Sunday, May 19, 2024

Arsenal v Everton Women Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal play their first WSL match in five weeks with a home match against Everton at Meadow Park on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners ended the first stanza of the season in the worst possible manner with a shock away defeat at Spurs. A lot of the work over the winter break has focused on breaking down obstinate, deep block defences.

Jonas Eidevall, his staff and the players have been working on new combinations in their approach play and looking to introduce greater fluidity into Arsenal’s attacking patterns. They have become a strong counter pressing unit under Jonas Eidevall, their pressing triggers and positioning are very well tuned but now, they need find a greater sense of improvisation and freedom in the final third.

Not that Brian Sorensen’s Everton are a deep block defensive team, per se. They are an expansive passing team that plays out from the back. However, they do usually play with a back five against the ‘big four’ in the WSL so they will not exactly be open and gun-ho in their shape.

For Arsenal, Sam Kerr’s injury at Chelsea has, potentially, just given them an extra glimmer of hope in the title race as they sit three points behind Emma Hayes’ defending champions. However, having suffered defeats to Liverpool and Spurs this season, they have to get their house in order against the league’s middle tier, starting with Everton on Saturday.

TEAM NEWS


Steph Catley returns to the squad after returning home for personal reasons last week, meaning she missed the FA Cup victory over Watford. Kim Little (foot) is still unavailable as is Lina Hurtig (back). Leah Williamson is close to returning to the squad following her ACL injury but Wednesday’s Conti Cup tie at Reading might be a more opportune time for her to return to the match day squad. Laura Wienroither and Teyah Goldie are still out with ACL injuries. Kathrine Kuhl has joined Everton on loan for the remainder of the season but won’t be eligible to play against her parent club.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger 14.D’Angelo 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 2.Fox 3.Wubben-Moy 5.Beattie 7.Catley 27.Codina 28.Ilestedt
MIDFIELDERS: 12.Maanum 13.Walti 15.McCabe 21.Pelova 32.Cooney-Cross 53.Lia
FORWARDS 9.Mead 11.Miedema 19.Foord 23.Russo 24.Lacasse 25.Blackstenius

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
‘I really believe in what Brian (Sorensen, the Everton coach) is trying to do. If you become really good in what you are trying to do, you get a lot of repetition in doing that, that will give you the best chance of succeeding. Then it is about finding that way of combining your heart and your passion for the game but also your brain and logical decision making and what makes the team strongest.

‘For the team to stay consistent and play the same style week in, week out, I definitely think that is the best way and has more advantages than disadvantages. They haven’t let short term results influence their belief in what they are trying to achieve as a group long-term.

They have been very calm and methodical in the way they have handled that. They have picked up some results lately, in some of the games earlier in the season, they could have picked up results too but they didn’t. It has been good to see them believing in the way they play and being long-term in their vision and that will pay off for them.’

LAST TIME OUT
When this fixture was played last season, Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for Arsenal. When the teams last met in May on Merseyside, goals from Katie McCabe, Lotte Wubben-May and a brace from Caitlin Foord gave Eidevall’s side a 4-1 win.

THE OPPOSITION
Everton Women have begun to feel the financial strain of the club in recent seasons. After an ambitious, if slightly unstructured, splurge on players three to four seasons ago in an attempt to break into the ‘big four’ in the WSL, the Toffees’ plans have become far more modest in recent seasons.

They lost left-back Gabby George to Manchester United during the summer and defender Nathalie Bjorn signed for Chelsea early in the January window, on top of this they have lost Danish winger Nicoline Sorensen to retirement after she discovered a heart defect.

However, they have continued their heavily Scandinavian recruitment model- which even predates their coach Brian Sorensen’s appointment- by bringing in Kathrine Kuhl on loan from Arsenal and forward Rilke Madsen from North Carolina Courage. Everton have an uncompromising possession game built on playing out from the back, no team in the WSL makes more passes in their own half than Everton.

PLAYER TO WATCH


Having returned from an ACL injury in October, Vivianne Miedema is now in condition to start games more regularly this side of the winter break. Jonas Eidevall selected a strong side against Watford in the FA Cup, partly, because he wanted to get to work on some of the attacking pattern work he and his team had been doing during the break.

Miedema started behind Russo against Watford and while Arsenal’s squad demands a certain amount of flex and rotation, it’s clear that Eidevall saw that combination as something he really wanted to see and that, to my mind, means we will see it again against Everton.

Miedema and Russo has a lot of potential as a partnership, Miedema’s ability to hold the ball high up the pitch can encourage Russo to stay a little higher in her positioning. But Miedema’s experience as a 9 means there is potential for her and Russo to swap positions and increase the fluidity of Arsenal’s attack.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 5.Beattie, 12.Maanum, 14.D’Angelo, 19.Foord, 24.Lacasse, 25.Blackstenius, 27.Codina, 32.Cooney-Cross, 53.Lia.

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game takes place at 2pm on Saturday at Meadow Park. For viewers in the UK the game cannot be broadcast due to the 3pm blackout (which prohibits games from being broadcast in the UK between 2.45pm – 5.15pm on a Saturday afternoon). However, viewers outside the UK can watch for free on the FA Player app. If you are in the UK and not at the game, you can use a VPN to view on the FA Player.

COMING UP
We will have an on the whistle match report on Arseblog News minutes after the final whistle and we will have every word from Jonas Eidevall’s post-match press conference on the site shortly afterwards, as well as a tactical analysis piece on the game on the site on Monday.

Towards the end of next week we will have a special episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast focusing on participation of South Asian girls in women’s and girls football. We will have an exclusive interview with Aman Dosanj, who was Arsenal Women’s first ever South Asian player. We will also speak to Sky Sports reporter Miriam Walker-Khan and Nirali Sisodia, who is the founder of the Kiickback podcast: Brown Girl Football Diaries.

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Fun Gunner

“Jonas Eidevall, his staff and the players have been working on new combinations in their approach play and looking to introduce greater fluidity into Arsenal’s attacking patterns. They have become a strong counter pressing unit under Jonas Eidevall, their pressing triggers and positioning are very well tuned but now, they need find a greater sense of improvisation and freedom in the final third.” So true. We have the cake, now we need the icing. we can do any kind of icing. Butter, sugar or cream cheese icing, not to mention chocolate ganache. So get your chef’s hat on, JE! And… Read more »

Chuck Felsea

I really don’t understand why games of our women need to be scheduled to partly overlap with a game of our men, let alone a home game of the ladies which we have probably some freedom to schedule. I am not even talking about the possibility for people to visit both games live, but simply watching them on TV or stream. Even if we had no input at all on kick off times, but scheduling two professional teams of the same club overlapping is just plain dumb even by a governing body or 2 competing TV companies. That’s like scheduling… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Match scheduling has been a pig’s ear since the WSL started. The organisers of all women’s tournaments appear totally blinkered even to other matches that the teams are due to play in just look at the debacle of the World Cup and Champions League qualifying almost overlapping! To be fair to the FA I believe it was the teams that requested the game be moved to today to provide more recovery time for the cup match on Wednesday but it was then screwed up with a kick off time which not only overlaps the boys game but prevents it being… Read more »

Chrishgooner

The day and time of KO have been queried by most fan groups for months. Forgetting the KO time which is pure farce.
If Saturday was originally chosen with the thought of an extra recovery day before an important UWCL game this I understand. Once we failed to qualify was it just another “oversight” not to move it back to Sunday? I can’t believe we wanted an extra recovery day before facing Reading in a CC group game.

Fun Gunner

Well said, Chuck and PST!

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