Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Arsenal v Bristol City Women Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal kickoff their defence of the Continental Tyres League Cup a few months earlier than they would have wished. Elimination in the Champions League preliminary rounds means they no longer get a bye into the quarter-finals and they kick off their group stage with a home tie against Bristol City at Meadow Park on Thursday evening.

The Gunners are buoyed by Sunday’s WSL victory over Manchester City at their home stadium but this match is likely to see a heavily rotated side, with players who we have seen little of so far this season, like Kathrine Kuhl, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Lina Hurtig all likely to play. Bristol City won their first WSL points of the season on Sunday with a thrilling 3-2 victory at West Ham.

Bristol are likely to rotate their team too though they might also fancy their chances of qualifying from a group that also features Reading and Tottenham. The teams met a few weeks ago at Ashton Gate in the WSL with Arsenal running out 2-1 winners thanks to a brace from Katie McCabe. This is far from the most relished fixture of the season so far for either team.

However, it will be a very useful match in terms of involving players who have struggled for minutes so far. The last time that Arsenal were in the group stages of this competition (also in a group with Tottenham) they actually didn’t qualify in the 2020-21 season. It’s not the game Arsenal wanted, let’s be clear, but it’s the game they have got and they will want to maintain the rhythm they have begun to find in recent weeks.

TEAM NEWS


Leah Williamson, Laura Wienroither and Teyah Goldie remain absent due to ACL injuries. Arsenal are likely to heavily rotate the team with the likes of Kathrine Kuhl, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Lina Hurtig in line for their first starts of the season. Gio cannot play for Arsenal before January because she is not registered in the squad. The biggest source of intrigue is probably who starts at left-back given Steph Catley and Katie McCabe have both been regular fixtures in the team so far this season.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 28.Ilestedt
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Walti, 15.McCabe, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl, 32.Cooney-Cross, 53.Lia
FORWARDS:, 9.Mead, 11,Miedema, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 23.Russo, 24.Lacasse, 25.Blackstenius
Unavailable: 6.Williamson, 26.Wienroither, 27.Codina, 29.Goldie

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
I expect for them to be very well organised, they play a defensive formation with a lot of pressing and intensity. They are the team in the league that presses the most and we need to expect that again. For us, we had those expectations when we went there a couple of weeks ago.

We know they are a very competitive side and we need to be very good in our attacking play, our positions, our decision making in order to create the situations that we want. Who knows if it is a good time or a bad time to play them? Are they hungry for more victories? (After their first win of the season on Sunday). They are a good, competitive team and we have respect for them. We need a good display in order to get the result we want.

LAST TIME OUT
The last time the teams met at Meadow Park, Bristol City took an early lead through Abigail Harrison before goals from Jordan Nobbs, Caitlin Foord and Vivianne Miedema gave Arsenal a 3-1 victory. They met in the Conti Cup group stage in November 2019 too, with the Gunners running out 7-0 winners with braces from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema, as well as goals from Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs and Jen Beattie.

THE OPPOSITION
Bristol City Women have been on a journey of rediscovery over the last decade or so. Now a kind of yo-yo club between the Championship and the WSL, Bristol City have rebranded from Bristol Academy when they were firmly tied to Bristol University. In fact, back in 2014, they had a vision that, by 2024, all their first team would be Bristol University alumni.

They were one of the forerunners of the WSL too, they were pipped to the title on the final day by Liverpool in 2013 and were beaten by Arsenal in the FA Cup Finals of 2011 and 2013. They competed in the Champions League in 2011 and 2014. They have boasted talent such as Jemma Rose, Natalia Pablos Sanchon, Siobhan Chamberlain, Carla Humphrey and Caroline Weir, who have played for Arsenal. They have also been coached by former England coach Mark Sampson, as well as Willie Kirk and current Northern Ireland boss Tanya Oxtoby.

Now they must negotiate the realities of being one of two WSL sides, along with Leicester City, not backed by a Premier League men’s outfit- clearly, Leicester, as 2016 Premier League winners and 2021 FA Cup winners, are distinct from Bristol City, who have not played in the men’s top-flight since 1980. Now coached by former Wales and Spurs Assistant Manager Lauren Smith, their aim for this season is very much WSL survival.

PLAYER TO WATCH


Kyra Cooney-Cross was Arsenal’s headline grabbing deadline day signing from Hammarby, but the Australian has only played five minutes so far this season and those were on the opening day of the season. The midfielder has been inducted gently given the lateness of her arrival in England and the fact that Arsenal’s pre-season was so compressed in any case.

With disruption at centre-half and a new striker, Eidevall has banked on the stability of the Little Wälti partnership at the base of the midfield to this point. Thursday will be Cooney-Cross’ first chance to really impress. A likely midfield trio of Kathrine Kuhl, Cooney-Cross and Frida Maanum is likely to be an adventurous one and she might be asked to anchor it on occasion.

It might give an insight into where we might see more of KCC too. Little and Wälti very much operate as a double pivot, though when Pelova is in the team, sometimes she drops into the double pivot with Little pushed on ahead. In short, Arsenal’s midfield can be a movable feast and it will be interesting to see how KCC can rotate into that carousel, as it were.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

(4231) 14.D’Angelo; 16.Maritz, 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley; 32.Cooney-Cross, 22.Kuhl,24.Lacasse, 12.Maanum, 17.Hurtig; 25.Blackstenius.

Subs: 1.Zinsberger, 9.Mead, 10.Little, 11.Miedema, 13.Walti, 15.McCabe, 21.Pelova, 23.Russo, 28.Ilestedt

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at Meadow Park at 7pm on Thursday evening and will be streamed live and free on the FA Player website (you just need to register a free account to watch) and on Arsenal.com.

COMING UP
We will have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site shortly after the game- we will try to grab a player too! Next week we will have a long read on the site around the lack of ethnic diversity in the first team squad, with the perspective of Black and ethnic minority fans, former players and from the club too.

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Bruce

C oYGG

Dave

With Gio – as she is under 21 can she not be listed as an academy player and that way is available. Think this is what happened last year?

Chrishgooner

Still find this 25 player squad baffling. When, since the start of the season 28 names (including Gio) have been listed in the match programmes.
Particularly when it was obvious that Leah, Laura and Teyah wouldn’t kick a ball in anger until Spring.

Peter Story Teller

Exactly, Teyah didn’t do her ACL until pre-season so she is unlikely to feature even if Leah and Laura make it to some games. To have a fit player on gardening leave while you have 3 in long term rehab doesn’t sound like pragmatic management to me!

Gunner H

Looking forward to see some of our young star players get their chance.

And hope coverage on the FA Player is superior to the last time!

pahtotheworld

Some of not knowing what is going on with players in the womens game is ridiculous. Players turn up on chamionship teams teamsheets before a loan has been announced. Now six weeks into a season we get to know a player can’t play

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