Saturday, May 25, 2024

Arsenal v Leicester City Women Preview

Arsenal face Leicester City on Sunday afternoon at Emirates Stadium, looking to bring down the curtain on their Emirates experience this season with a positive result. Over 40,000 tickets have been sold, which is no mean feat given the game wasn’t included in the Advantage Packs sold last summer, meaning ticket sales began from a lower baseline than usual.

In truth, Arsenal are in something of an island in third place now and Leicester City are all but safe from relegation. Pre-match Jonas Eidevall used the story of Australian speed skater Steven Bradley, who was dead last in the speed skating race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, only for all of his competitors to collide on the final corner, to rally his team ahead of the final four games.

Having secured the Conti Cup trophy for this season, Eidevall also admitted that he wants rhythm and continuity ahead of next season after an inconsistent campaign, describing this block of games as ‘the first chapter for next season.’ That is indeed the case and after last weekend’s comfortable 5-0 win over Bristol City, this game and the match at Everton next weekend present a good opportunity to build momentum.

For Leicester, they only need another point to guarantee WSL survival but realistically, they are safe from relegation. The recent sacking of Willie Kirk amid a player relationship and a painful extra-time defeat in the FA Cup semi-final against Spurs last weekend means they are also a team looking for cerebral signs of motivation ahead of the run-in.


Arsenal should be able to welcome Kyra Cooney-Cross, Laia Codina and Frida Maanum back to the squad, after they missed last weekend’s win over Bristol City. Vivianne Miedema is ‘not far away’ from a return according to Jonas Eidevall after minor knee surgery in February. Lia Walti (knee) and Lina Hurtig (personal reasons) are out for the remainder of the season. Amanda Ilestedt is unavailable due to pregnancy. Teyah Goldie returns from her ACL injury, leaving only Kaylan Marckese out of the squad with that injury.

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 62.Reid
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little 12.Maanum 21.Pelova 32.Cooney-Cross 61.Earl
FORWARDS: 9.Mead 19.Foord 23.Russo 24.Lacasse 25.Blackstenius 53.Lia

‘They have stayed very true to a lot of their principles, details change with a new manager but the overall picture remains the same. That makes a lot of sense since they recruited based on fitting into the previous manager’s game plan.

‘They are a good fit to play football that way. There are a lot of similarities for Leicester still pre and post Willie Kirk. Leicester has a really high quality squad, they recruited very strongly and their whole forward trio with Deanne Rose, Petermann and Rantala are all very, very good players.

‘It is not as easy as focusing on only one or two players when you play a top team like this. I am not surprised by Rantala at all, I have seen her playing in Sweden for many years and she has a lot of quality on her finishing, she is a very dangerous offensive player and it’s nice to see her doing that transition so well from the Swedish league to here in the WSL and making her mark here.’

When the teams met in November, Arsenal recovered from a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 6-2 with goals from Cloe Lacasse, Alessia Russo, Caitlin Foord, Victoria Pelova, Stina Blackstenius and Lina Hurtig. Last season at Meadow Park, a second half strike from Frida Maanum separated the teams.

Usually we would share a highlights video of the most recent game here but all the sharing permissions from YouTube appear to have been turned off on this occasion.

Leicester have progressed this season after a strong summer in the transfer market last year. The procurement of players like Deanne Rose, Jutta Rantala (a player who Arsenal watched in Sweden), Janice Cayman and Janina Leitzig in goal saw the Foxes significantly boost the quality of their squad and this season, they have been pretty clear of the relegation question throughout the campaign.

However, it is has been a difficult campaign for off-pitch reasons with manager Willie Kirk sacked recently after a club investigation found he had had a relationship with a player. The Foxes did get to the FA Cup semi-final but missed a presentable opportunity to get to Wembley after taking the lead against Spurs.

Jennifer Foster and Stephen Kirby are currently coaching the team until the end of the season but the Foxes will likely look for a new coach during the summer. Kirk had been Director of Football shortly before becoming manager, so a lot of the squad has been recruited in his image with his contacts book. Which direction Leicester will go in next season will be fascinating to see.


Alessia Russo helped herself to two goals in last weekend’s win over Bristol City, which means she has more goal contributions in the WSL for Arsenal this season than she managed for Manchester United last season. That suggests progress for the players but I suspect with Miedema injured and Maanum unlikely to be risked from the start, her slightly deeper role might continue

Arsenal are also trying to persuade Stina Blackstenius to sign a new deal and will probably want to start her to help convince her she can get enough first team minutes to continue with the club. Blackstenius is also Arsenal’s top goal scorer this season, of course, so she is hardly being handed ‘contract’ starts.

I found Eidevall’s comments about the Russo and Blackstenius pairing on Friday interesting as he pointed to Stina’s qualities against low blocks, occupying defenders. Earlier in the season it felt like Stina was largely played against high-line defences or in the closing stages of games when defensive lines were less organised. It suggests that Eidevall is beginning to see Russo and Blackstenius as a good pairing against deep blocks too.


Subs: 12.Maanum 14.D’Angelo 15.McCabe 24.Lacasse 26.Wienroither 27.Codina 32.Cooney-Cross 40.Williams 53.Lia

The match takes place at Emirates Stadium on Sunday at 2pm, it will be streamed live on

We will have every word of Jonas Eidevall’s post-match press conference on the site on Sunday after the game and will have the usual match analysis piece on the site on Monday.

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Fun Gunner

“Earlier in the season it felt like Stina was largely played against high-line defences or in the closing stages of games when defensive lines were less organised. It suggests that Eidevall is beginning to see Russo and Blackstenius as a good pairing against deep blocks too.” Yeah, whodathunk? I’m so glad that JE is coming round to the ideaof playing them together and experimenting but I worry that it may be coming too late. When he signed Russo, I thought he was signing another CF like Blackstenius, but one he had more faith in. After quite a short time it… Read more »

Amor pelo futebol feminino

Great things are coming (Leah W.) next season at Arsenal, Stina, if you want a competitive league, stay on your team, you have a lot to achieve. There’s no easy game, I hope it’s a good game, girls, I’ll watch it on 😉

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