by Andrew Crawshaw
Match report of the first leg Borehamwood Tuesday 31 August
It was nice going to watch a game live again (I was poorly on the day of the Men’s season opener and so this was my first live game). The journey was rather reassuring, Park the car at Penge East, £1 for parking (free after 18:30), change three steps up the line onto the Thameslink which took me north through central London to Elstree and Borehamwood. From there a walk along the High Street with a visit to the Golden Plaice for a portion of their excellent fish and chips and a walk to the ground.
This year, my experience inside the ground is somewhat different as I opted to have a designated seat rather than having to chose a different seat for each game. The games are getting much better attended and once or twice last season it was virtually impossible to find a seat with anything of a view so I decided the extra expenditures would be well worth it. This season will see me in the East Stand row E towards the half way line. I’ll probably be wearing the biggest hat in the stadium so say hello if you see me.
The starting lineup was
Noelle Maritz, Leah Williamson, Jen Beattie, Steph Catley
Kim Little, Frida Maanum, Mana Iwabuchi
Nikita Parris, Caitlin Foord, Katie McCabe
GKs Lydia Williams, Cull, Defenders Lotte WubbenxMoy, Anna Patten, Boye Sørensen, Teyah Goldie, Midfield Leah Wälti Forwards Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema
A welcome return to Jen Beattie and starts for summer signings Frida Maanum, Mana Iwabuchi and Nikita Parris, a bit of a surprise that Viv was only on the bench but with Chelsea to come at the weekend probably a good decision.
Our new manager, Jonas Eidevall, wasn’t at the game he was home arranging visas for his family to join him so the team were in the capable hands of his assistants.
To say that we had a great start was a complete understatement. Less than two minutes in and Steph Catley made a surging run down the left flank and crossed for Nikita Parris, who was waiting at the back post to head home her first Arsenal goal on English soil. Nothing like a quick goal to settle the nerves in a European game! We were dominant throughout the first half and it was a surprise that we didn’t add to our score until the 31st minute.
Caitlin Foord was clearly fouled in the box and captain Kim Little made no mistake from the penalty spot side footing into the bottom right of the goal with the Czech keeper going to the left. We carried the two goal advantage into the half time break.
In the second half Prague were a little more pro-active and tried more long balls. Zinsberger had her first save to make in the 53rd minute. In the 63rd minute we made a triple substitution – on came Miedema, Wälti and Lotte Wubben-Moy, replacing Foord, Little and Williamson.
It didn’t take Viv Miedema long to get up to match speed, in the 71st minute her first shot was off target but in the fourth Arsenal substitution of Beth Mead coming on for Nikita Parris had immediate effect as she provided Viv with a second scoring opportunity in the 72nd minute Viv’s 96th club goal.
Further opportunities came at both ends but no further goals were scored. The result means that we take a three goal advantage to the Czech capital and on the basis of this match there seems no way that we will lose by four goals or more. Progression to the round of 16 mini leagues looks 95% secured.
A word about the Italian match officials – Referee Maria Marotta, assistants Francesca Di Monte and Tiziana Trascatti and Fourth Official Silvia Gasperotti were even handed throughout, the Assistant on my side was impeccable in her positioning, a pleasure to watch. The ref was a bit picky but showed no bias. In the second half she allowed a number of niggly fouls by the Czech team without showing cards (fouls given but nothing further). All in all a good performance and one which put to shame the PGMO appointees we are used to in both the PL and WSL.
Second Leg Preview Thursday 9 September at the Eden Arena Prague 17:30
The match officials are from Estonia Referee : Reelika Turi, Assistants : Anni Rahula and Anni Koppel and Fourth Official Triinu Loas
I expect the match to be shown on the Arsenal Player (access through arsenal.com), however at the moment (Wednesday 17:00) it is only shown as an audio feed but I’m hopeful that will change).
Following the magnificent game against Chelsea last Sunday and another this coming Sunday, I would expect a degree of rotation for this game. Qualification requires us not to lose by three goals or more so there is some scope.
I would expect Lydia Williams to get the nod in goal, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Boye Sorensen at CB. Teyah Goldie and Anna Patten at full back. Midfield is an area where we are currently short as I don’t expect Jordan Nobbs to be fit yet so it will likely be Little, Maanum and Wälti again. Forwards probably McCabe, Foord and Iwabuchi. This would mean a starting lineup of:-
Goldie, Wubben-Moy, Boye Sorensen, Patten
Little, Maanum, Wälti
McCabe, Foord, Iwabuchi
Qualification will see us in Monday’s draw for the four groups forming the last 16. The top four teams last year – Champions Barcelona, and Chelsea, PSG and Bayern Munich are the seeded teams so we are bound to get at least one of the really top European teams. In the other second round games the current state of play is:
- Glasgow City (SCO) v Servette (SUI) 1 – 1; 1 – 2 (2 – 3 on aggregate)
- Lyon (FRA) v Levante (ESP) 2 – 1
- HB Køge (DEN) v Sparta Prague (CZE) 1 – 0
- Hoffenheim (GER) v Rosengãrd (SWE) 3 – 0
- Bordeaux (FRA) v Wolfsburg (GER) 2 – 3
- Häcken (SWE) v Vãlerenga (NOR) 3 – 1
- Man City v Real Madrid (ESP) 1 – 1
- Karkhiv (UKR) v Apollon (CYP) 2 – 1
- Breidablik (ISL) v Osijek (CRO) 1 – 1
- Benfica (POR) v Twente NED) 1 – 1
- Juventus (ITA) v Vllaznia (ALB) 2 – 0
I would rather not be in a group with Man City or Lyon. Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg are good teams that would cause us some problems, the rest I would fancy us to beat. The games will be played on a home and away basis with the top two in each group progressing to quarter finals in March next year.
And just in case you missed the Chelsea game here it is
- Arsenal v Chelsea (Women) the match report
- Arsenal women beat the Champions in a really exciting match
- Arsenal transfers: Gnabry return, White a disaster, Martinez a loss?
- Why do journalists get so fixated on scoring in double figures?
- Buying players does not mean success as last season shows…
- All change with PGMO and the refs.. But what change?
- The last five years proves one big thing: nothing is guaranteed.