Monday, April 22, 2024

Arsenal v Chelsea Women: Conti Cup Final Preview

THE LOWDOWN

Arsenal face Chelsea in the Conti Cup Final for the second consecutive season hoping for much the same result as last season when they emerged 3-1 winners. That final was immediately preceded by a defeat away at Chelsea and Arsenal fans will hope those are good omens for a season defining game for Jonas Eidevall’s team.

While Chelsea are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the Champions League and top the WSL on goal difference, things are different for Arsenal, who exited the Champions League at the qualifying stage, went out of the FA Cup in the 5th round against Manchester City and are six points behind City and Chelsea in the WSL.

When asked whether this game was more important for Arsenal and Chelsea, Eidevall struck a defiant tone. ‘It is always more important that Arsenal wins, I agree with you!’ But there is no hiding that, on an island in third place in the WSL, unlikely to finish higher or lower, this feels like the last gut shredding game of the campaign and Arsenal need this to salvage something from a disappointing campaign.

Encounters between Arsenal and Chelsea tend to have a seesaw nature. Arseblog News put it to Eidevall that one team often wins well, only for the beaten team to lick their wounds and course correct in the next meeting. ‘Let’s hope that continues!’ He joked in response. Arsenal need a performance on Sunday and I think it is fair to say they need the result more than Emma Hayes’ side too.

TEAM NEWS


Jonas Eidevall reported no new injuries for this game, so that means Lia Walti and Vivianne Miedema (both knee) miss out. Lina Hurtig (back), Kaylan Marckese (knee), Amanda Ilestedt (maternity leave) and Teyah Goldie (knee) are out too. Sarah Bouhaddi departed the club after her eight week contract expired. Laura Wienroither should be in the squad after making the subs bench against Aston Villa. Katie Reid is cup tied after playing for Watford earlier in the competition.

Available squad

GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger 14.D’Angelo 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 2.Fox 3.Wubben-Moy 6.Williamson 7.Catley 15.McCabe 26.Wienroither 27.Codina
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little 12.Maanum 21.Pelova 32.Cooney-Cross 53.Lia 61.Earl
FORWARDS: 9.Mead 19.Foord 23.Russo 24.Lacasse 25.Blackstenius

A WORD FROM THE BOSS

“I look around the training centre and it’s a big weekend for the club. It is a focused feeling, we look forward to it. The result was important last weekend, the performance was even more important coming back to a lot of the standards we value so highly in the way we play. We need to continue to build because it is going to be a tough challenge on Sunday.

“I don’t think there is any mental obstacle for us, we know we can beat Chelsea because we have done so on numerous occasions. They have beaten us on numerous occasions too. We are playing a very, very good team. It is really about coming down to the best team on the day and preparation plays a huge part in that.”

LAST TIME OUT

When the teams met a fortnight ago at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were 3-1 winners thanks to a brace from Nusken and a goal from James, with a late Macario own goal giving Arsenal a consolation. The last time the teams met in this competition was last year’s final and Arsenal were 3-1 winners on that occasion. Sam Kerr put Chelsea in front before goals from Stina Blackstenius, a Kim Little penalty and a header from Rafaelle gave the Gunners a 3-1 win at Selhurst Park.

THE OPPOSITION

Chelsea are in the final weeks of the Emma Hayes era and are on course for a quadruple, the same feat Arsenal managed in 2006-07 when Hayes was assistant manager with the Gunners. City are stiff opponents for the WSL with Chelsea ahead of them on goal difference and City with no other distractions.

They will meet defending European champions Barcelona in the Champions League Semi-Final and Arsenal await them in the Conti Cup Final. Under Hayes’ stewardship, Chelsea have developed a way of ‘getting it done’ that other teams have not been able to match. That resilience is being tested to its fullest at the moment with long-term injuries to Sam Kerr and Millie Bright.

While Arsenal want the same result as last season, Chelsea aiming to avoid the unique ignominy of losing three consecutive Conti Cup Finals. Their 4411 formation ripped into Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, it’s a system they have played for several weeks now so Eidevall and his team ought to be better prepared for it. But with Myra Ramirez back upfront, the Arsenal rearguard will have their hands full with Ramirez and James upfront.

PLAYER TO WATCH

During the preview podcast we recorded with Art de Roche earlier this week, we managed to talk ourselves into the idea of Alessia Russo starting on the left wing but drifting in-field to create a midfield ‘box shape.’ Russo played excellently in that position in the semi-final against Aston Villa, will Jonas Eidevall noting the level of threat she provides on the back post.

Chelsea’s front two kept bodies away from Lauren James in the recent game between the teams and Arsenal could adopt a back three to deal with that. Another option, that Art and I discussed, was playing Russo on the left but asking her to move in-field to create a box midfield with Maanum and Russo as dual 10s and Little and Pelova as dual 6s.

The downside for Chelsea of playing a 442 is only playing two central midfielders and having Russo drop into this area to help outnumber Chelsea feels like a strong option. Whether mine and Art’s galaxy brained thoughts come to fruition, Russo didn’t start at Stamford Bridge and that felt like an error. This also offers a chance for her first club silverware.

PREDICTED LINE UPS

Subs: 7.Catley, 14.D’Angelo, 19.Foord, 24.Lacasse, 26,Wienroither, 27.Codina, 32.Cooney-Cross, 40.Williams, 53.Lia

HOW TO CATCH THE GAME

The game takes place at Molineux and kicks off at 3pm on Sunday. It will be shown live on BBC Two in the UK.

COMING UP

We will have the usual on the whistle match report, every word from Jonas Eidevall’s post-match press conference, as well as the usual in-depth analysis piece on Monday. We’ll also record a post-match podcast of some flavour on Monday too.

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Peter Story Teller

We need to be on it from the “W” of the first whistle! It’s no good waiting until half time before starting to play when we are already chasing 3 goals!

Amor pelo futebol feminino

X1 very good with an aggressive attack as it should be, and I think VAR will be used in this game, I don’t know if I’m right

Karen

Does anyone know what kit we will be wearing, as I don’t want to have a personal ‘shirtgate’ at the ground 😁

Fun Gunner

😂

Goonersince55

I’d certainly go along with the idea of playing Lessi on the left. She can be a threat coming in to meet crosses at the back post and can also link with the midfield. Another reason for not playing a more conventional winger in that position is that I think they would get very little change out of Ève Périsset.

dontthinkshoot

Fair play to people making the trip to Wolves for the match.
COYG! We can do this!

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