Thursday, July 18, 2024

Arsenal v Aston Villa Women Preview

THE LOWDOWN
Arsenal face Aston Villa in the Conti Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening at Meadow Park, aiming to defend the trophy they won last season. The Gunners defeated Aston Villa at home in the quarter-final last season en route to beating Chelsea in the final. For Jonas Eidevall and Arsenal, who trail Chelsea and Manchester City by three points at the top of the WSL, this represents the Gunners’ best, if not quite only, chance of a trophy this season.

Carla Ward’s Aston Villa come to Meadow Park and stand in Arsenal’s way. For the Villans, the Conti Cup represents a holy grail given that Villa have not had the league season they wanted with injuries decimating the squad. Villa will be hungry to make their mark in women’s football with a trophy but, like all the domestic trophies, Arsenal have the monopoly on this one.

It’s a challenging week for Eidevall and Arsenal as they rather laboured to a 1-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday off the back of a damaging international break for the team in terms of injuries and travel. With Manchester City and Chelsea also in the draw, Villa at home was realistically the best Arsenal could have hoped for from the draw but Villa have more than enough quality to make this a tough game indeed.

They won on their last visit to Meadow Park last May and Arsenal are still a little light with injuries and four players still away at the Gold Cup. But they have nine days before they visit Chelsea in the WSL and nothing less than qualifying for the final at Molineux on 31 March will do for Arsenal.

TEAM NEWS


Katie Reid is unavailable having played for Watford in the group stage and that is the only change from the squad that played the North London derby on Sunday. That means Amanda Ilestedt is still out with illness, Arseblog News asked whether there was a timeline for Ilestedt’s reintroduction into the team at his pre-match press conference, to which he replied, ‘not yet.’

Emily Fox, Cloe Lacasse and Sabrina D’Angelo are still away at the Gold Cup though USA play Canada in the semi-finals on Wednesday so either Fox, or D’Angelo and Lacasse, will be returning home later this week. Vivianne Miedema (knee), Lina Hurtig (back) and Laura Wienroither, Kaylan Marckese and Teyah Goldie (all ACL) are still out.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger 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 53.Lia 61.Earl
FORWARDS: 9.Mead 19.Foord 23.Russo 25.Blackstenius

A WORD FROM THE BOSS
‘It’s a good side, Aston Villa. They have a lot to play for being in the semi-finals, just as we do, and apart from the game against Liverpool, their last game here which I think they’re disappointed with, I think you have seen a Villa side that has been progressing and developing after the new year. We need to be on our very best behaviour and performance tomorrow in order to get the result we want.

‘We’re still in two competitions and we would like to do our very, very best to win both of them. This is a really important game for doing that tomorrow. We’re going to do our very, very best to try to go to another final.’

LAST TIME OUT
The teams met in the WSL at Emirates Stadium back in October and a pair of injury time goals from Katie McCabe and Alessia Russo turned a one goal deficit into a 2-1 victory. When the teams met at Meadow Park in the quarter-final last season, Arsenal were 3-0 winners with a brace from Frida Maanum and a goal from Caitlin Foord.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Laia Codina’s Arsenal career got off to a slow start for a number of reasons. The Spaniard had a muscle injury earlier in the season and the need for defensive stability meant that the partnership of Lotte Wubben-Moy and Amanda Ilestedt was preferred. Codina had to wait for her chance as a result. Amanda Ilestedt’s recent illness and Leah Williamson’s tight hamstring have opened the door for her.

Codina was primarily bought as a left centre-half, even though she is right-footed she has played on the left of the defensive pairing for much of her career. However, she has been playing to the right of Lotte Wubben-Moy in recent games. On my list of questions for Jonas Eidevall is whether that is driven by Codina and a curiosity to see her play on her natural side or whether Eidevall sees Wubben-Moy as his left-sided choice.

The latter would probably be bad news for Codina, with Williamson back she has the position on right side of the defensive pairing on lockdown. The left sided role is the one up for grabs and it would be understandable if Eidevall has been convinced by Wubben-Moy’s form this season to see her as the principal partner for Williamson. These games will be invaluable for Codina to maintain her recent rhythm and state her case for more regular inclusion.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Subs: 6.Williamson 13.Walti 21.Pelova 23.Russo 40.Williams 53.Lia 62.Earl 86.Bouhaddi

HOW TO WATCH
The match takes place at Meadow Park at 7.15pm on Wednesday evening and will be screened live on the BBC iPlayer in the UK.

COMING UP
We will have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site shortly after the final whistle. We will also have an Arsenal Women Arsecast looking ahead to next week’s trip to Chelsea too. And don’t forget to sign up to our free weekly Arsenal Women newsletter.

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Fun Gunner

Cheers, Tim. Can’t wait. In a way this is even tougher than Sunday, because AV are a tricky side and attacking (as they will have to do) suits them. We will have tired legs and minds after getting up for the job v Spurs. I think it will be a better game to watch, though. Ilestedt’s situation is worrying. Obviously the club won’t disclose the nature of her illness, since that’s private information, but now I am catastrophising. Get well soon, Amanda – we need you. It’s good to know that Codina had a muscular injury that was hampering her… Read more »

dontthinkshoot

Very glad the game is on BBC. Really looking forward to this, COYG

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