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by Andrew Crawshaw
Arsenal start their 2023/24 Champions League campaign in Sweden on Wednesday 6th where we play Lincopings in a 16:00 kick off.
As we finished third in the WSL last season we enter the competition in Round 1 which are a series of 4 team mini tournaments. We are in a group that comprises Lincopings, Paris FC and the Ukranian side FC Kryvbas Kriviy Rih.
Lincopings finished in third place in the Swedish League last season behind winners FC Rosengärd and BV Häcken. Paris FC were third in the French League behind PSG and winners Lyon. FC Kryvbas Kriviy Rih are apparently being supported by Cologne in Germany following the Russian invasion of their country. Last season they finished as runners-up in the Ukrainian league behind Vorskla Poltava.
We play Lincopings at 16:00 with the Paris v Kryvbas game later in the evening at 19:00. The two losers play a runner’s up game on Saturday with the winners playing on Sunday. The winners of the group final progress to a round 2 two legged knock out match with the matches on 10/11 and 17/18 October.
The winners then progress to the group stage in one of 4 four team groups. Uefa have devised the competition format so don’t blame me if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It certainly seems to me to be less than simple and straightforward.
Our players registered with Uefa to play on Wednesday are
GKs – Manu Zinsburger, Sabrina D,Angelo, Naomi Williams (an academy player)
Defenders – Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie, Steph Catley, Noelle Maritz, Laia Codina, Amanda Iliesedt
Midfielders – Kim Little, Frida Magnum, Lia Walti, Kathrine Kuhl, Victoria Pelova
Forwards – Beth Mead, Katie McCabe, Lina Hurtig, Caitlin Ford, Gio, Alessia Russo, Cloe Lacasse and Stina Blackstenius.
So a welcome return for Beth Mead who is now back in full training following her ACL and Gio is also included although it is expected that she will go out on loan before the close of the transfer window.
Our new signings, English striker Alessia Russo; Spanish Defender Laia Cordina, Swedish Defender (and scorer of excellent headed goals) Amanda Ilestedt and Canadian striker Cloe Lacasse are all included
Sadly missing is our young defender Teyah Goldie who sadly tore the ACL in her other knee after making a return to playing at the end of last season. The injury seemingly happened whilst she was on holiday in the post-season break. Cruel luck for her.
I would expect a starting lineup of:-
Noelle Maritz, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Amanda Ilestedt, Steph Catley
Kim Little, Lia Walti, Frida Maanum
Caitlin Food, Stina Blackstenius, Alessia Russo
I am also looking for us to win the game by more than two goals.
It will be a major surprise if we don’t win this mini-group, although as the matches will be our first of the season it will be unreasonable to expect our usual free-flowing football from the outset. I would expect the Swedes to provide stiffer competition can either the French or Ukrainians but having to win competitive games at this stage of the season is the penalty we have to pay for only coming third in the WSL last year. I should also point out that Man City have failed at this stage at their last two attempts so good teams don’t always progress.
As I write this on Monday evening I can’t find any indication of how to watch the game on TV, I would hope that arsenal.com will be able to provide coverage. Uefa’s deal with DAZN doesn’t include the round 1 matches so they are no help. If I find something I will add the information in the comments.
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