into his own.

In 2021, Jonas Eidevall arrived in North London with new ideas of his own. No longer is Wälti asked to be the sole spoke of the midfield wheel, with the Swiss and Kim Little playing left and right central midfield roles respectively, with both players taking it in turns to collect the ball from the centre-backs to distribute.

Wälti has acclimatised to this slightly new role remarkably well, seamlessly adapting to a more transitional style of attack which makes greater physical demands of her. She often veers to the left in Arsenal’s build-up and her ability to thread through balls over long distances and pull a team’s press out of shape in the process. Wälti continues to be one of Arsenal’s most important players.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 7.Catley, 14.D’Angelo, 18.Marckese, 20.Gio, 22.Kuhl, 27.Taylor, 50.Doe, 56.Gregory

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at Everton’s Walton Hall Park and kicks off at 6.15pm 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 Wednesday evening.

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Bruce

COYGG

Fun Gunner

Good luck tonight, girls!

Canon Fodder

Has any other club lost their four key players in a season and still be in place for the top three? I think not. 🤔

Peter Story Teller

And would have made the Champions League final but for a couple of defensive lapses of concentration that handed WOB 2 goals!

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