By Andrew Crawshaw
Our match in the WSL this weekend is away against Brighton. The game kicks off at 18:45 and is live on Sky Sports.
It will mark the half way point in the season for Arsenal in terms of number of matches played, although technically it is the first of the second half of the season. We played Brighton on the opening day of the season winning 4 – 0 at Borehamwood with goals from Kim Little (from the penalty spot) Stina Blackstenius and a brace from Beth Mead. there was also an early red card for Brighton’s Emma Kullberg who cynically brought down Blackstenius just inside the area when she was through on goal.
The game we haven’t yet played from the first half of the season is against Manchester City, we play them in Manchester on 11 February and at home on 2 April
Last weekend’s results didn’t go our way. We lead Chelsea until the 89th minute when they scored an equaliser and Manchester United thrashed Liverpool 6 – 0 to go above us on goal difference so we have dropped to third place in the table.
So 3 points behind Chelsea but with a game in hand (albeit against one of the top teams in Man City) and now a poorer goal difference to Man United. We need to start scoring more.
On the goalscoring front there is still no confirmation regarding a new striker coming in so for now at least we will need to rely on a frontline of Stina Blackstenius, Caitlin Foord and Katie McCabe/Lins Hurtig with support from Gio Queiroz from the bench. An extra striker is still much needed.
On Wednesday it was announced that midfielder Mana Iwabuchi had joined Spurs on loan for the remainder of the season. That frees up another slot for us to appoint an overseas player so I hope that one arrives quickly. The loan move makes sense from an Arsenal point of view; she won’t be eligible to play against us but will improve Spurs and hopefully they may be able to nick points off Chelsea and the two Manchester Clubs, although I think it a pretty forlorn hope.
In terms of a starting 11 I don’t think that we need look much beyond those who started against Chelsea, but against lower opposition and having had an extra week training with the first team the other new outfield players may well get some minutes from the bench.
I would expect the starting team to be:-
Manuella Zinsberger (GK)
Laura Wienroither, Rafaelle Souza, Leah Williamson, Steph Catley
Kim Little, Frida Maanum, Lia Wälti
Katie McCabe, Stina Blackstenius, Caitlin Foord.
Sabrina D’Angelo (GK), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie, Noëlle Maritz, Teyah Goldie, Victoria Pelova, Kathrine Møller Kühl, Gio Queiroz, Katie McCabe
This game should be a chance for us to improve our goal difference, Brighton lost last weekend to bottom team Leicester 3 – 0 and have the leakiest defence in the league conceding nearly 4 goals a game so we need to be looking to score a minimum of four and preferably five or six. It’s about time that Stina started putting away more of the chances she has been getting.
Both Chelsea and Man United have relatively easy matches which I expect them to win so improving goal difference is the name of the game for us this weekend.
The other WSL games this weekend are
Saturday 11:30 – Manchester City v Aston Villa Villa have strengthened their team with the signing of midfielder Jordan Nobbs and Centre forward Rachel Daly and looked a far better team last weekend when beating Spurs. Will this be enough to get points at City? Probably not but they will prove a stiff test for a City team who are trying to catch the top three. City to win by a single goal with both teams scoring. 2 – 1 or 3 – 2
Sunday 12:30 – Chelsea v Liverpool This should be an easy Chelsea win. They will want revenge for their only defeat so far this season a shock away to Liverpool on the opening day of the season (one of the only two wins so far for Liverpool who were promoted to the WSL at the start of the season) Chelsea to win by at least 4 goals.
Sunday 13:00 – Everton v West Ham Everton struck early last week against Reading and ended up hanging on for a 3 – 2 win. West Ham lost to Man City to the only goal of the game scored by Khadija Shaw in the 50th minute. This weekend’s game looks to me like a low scoring draw 1 – 1 or 2 – 2.
Sunday 14:00 – Reading v Man United – Reading have a -12 goal difference, United are on +26. I can’t see this being anything other than another easy win for United. United to win by 4 – 0 or more.
Sunday 14:00 – Spurs v Leicester – Leicester will come into this game with a degree of confidence after their 3 – 0 win last week against Brighton and an excellent midweek game in the League Cup where they pushed Man City all the way only losing in the 91st minute to the only goal of the game. Spurs really aren’t that good and there is a real chance of a shock in this match if Leicester continue to play in the same way. Probably a draw but a Leicester win wouldn’t entirely surprise me.
The final league table is likely to be decided by the results of the mini-league of the top four teams – here is a table with the results so far and the dates of the matches yet to be played (subject to being moved for TV). So far our record of P2, W0, D1, L1 isn’t good enough. Realistically we need to win at least three of the remaining 4 games and not lose any.
|Home team||Arsenal||Chelsea||Man United||Man City|
|Arsenal||D 1 – 1||2 – 3||2 April|
|Chelsea||21 May||12 March||2 – 0|
|Man United||23 April||1 – 3||21 May|
|Man City||11Feb||26 March||1 – 1|
All of the top four should win against the lower 7 teams in the division so scoring goals is important as the final table may well again be decided on goal difference.
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