by Andrew Crawshaw
After a chastening defeat against Manchester United last Saturday we resume our Champions League group matches on Thursday evening against Juventus who are coached by our old friend Joe Montemurro.
Our already thin squad was depleted further on Saturday as Beth Mead was substituted in the closing minutes following a final terrible challenge which, as usual, went unpunished.
Scans confirmed everyone’s worst fears, a ruptured ACL meaning that she is now out for the rest of the season and will probably also miss next summer’s World Cup. A devastating blow both to her and the club. We shouldn’t forget that she only missed out on the Balon D’Or prize for the best female player by a single vote as well as being given the player of the tournament and golden Boot awards at the Euros last summer and being voted England’s player of the year.
This season she has been the target of numerous overly physical challenges in every domestic game she has played without any protection from referees, something I hope the club will raise in the strongest possible terms with the WSL and the PGMO who provide the refereeing staff. Rant over.
So we travel to Italy missing four of the best players in the world as we’ll as a number of other players
- Our Captain, Kim Little is out with a knee injury and is unlikely to be available for a few weeks yet.
- The Lionesses captain Leah Williamson, is also still out following her injury with the England squad in September. She is now running on the pitch in a straight line and is also unavailable for the next few weeks
- Brazilian Captain and fellow centre back Rafaelle Souza is still out following a broken Metatarsal in the CL Qualifier against Ajax. Another foul challenge following a similar one in the WSL in the previous game. She is unlikely to be available before the New Tear
- Beth Mead, see above
- Lina Hurtig muscular injury, not yet match fit and unlikely to travel
- Teyah Goldie, a young backup centre back has been out all season with an ACL, there is no news as to a return date for her
There are no obvious replacements for these players other than the youngsters who have been filling seats on the bench for the past few games. The only available fit senior players not already getting regular game time are Centre Back Jen Beattie and Mana Iwabuchi, our diminutive Japanese midfielder, who doesn’t seem to be rated by Jonas Eidevall.
We have Gio Querioz a young Brazilian forward on loan at Everton, whilst technically a season long arrangement it would be surprising if she weren’t recalled at the start of the January transfer window. It is also probable that we will be active in the transfer market to bring in reinforcements but with the differing seasons internationally that may not be possible.
Jen has masses of experience but sadly is too often beaten for pace these days. She could however be asked to fill in at CB and free Steph Catley to return to her more natural full back role. Jonas might even consider moving to a back three giving Katie McCabe and Laura Wienroither wing back roles with Noelle Maritz able to spell either of them as necessary
In the more advanced wide forward role, 17-year-old Michelle Agyemang is one option as she has been given minutes off the bench ahead of Mana in recent games but it will be a big ask to expect her to fill such a big void.
Juventus are sitting second in the Serie A Femminile having won 6 of their 9 matches. Roma are top with 8 wins. Juve have scored the most goals and thereby have the best goal difference.
This would have been a tough match with a fully fit squad but one which Arsenal would have been favourites to win. With our missing players I would rate Juventus as favourites and would quite happily settle for a draw pre kick-off.
GK – Manuella Zinsberger, Kaylan Marckese,
Defenders – Lotte Wubben-Moy, Steph Catley, Noelle Maritz, Katie Reid, Laura Wienroither, Katie McCabe
Midfielders – Lia Wälti, Jordan Nobbs, Frida Maanum, Mana Iwabuchi, Vivianne Miedema
Forwards – Stina Blackstenius, Caitlin Foord, Michelle Agyemang, Madison Earl (at 16 years old unlikely to be more than an emergency substitute)
Here is the current table
|4||FC Zurich Frauen||2||0||0||2||1||5||-4||0|
The real surprise so far is Olympic Lyonnais with only a single draw from their two games. They must be odds on favourites to win both of their matches against Zurich and with the top two in each group progressing it will be vital that we get some points from our two games against Juventus.
Our remaining group games are:-
07 December – Arsenal v Juventus – 20:00 at the Emirates (tickets on general sale from arsenal.com)
15 December – Arsenal v Olympique Lyonnais – 20:00 at the Emirates (tickets on general sale from arsenal.com)
21 December – FC Zurich Frauen v Arsenal – 17:45 in Switzerland.
All games are available to stream free of charge on the DAZN You-Tube channel.
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