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by Andrew Crawshaw
After two indifferent, to say the least, performances, Arsenal are back at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon to play Aston Villa, one of the most improved teams of last season. Whilst the attendance record for a WSL game isn’t likely to be beaten this weekend I would still expect there to be 40,000 plus in the ground. To put that into context – ten years ago I could turn up at Borehamwood to watch a Women’s game, pay on the gate and if there were 1,000 people in the ground it was quite a good crowd.
At his pre-match press conference, Jonas Eidevall was asked about back-to-back games at the Emirates and he commented:-
“Such an important part of how we want to grow is to make Emirates Stadium our fortress, and doing that together with the audience. That’s not going to be achieved only by the team – that has to be the team and fans in co-operation. They need to live the moments together, they need to energize each other.”
Regarding our poor performance against Liverpool in our opening game he said, “Am I really happy for us to go back to the Emirates so quickly after what I thought was a disappointing performance against Liverpool? Absolutely. Let’s show the audience another version of ourselves.”
That is a sentiment I can wholeheartedly agree with as our performance against Liverpool was dire. The way we were in that game we could have still been playing the following day and we wouldn’t have scored.
There was also little positive to say about our second match against Man United where we were still disorganised and for a large part outplayed by a pretty average Man United team. We did however show more desire and fight and our equalising goal deep into time added on was worthy of earning points in any match.
Here is the current League table:-
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||2||1||0||1||2||3||-1||1|
I must admit to having to do a double take when I entered this table as I would never have expected it to look anything like this. Maximum points for both Leicester and Liverpool, one for us and a very lucky four for Chelsea following a game where two Man City players were given red cards (both double yellows) including one for taking 26 seconds to take a free kick (and we complain about the standard of refereeing in the men’s game).
Today’s game is between two teams currently in the bottom four and is already representing something of a must-win for Arsenal. For me, the three main points of interest will be:-
- To see if Beth Mead is yet considered fit enough to make the squad, and if so how much playing time she will get. A decision is due to be made after the training session on Saturday but my bet would be that she will make the squad and maybe come on as a second-half substitute for the last 10 or 15 minutes. Beth will be the first of our ACL injury players to return to the squad. Vivianne Miedema will be about a month behind her and Leah Williamson definitely not until after the Christmas break.
- Who will start in goal – Sabrina D’Angelo didn’t cover herself in glory in our draw at United with errors leading to both of United’s goals. Will Jonas reinstate Manuella Zinsberger or show faith in Sabrina?
- Will we return to a back four or stick with a back three?
Aston Villa have had an even worse start to the season than us and have had two defeats, 2 – 1 to Manchester United on opening day (with Kirsty Hanson getting a straight red card) and 2 – 0 to Liverpool last weekend. Rachel Daly has scored their only goal so far this season and will represent their main attacking threat. Last weekend they were only able to list seven substitutes one of them a junior.
I would think our starting eleven will possibly look something like:-
Amanda Ilestead, Jen Beattie, Laia Codina
Steph Catley, Leah Wälti, Kim Little, Cloé Lacasse
Stina Blackstenius, Alessia Russo, Victoria Pelova
Mind you I’ll probably be totally wrong.
Manuella Zinsberger (GK), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Katie McCabe, Frida Maanum, Caitlin Foord, Kathrine Møller Kühl, Beth Mead, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Lina Hurtig
The other matches this weekend are:
- Saturday 17:30 – Chelsea v West Ham – should be a win for Chelsea
- Sunday 12:00 – Manchester United v Leicester – difficult to see Leicester maintaining their fantastic start to the season so I would expect United to win
- Sunday 13:00 – Manchester City v Bristol City – should be a win for Manchester despite losing two key players due to red cards.
- Sunday 16:00 – Brighton and Hove Albion v Spurs – both teams haven one and lost one so a draw looks probable
- Sunday 16:30 Liverpool v Everton – Liverpool should win this one and keep their 100% record going for another week.
Arsenal’s game is being televised on BBC1 so should be available worldwide.
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