by Andrew Crawshaw
Arsenal’s somewhat wobbly start to he WSL has been corrected as an opening day defeat and second-week draw have now been followed by three wins which, whilst not entirely convincing, have shown an increasing fluidity of our play.
The current table is :-
We are at the bottom of a group of teams on 10 points on goal difference and three points behind league leaders Chelsea. So continuing our three-match unbeaten streak is essential. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that there are only 22 matches in the season so this weekend effectively marks a quarter of the season. I said at the beginning of the year that we couldn’t afford more than one loss if we are to entertain realistic hopes of becoming champions and I still think that will probably be the case.
We had good news on the injury front on Thursday with Beth Mead being fit enough to start a man for the first time in eleven and a half months. Her partner Vivianne Miedema was also able to play as a substitute for 20 minutes as she continues her recovery from her ACL injury. Leah Williamson is still a couple of months behind but it is possible that we might start to see her in the New Year.
Whilst we are still far from our fluent best there have been signs of us starting to regain our one or two-touch passive and intricate movement in the past couple of games. It still isn’t up to full speed but it’s starting to come. I just hope that it continues on Sunday.
This weekend’s games are all on Sunday :-
12:30 – Manchester United v West Ham – should be a multiple goal win for United. They are scoring 2.5 a game in the WSL, and only conceding 1, West ham are scoring one and conceding just over 1.5. United to win 3 – 1
12:30 – Spurs v Liverpool – Spurs are scoring at the same are as Man United but are conceding at the are of 1.5 per game. West Ham have averaged one goal a game and have conceded about 1.5 so I would expect this to be a Spurs win by 2 or 3 to 1
13:00 – Man City v Brighton and Hove Albion – I think City will bounce straight back from their defeat to us and win this one convincingly by at least 3 goals to nil
13:00 – Everton v Chelsea – Another banker for Chelsea, I would expect them to win with a flurry of goals possible five nil
14:00 – Bristol City v Aston Villa – Aston Villa are the disappointment of he season for me, last year they were the most improved team, this year they really haven’t got going at all. If they don’t start getting points soon they may become irredeemably adrift at the bottom of the table. This game has all he hallmarks of a relegation six pointer. Both teams have conceded 16 goals in their 5 games, Villa have scored 4, Bristol 7. I think there will be goals at each end and on current form would think that Bristol could edge it 3 – 2. I wouldn’t be surprised at a draw though.
18:45 – Leicester v Arsenal – Leicester started the season really well but have lost their last two matches to slip into mid-table. On paper this should be a comfortable win for Arsenal, but we are rarely finding things too comfortable this season. Indeed we are yet to keep a clean sheet although we aren’t allowing our opponents many scoring opportunities.
I would expect us to revert back to nearer the starting 11 for our last league game against Man City. I think it is probably too soon for Beth Mead to start two matches in four days but would expect her to be a finisher for this mach. My starting 11 would be:-
Steph Catley, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Amanda Ilstedt, Katie McCabe
Leah Wälti, Kim Little
Caitlin Ford, Fiida Maanum, Chloe Lacasse
Subs:- Sabrina D’Angelo (GK), Jen Beattie, Noelle Maritz, Kahine Møller Kühl, Beth Mead, Lina Hurtig, Stina Blackstenius, Vivianne Miedema
I would hope that we manage to keep a clean sheet and score at least three goals.
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