by Andrew Crawshaw
You will recall that in my piece earlier in the week about returning and new players I said that I was sceptical about the club signing 29 year old Canadian Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo. Well yesterday’s official announcement from the club was that she has joined and will wear the 14 shirt. I also expressed doubt about us signing her fellow compatriot Cloé Lacasse; this is probably also about to happen.
Our present No1 goalkeeper Manuella Zinsberger has her contract expiring in summer so it is possible that Sabrina’s signing is a case of early recruitment (or at least a solid insurance policy) in case Manu decides to leave the UK at the end of the season. Her fiancé doesn’t live in the UK so there could well be personal reasons for her having a change of scenery at the end of the season.
Sabrina is a welcome addition to the squad and will possibly be on the bench on Sunday to get a taste of the atmosphere and a close look at the speed of the game. realistically the earliest she is likely to start will be in the cup tie against Leeds at the end of the month.
Anyway on to this weekend’s game. Here is a reminder of the current WSL league table:-
So the game is a real six pointer, first versus second in the table, Chelsea ahead by virtue of having played an extra game. Truthfully this year I think that the title will depend on the results in the head to head scores between the two clubs. Whoever gets the bulk of the six points available in the two matches will almost certainly win the league.
Manchester City are too far adrift in fourth place to have a realistic chance of winning and Manchester United will have to win their second game against us and also beat Chelsea to win the title. Were both Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema I would really fancy our chances of the title this year, without them for the rest of the season I must say it is advantage Chelsea.
The game is at the Emirates Stadium and over 40,000 tickets have been sold for the third time this season so congratulations to the Club and to all supporters for that fantastic achievement. I’m suffering with a bad back so won’t be in the ground but as the game is Live on Sky Sports will be sat in front of my TV at home. Kickoff is 12:00.
Likely starting 11. I’m going to go with our regular starters with the new arrivals on the bench
Manuella Zinsberger (GK)
Laura Wienroither, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, Steph Catley
Kim Little, Lia Wälti
Caitlin Foord, Frida Maanum, Katie McCabe
Kaylan Marckese (GK), Sabrina D’Angelo (GK), Noëlle Maritz, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie, Viktoria Pelova, Kathrine Kuhl, Gio Queiroz, Lina Hurtig, Teyah Goldie, Mana Iwabuchi.
In order to win this game we will have to be alert at the back as Chelsea have the greatest strength in depth and they can pick from Lauren James, Sam Kerr, and Guro Reiten – a forward lineup to drool over. For that reason, I think that Leah and Rafaelle will start at centre back with Lotte dropping to the bench. The only reason not to do that would be if there are any fitness issues with Kim Little.
Our best player in the past couple of games has been Frida Maanum. Her performance will be key to us having a realistic chance of winning the game. A similar performance to that she produced against Zurich will cause any team nightmares. I am keeping my fingers crossed that that happens.
The other WSL matches this weekend are
Saturday Aston Villa 2 – Tottenham 1 – a 28th minute goal from Tottenham’s new signing (from Chelsea) Bethany England was cancelled out by strikes from Kenza Dali (assisted by Jordan Nobbs) and Rachel Daly. All three goals coming in a 10-minute spell in the first half.
Sunday 13:00 – Everton v Reading – Everton have four wins so far to Reading’s two and also have a much better goal difference. Whilst neither team are prolific, I’ll go for 2 – 1 to Everton.
Sunday 14:05 – Manchester United v Liverpool – It will be a big surprise to me if this doesn’t end up as a comfortable win for United who will be looking for 3 points to keep up pressure on ourselves and Chelsea who must drop points between them.
Sunday 15:00- Leicester City v Brighton – Another six-pointer, this time between the bottom two teams. If Leicester are to have any hope of avoiding relegation at the end of the season this is one that they really can’t lose. Both teams are conceding about three goals a game but Brighton score an average of just over one. Leicester have only scored two all season! I can’t see Leicester getting anything unless they have achieved something pretty miraculous during the winter break. 2 – 0 to Brighton
Sunday 18:45 – West Ham v Manchester City – A quick look at the league table might lead you to believe that this could be a close game. In reality, City seem to have overcome their early season wobbles, their form over the last five matches is four wins and a draw. West Ham have three losses and two wins in their last five and, I think, this match will probably end with a comfortable City win by 2 – 0 (or more).
Arsenal Women: Second half reinforcements
- Arsenal has let in one more goal than at this stage last season, and that’s a disaster
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t