Monday, April 22, 2024

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur Women Preview

Arsenal play Tottenham in front of what is likely to be a sold out Emirates Stadium on Sunday lunchtime with a little revenge in order. Spurs produced a shock victory over the Gunners in the game before the Christmas break, a defeat that damaged Arsenal’s title hopes.

Victory over Manchester United last time out put the Gunners three points behind Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the table and only a win on Sunday will do to keep Jonas Eidevall’s team in touch with the league leaders. Though the Gunners comfortably despatched United, their issue has not been against other members of the ‘big four.’

They have taken 10 points out of a possible 12 against United, City and Chelsea in the WSL this season. However, their three defeats have come against Liverpool (5th), Tottenham (6th) and West Ham (10th). It is against the deep defensive blocks where the Gunners have faced issues and this will be a significant test in that respect.

Arsenal’s pressing will need to be on point in this game too, as Spurs showed with their winning goal in December, Tottenham do play out from the back and the Gunners’ pressing was not on point in the reverse fixture. The goal was a particularly harsh punishment but there were opportunities to force high turnovers not taken and that will be a rick route to goal scoring opportunities if they can get it right on this occasion.


Emily Fox, Cloe Lacasse and Sabrina D’Angelo definitely miss out due to their participation in the Gold Cup, while Vivianne Miedema will be out for several weeks due to requiring clean up surgery on her knee. Lina Hurtig (back), Kaylan Marckese (ACL), Laura Wienroither (ACL) and Teyah Goldie (ACL) are all definitely out. Leah Williamson (hamstring), Katie McCabe (thigh) and Victoria Pelova (calf) are all in contention and Amanda Ilestedt (illness) is training with the squad again but not ready for Sunday.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger 40.Williams 86.Bouhaddi
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy 6.Williamson 7.Catley 15.McCabe 27.Codina 62.Reid
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

‘I think that goal [in the last Spurs match] very much shows the risk and reward in football. I don’t think we pressed aggressively enough in that moment, so we allowed them to get out. It’s probably the only time that they really got out during the whole game trying to do that. I think we forced them to a lot of turnovers in that game as well.

‘We were not very good at converting from those turnover moments. And these things will be important against a very organised team. You will need to take the moments that they are disorganised with some real efficiency because it might not happen a lot of times during the game. So you have to try to force that to happen a few more times, but then also make sure that you use them.

‘In football, it’s always going to be hard to break down an organised team. So that’s going to be one part in order to do it but then take advantage of the disorganised situations and we didn’t do that well enough in the last game against them. But I think we created quite a lot of disorganised situations.’

When the teams met in December at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Spurs won a North London derby for the first time ever in a 1-0 victory thanks to a second half goal from Martha Thomas. In this fixture last season, the Gunners won 4-0 at Emirates Stadium with goals from Beth Mead, Rafaelle and a brace from Vivianne Miedema.

Under Swedish coach Robert Vilahamn, Spurs have found a strong playing identity again after a season of transition when Rehanne Skinner was sacked in the spring of 2023 in a campaign which saw them finish 9th. In 2021-22, they finished 5th with some pundits tipping them to trouble the league’s big four and challenge for Champions League qualification.

But under Skinner, they struggled to score the number of goals required to really challenge the elite. Now they have procured Beth England from Chelsea and Martha Thomas from West Ham, both of whom are proven goalscorers at this level. On top of that, the loan acquisition of Grace Clinton from Manchester United has also given them a strong creative edge.

Clinton started both England games in the recent international break and with her close control and dribbling, she is both an excellent creative player and a strong outlet to retain possession for Spurs when they are defending for long spells. They have a good defence and now they have the ability to counter attack with it.


Lia Walti was voted as’s Player of the Month and rightly so. The Swiss has been subjected to very strong competition for her place this season for the first time since joining in the summer of 2018. With Victoria Pelova, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Kathrine Kuhl having arrived at the club in the last year, there is serious competition for a central midfield berth.

But Walti has retained her place and her importance and has been asked to play a slightly different role on the left of a double pivot. As well as being excellent at recovering the ball and starting play from deep positions, she is one of Arsenal’s best and most imaginative forward passers.

Her ability on both feet means she can punch a killer pass through the lines from multiple angles but she is especially good at finding those passes when she pulls over into the left-back slot and plays through balls from deep. Walti is one of Arsenal’s best weapons against a deep block and whoever else starts in central midfield on Sunday, Walti will be selected without doubt.


Subs: 6.Williamson 12.Maanum 21.Pelova 25.Blackstenius 40.Williams 53.Lia 61.Earl 62.Reid 86.Bouhaddi

The game kicks off at 12.30pm on Sunday at Emirates Stadium. The game will be screened live on BBC Two in the UK.

We’ll have match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday lunchtime. Hopefully you also heard my appearance on this week’s main Arsecast talking about how Arsenal have successfully marketed their women’s team to ensure consistent high crowds at the Emirates.

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Fun Gunner

Even with all the forced absences, we can still afford to keep extra firepower on the bench, we have a choice of top midfielders and backup in defence and gk position. You can’t beat having a big squad.
I want us to win this so badly.
And we have indeed sold out the Emirates!

Colin Carey

Surely with Mead, Foord and Little playing behind Russo they should outgun Spurs. Nine points lost against lesser teams, can’t afford to lose any more.


The girls need one of Arteta’s famous revenge speeches before the game. That December reverse was one of the most painful results of 2023 for me personally. I need us to absolutely crush them on Sunday. How I’ll love a westham away score!

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