Wednesday, April 24, 2024

London City Lionesses v Arsenal Preview (Take 2)

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal travel to Dartford for their rearranged Conti Cup quarter-final against London City Lionesses on Wednesday evening. Having been eliminated from the FA Cup with a narrow defeat against Manchester City on Sunday, the Conti Cup becomes the only trophy Arsenal have a solid chance of winning given that they trail Chelsea by six points at the top of the WSL.

A home tie against Aston Villa awaits the winner in the semi-finals and with Chelsea and City playing one another in the other semi, Arsenal have to consider that as reasonable a route to the final as they could have wished for. But full focus must be on dispatching Championship strugglers LCL on Wednesday before a crunch home game against Manchester United in the WSL on Saturday.

A win on Wednesday puts Arsenal in a home semi-final and a win against United would put a seven point gap to Marc Skinner’s side and go a long way to securing one of the three Champions League qualification spots in the league. It is a big week for Arsenal to repair the belief of the team and the supporters after two damaging defeats recently.

This game was rained off last week due to a waterlogged pitch and LCL, strangely, sacked their coach Carolina Morace later in the evening at the time the game should have been played. It all adds up to a surreal build-up to this. Nevertheless, Arsenal are strong favourites, they vanquished Reading 6-0 in the group stages and Watford 5-1 in the FA Cup and both teams are in the same area of the second tier as LCL. Only a win- and a good one- will do.

TEAM NEWS


Emily Fox is not available as she has been called up to play at the Gold Cup for the USA. Sabrina D’Angelo and Cloe Lacasse won’t be asked to join up with Canada until Monday for the same competition. Amanda Ilestedt is still out with illness and Vivianne Miedema is out with a meniscus irritation which Arsenal will likely rest into the international break. Lina Hurtig (back), Laura Wienroither (ACL) and Teyah Goldie (ACL) are long term absentees.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS 1.Zinsberger 14.D’Angelo 40.Williams 86.Bouhaddi
DEFENDERS 3.Wubben-Moy 6.Williamson 7.Catley 15.McCabe 27.Codina
MIDFIELDERS 10.Little 12.Maanum 13.Walti 21.Pelova 32.Cooney-Cross
FORWARDS 9.Mead 19.Foord 23.Russo 24.Lacasse 25.Blackstenius

LAST TIME OUT
The last time these teams met was in the 2022 FA Cup 5th Round at Meadow Park where Arsenal were 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from Vivianne Miedema. The teams last met at Princes Park in November 2020 where the Gunners ran out 4-0 winners with Vivianne Miedema scoring all four goals.

HIGHLIGHTS | London City Lionesses vs Arsenal (0-4) | Miedema scores four! – YouTube

THE OPPOSITION
LCL have recently been taken over by Korean American businesswoman Michelle Kang who has also taken over Lyon and Washington Spirit as she seeks to form something of a women’s football empire. LCL brought in seasoned WSL performers like former Gunners Emma Mitchell, Dan Carter and Ruesha Littlejohn, as well as goalkeeper Grace Moloney and recently Megan Campbell.

However, the season has not gone as they had hoped and recent good results for a Michelle Agyemang inspired Watford and Lewes have sucked LCL into the relegation fight, which probably caused them to remove coach Carolina Morace last week. Goalkeeper coach Darren Smith has taken temporary charge of the team with rumours abound that LCL might look to re-hire Mel Phillips, recently sacked by Brighton.

LCL are one of two independent women’s clubs alongside Durham having broken away from Millwall Lionesses in 2018. It makes securing a fan base and funding tricky so it will be interesting to see how Michelle Kang’s ownership shapes up. When LCL were in the promotion race from the second tier last season I believe they were told a WSL license might be tricky for them to come by. How Kang sees them as part of the Lyon and Washington Spirit triumvirate will be fascinating.

PLAYER TO WATCH


Cloe Lacasse has only played 31 minutes over the last three games with some supporters growing frustrated with her lack of minutes while Arsenal continue to struggle in front of goal. It is natural that, when a team has bad results, the reputation of the players who are not playing inflates in concert.

Arsenal’s attacking issues seem to be more structural than personnel based but it’s difficult to deny that Lacasse has been unfortunate to find herself an unused sub so often in recent weeks. The Canadian will surely get the chance to start in Kent on Wednesday evening and go some way to staking her claim for greater inclusion.

That is how it goes for squad players, you build a case gradually. A good cameo earns you a longer cameo next time and so on until you really push for a starting place. The fact that Lacasse can play on the left and right hand side ought to have been an advantage for her, especially with Lina Hurtig injured for the majority of the season. A strong showing here could make her case for, at the very least, a longer cameo against United on Saturday before she flies off to the Gold Cup.

PREDICTED LINE UP

*update: predicting Wubben-Moy in the starting line up instead of Ilestedt

Subs: 1.Zinsberger 6.Williamson 9.Mead 13.Walti 21.Pelova 23.Russo 40.Williams 86.Bouhaddi

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at Princes Park in Dartford on Wednesday evening and kicks off at 7pm. The match will be streamed live and free on the FA Player.

COMING UP
We will have full match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Wednesday evening as well as the on the whistle match report. We will also have an Arsenal Women Arsecast out for you on Thursday looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Manchester United with All For United WFC’s Conner Roberts.

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Salvador Berzunza

Why we didn’t start with this line up against Westham. Leah, Mead, Miedema, Pelova and Russo to finishing it and job done, happy days.

Fun Gunner

Thanks for the preview, Tim. Regarding Lacasse, it’s not that her reputation is being inflated because she isn’t playing – we know Beth Mead is a better player. But not when she is so badly off form. It’s the fact that we bought a player to sub in for either Foord or Mead and we’re not using her when we could – that’s the frustration. She could help with our structural issues. Lacasse is ideal for pulling a defence out of shape. She runs beyond the midfield line to receive a pass. Or carry the ball from the halfway line… Read more »

dontthinkshoot

Agreed it’s a bloody big week for the club, and as Tim notes, not just for the belief of the team but also the supporters. This season hasn’t gone as badly as LCLs, but we had big ambitions at the start of the season and to go out of so many competitions in so similar a fashion is really chastening. It feels like a real write-off already. I appreciate we can still win the Conti Cup but that’s no progress on last season. All this despite so many great players returning and decent new additions (who I don’t feel we’re… Read more »

RamsdaleMyHero

Bigger question is should we still persist with Jonas or wait for him to come up with some ppt & nice presentation skills to convince the board to give him an extension?

Fun Gunner

It’s got to the stage when all I want to see is a good 90 minutes from the team. Then another one at the weekend, and so on. I just want to see Arsenal Women being Arsenal Women again. If we can do that, who knows? All is not lost, but the performances and the underlying metrics have to improve as of *now* or we have no chance.

Peter Story Teller

Yes, you can handle the disappointment of losing if the team put in 100% but you are beaten by a better side or bad luck. At the moment we are losing to teams who are not better than us, and that includes City, but the performances are so poor I can’t be bothered to rate them. It seems like we have one good game a season in us and the rest of the time we just muddle through. This season it was Chelsea, before that Lyon, what match shall we actually play to our ability next season?

dontthinkshoot

The funny thing is I don’t think our performances have been apocalyptically bad. We’re not imploding on the pitch. We just seem a bit listless, lacking spark or ideas on how to take on the opposition. Passes constantly under hit or not to feet, little movement across the front line (apart from Russo, who’s moving all over the place too much now, leaving the box vacant) etc etc. But worst of all we look unmotivated. As soon as we (inevitably) concede against the run of play, all the players just walk away. No one is taking charge, or having a… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Yes, the problem is when all the players are up for it we beat Lyon 5-1 away from home so we know it can be done but far too often it’s as you say listless and unmotivated. Good teams grind out a result when not playing well but when we are in our “average” mindset we lose to a set piece or an individual error. City did not play well either and nil – nil at full time would not have been an unfair result to either side but we lost and they didn’t! At times Jonas seems to overthink.… Read more »

Foggy

There was a clip in one the behind the scenes videos where Jonas sends the team out with the very words “I trust you!” and it seemed telling that he had to say it. I think they’re overburdened with Jonas tactics and on balance its too much about him. But only on balance, theres a lot good that he gives us, just the balance is wrong. He needs to let them play a bit more.

Fun Gunner

I think you might have a point there – information/intensity overload?

Collibosher

Tactical advice: Take your chances!

Mikels Arteta

#jonasOUT

Michael

Who do you suggest?

Ted Harvey

Arsenal ladies have 2 teams
The one that beat Chelsea , a team to play agains a team that wants to play football
The other is to play against 11 and a bus, this team uses Amanda for corners, Lacasse and Stina to attack, KCC can then stand deep to hit targets.
But a back 4 to defend against Being hit on the break

Michael

I just think that Russo is being set up to take the blame for whatever is going on. One football site referred to her as anonymous against Man City because she never scored and this seems to be the wider view of some Gooners. The service to Russo is vastly different to that given to Stina, largely because they are nowhere near the same kind of player. They move differently around the pitch and largely assume a varied array of positions. I think Russo has taken time to settle in and is a different forward to most others we might… Read more »

Gunner H

Agree fully with your analysis, Michael.

Peter Story Teller

Comments about Arsenal players so you are fine. Personally, I think Lessi is doing quite well at what she is being asked to do. The biggest problem is the expectation that she came with as a goalscorer and an outright No9. She is anything but a direct replacement for Stina. I am still of the opinion that they should both play and not swap one out for the other but unfortunately I am not the coach! As I said in one of my earlier posts Lessi drops deep to pick up the ball but no one runs past her so… Read more »

Fun Gunner

Russo doesn’t take enough of her chances, BUT in other ways her work on and off the ball is stellar and indefatigable. She is not the problem, I agree.

dontthinkshoot

I’m so glad someone brought up the Russo Problem! I think her movement across the front line is exceptional – if you watch her closely she is always making small runs or movements to get space, or is sizing up angles to run into. And no one spots it. Ever. Her first touch is usually so good she can take the ball when she has her back to goal, and roll the central defender. Or make a nice layoff. Instead she often ends up dropping deep to get the ball (and bringing defenders with her) but as someone pointed out,… Read more »

Fun Gunner

Spot on.
Many of us are indeed praying for a Stina + Lessi partnership. One day…

kazoo

She’s a good player but overrated. For some reason Eidevall had this Jones for her–acting like she’s a female Henry or somesuch. It was a bit crazy. He already had a freakin’ all-star roster, but always needs one more…

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