Saturday, May 25, 2024

Arsenal v Manchester City Women Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal return to Meadow Park for the first time since May with the visit of Manchester City on Sunday, City have produced an excellent start to the season and the Gunners really cannot afford to fall any further behind them. This is a curious WSL fixture, dominated by the home team and Jonas Eidevall’s side will seek to continue that trend this weekend.

The match comes on the back of an international break where both teams have had plenty of players in action for their countries. For City, coming out of this without a defeat would represent an excellent result having drawn at home to Chelsea with nine players last month. They have only won once at Meadow Park in the last eight years, a 2-1 win during the behind closed doors season of 2020-21.

It represents Arsenal’s first game at Meadow Park since the final game of 2022-23 in May, with the first two WSL matches of this campaign having taken place at Emirates Stadium. Boss Jonas Eidevall admitted in the build-up to the game that Arsenal Women are at a crossroads between Meadow Park, which sold out in about an hour for this game, and the Emirates.

But Arsenal have a very strong record against City at Meadow Park which they will look to leverage on Sunday. Arsenal have drawn at United and lost at home to Liverpool so, in a sense, they are playing catch up. City might have a full complement of points were it not for a very contentious red card in their recent home draw with Chelsea. This match might just go some way to deciding which team will really challenge Chelsea for the title this season.

TEAM NEWS


Jonas Eidevall told Arseblog News that Lina Hurtig and Amanda Ilestedt are in contention for the game, despite missing both of Sweden’s UEFA Nations League games over the international break. Lia Wälti went off with a calf complaint during Switzerland’s defeat to Spain on Tuesday but Eidevall says she is fit for selection. Leah Williamson, Laura Wienroither and Teyah Goldie are all out in various stages of their ACL recoveries. Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and Kyra Cooney-Cross should all be in contention despite playing for Australia in Perth on Wednesday morning UK time.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 27.Codina, 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, 20.Gio, 23.Russo, 24.Lacasse, 25.Blackstenius
Unavailable: 6.Williamson, 26.Wienroither, 29.Goldie

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“Together with Chelsea, they are the two best teams at attacking crosses and they use it quite well as a weapon. There is two ways, is to stop the number of crosses and you need a good structure in order to do that. Secondly, you need to make sure you have the right structure and the right qualities to deal with their aerial threats.

“City have quality in the area but also on their crossing, so you need the right combination. Amanda (Ilestedt) is one player who is very strong at dealing with aerial duels but we also have others. I think they were really good in the spring, they beat Chelsea comfortably at home and everyone talked about them again as title contenders.

“At that point they came to Meadow Park and despite injuries and lots of Champions League games, we put on a really strong performance and managed to win that game. City have been playing really well for a long time and they have been carrying on what they have been doing since last spring which makes a lot of sense because they have a lot of consistency in the way they play because they have the same coach and a lot of the same players.”

LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met in April, Arsenal were 2-1 winners. Bunny Shaw gave City an early lead but goals from Frida Maanum and Katie McCabe won the day for Jonas Eidevall’s team.

You can see the highlights of that game by clicking here.

THE OPPOSITION
Manchester City started the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons poorly, the former due to the number of injuries they experienced, the latter due to the number of players who departed the club during the summer of 2022. It took them a couple of months to adjust to the losses of Caroline Weir, Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh- their first-choice midfield- as well as Lucy Bronze.

This summer has been a lot more settled for Gareth Taylor’s squad. In the summers of 2021 and 2022 they lost a Champions League qualifier to Real Madrid whereas, this summer, they had no UWCL qualification rounds to deal with prior to the summer. They also had very little turnover in their squad with few significant players leaving and only Jill Roord arriving.

All of this means that City have started this season very strongly with a settled side. The addition of Roord means they now have a dedicated front four as opposed to a dedicated front three. Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp outside of Bunny Shaw is one of the most devastating frontlines in the WSL and with Roord behind them, they have added an extra goal threat from deep. They will be dangerous opponents this weekend.

PLAYER TO WATCH
I expect Arsenal to line up with three centre-halves for this game and that will mean Jen Beattie coming into the centre of the back three. Beattie is one of the most aerially dominant defenders in women’s football and she will be charged with stopping Bunny Shaw, probably the most aerially dominant striker in women’s football, as and when the crosses do come in from Hemp and Kelly.

Last season, Arsenal started with a back four at home to City but moved to a back three in the final 30 minutes. I think Catley and Wubben-Moy will play as wide centre-backs and they, as well as the wide forwards, will be charged with trying to stop the service coming into the penalty area. But they won’t be able to manage it every time. When the ball comes into the area, Beattie’s tussle with Shaw will be game defining.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 1.Zinsberger, 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 12.Maanum, 24.Lacasse, 25.Blackstenius, 27.Codina, 28.Ilestedt, 32.Cooney-Cross

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game takes place at Meadow Park on Sunday at 12.30pm and will be shown live on the BBC in the UK.

COMING UP
We will have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site shortly after full-time. We will also have all the usual coverage for Thursday’s Conti Cup game with Bristol City. Arseblog News will also have a long read on the lack of ethnic diversity in the women’s team coming out in the next few days.

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kazoo

Emma Hayes leaving Chelsea to take over the USWNT, assuming there are no 11th hour objections by the board to her desire to keep coaching Chelsea through the end of the WSL season. That will be a challenge and didn’t work out too well for Mark Parsons when he coached The Netherlands. Hayes is a good pick, I think–she’s a proven winner.

Peter Story Teller

It’s not confirmed she’s going to the USA yet. She might end up at the German National Team but it is true she has history in America.
Difficult boots for Chelsea to fill though and I can see many of their players departing also!

Fun Gunner

I suspected USWNT too, but as you say we don’t know yet. She and Chelsea are going to give absolutely everything to finish on a high note.

Fun Gunner

I hope everyone is properly fit. I’d love to see Lacasse start, as she is an unknown quantity.
Good luck, girls!

Goonersince55

After yesterday’s match at Newcastle I’m not ready for another disappointment. However, it’s difficult to be optimistic. I also watched Aston Villa v Chelsea Women, glutton for punishment! Villa were so poor, very different from the side that almost beat us. They played with a more attacking formation, madness against a team like Chelsea (don’t expect to see any calls here for Carla Ward to replace Jonas). Given this season’s WSL results, we do appear to be behind Chelsea and City. We do know we’re better than that and today’s the time to show it. We need some solidity in… Read more »

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