Arsenal face Paris FC in Linkoping in the final of their UWCL qualifying mini tournament, after dispatching the hosts 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon. Paris were 4-0 victors over Ukrainian side FC Vrybas on Wednesday evening, which leaves the Gunners and their French opponents to face off for the right to go into the playoff round (a two legged tie which determines who enters the group stage).
On Wednesday, it took Arsenal half an hour or so to find their rhythm and were left to rue an early penalty miss by Kim Little. However, shortly before half-time the Gunners began to find their beat and, crucially, they were able to make good substitutions too- Blackstenius and Hurtig both scored from the bench.
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Arsenal will have benefitted from that game, against a good level of opposition and a few more days away together in Sweden as they prepare to take on the team that finished third in Ligue 1 Feminin behind Lyon and PSG. Jonas Eidevall and one of the Arsenal analysts were in attendance for Paris FC’s convincing win over Vrybas.
He will have seen enough to determine that this will be another high level opponent. The Linkoping game was by no means frictionless, they created danger and Paris FC showed themselves to be a strong counterattacking team against Vrybas. It will also be interesting to see how much rotation there is compared to Wednesday’s game, in which Arsenal were able to use all five of their substitutions to good effect.
Beth Mead is with the travelling squad after just over nine months out with an ACL injury but she will take no part in this game as she enters the final stages of her rehab. Leah Williamson, Laura Wienroither, Teyah Goldie and Vivianne Miedema are all out with ACL injuries. New signing Laia Codina did not travel with the squad as she has not had sufficient training since joining the club from Barcelona.
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 15.McCabe, 16.Maritz, 28.Ilestedt
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Walti, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl, 53.Lia
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 20.Gio, 23.Russo, 25.Blackstenius
A WORD FROM THE BOSS
‘In the first half, Paris were the better team against Vrybas but it was still quite an even game and Vrybas was working very hard. Paris are a very strong counter attacking team, Vrybas did not create a lot against their defensive organisation.
‘When you see the first goal, it comes from a counter-attack from a Vrybas corner and I don’t think that is a coincidence. They scored a lot from wide positions too so I think the game against Vrybas was representative of Paris’ strengths. Their counter attacking strategies and the pace they have from wide areas- they are really good at that.
LAST TIME OUT
The teams have never met competitively.
Paris FC are a club that focuses heavily on developing star talent, formerly known as Juvisy, they boast graduates such as Kadidiatou Diani and Sarah Bouhaddi. 18 members of their registered UWCL squad are 22 or under. They also have French international Clara Mateo in midfield.
QUEL RÉGAL !
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Against Vrybas, they demonstrated their effectiveness on the counter attack with their left winger Julie Dufour bagging a hat-trick, largely from broken play or counter attack chances and that will surely be an area that Arsenal will have to be wary of. This is a young team, which means they will have plenty of energy so Eidevall’s team will have to let their experience show.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Katie McCabe was nominated for the Ballon D’Or this week, the first Irish woman to be nominated and the first Irish player since Roy Keane in 2000. McCabe played left-back and right-back during the Linkoping game and her versatility is a result of her quality as a player.
Often players are versatile because they don’t really master a position, McCabe is versatile because she has mastered several. McCabe has performed at such a high level in so many roles for so long that we take it for granted. I don’t doubt that she will start this game and that she will probably play in more than one position as it develops- it’s an incredibly crucial player to have in the team and the squad.
PREDICTED LINE UPS
5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 9.Mead, 14.D’Angelo, 19.Foord, 20.Gio, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl, 23.Russo, 53.Lia
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game takes place at 2pm UK time on Saturday in Linkoping, it will be streamed live on Arsenal.com.
We will have all the post-match reaction from Jonas Eidevall and a player or two as well on Saturday afternoon. We will have plenty of content to preview the beginning of the WSL season on 1 October too.