Arsenal Women: recent events and match preview
by Andrew Crawshaw
The transfer window for the WSL closed on Tuesday at the same time as it did for the PL. Arsenal were trying hard to sign a new striker and even tabled two world-record bids for Manchester United’s Alessia Russo bidding near on £0.5m for the player whose contract expires at the end of the season. United rebuffed those offers, as we did to a Chelsea offer for Katie McCabe.
What it does show is that mid-contract offers involving transfer fees are becoming more usual. A couple of years ago they were virtually unheard of. Contracts were usually for no more than two seasons and players changed clubs when they terminated. I wouldn’t be surprised if a club paid more than a million pounds for a player within the next season and a half.
The trouble is there are relatively few really top players in the world and they are increasingly gravitating to the top clubs. In England, that means, ourselves, Chelsea and the two Manchester sides. In France, Lyon and PSG and so on. There isn’t the same well-developed academy system as there is in the men’s game. Our youngsters can’t be offered professional contracts till they are 18, a year older than boys and they certainly don’t have anything like the same opportunity for truly competitive matches as their male counterparts. Enough of my rant.
We did sign a new goalkeeper, and two new midfielders and recalled our young Brazilian striker from her loan spell so we have greater strength in depth but no clear replacement for Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema.
This weekend’s WSL matches are:-
Saturday 11:30 – Leicester City v Manchester City. My prediction will be for a Manchester City win. Although Leicester won their last game those are the only points they have this season and Man City have a much stronger squad. City to win by three goals or more.
Post game update – Leicester 0 City 2 second-half goals from Kelly and Shaw
Saturday 12:30 – Aston Villa v Brighton. Villa are a good team and will probably prove far too strong at home for Brighton. Villa to win by at least 2 goals.
Post game update – game ended as a 1 – 1 draw, both scored by Brighton players Green with an own goal in the first half, Olme with a 74th-minute equaliser.
Sunday 12:00 – Man United v Everton. Everton Women are doing a lot better than their men having won 6 of their 11 matches so far. The trouble is they have lost the other five. They are averaging close to 1.5 goals a game whilst conceding 1. Man United are top of the table having won 9 and only lost 1. They are scoring nearly 3 goals a game and conceding just over 0.5. It will be a big surprise if United don’t win. Everton may well score but I expect United to run out winners by 2 clear goals or more.
Sunday 12:30 – Spurs v Chelsea. Chelsea will win this one very comfortably. I wouldn’t be at all surprised by a 5 or 6 goal margin. Chelsea have the strongest team in the division, Spurs are mid-table and there is a gulf between the two at the moment.
Sunday 14:00 – Liverpool v Reading. These two are 9th and 10th in the league with very similar records. Reading have scored three more goals but have conceded 5 more. This one looks like a 1 – 1 or 2 – 2 draw but is a game that both managers will be targeting a win to open some clear ground in the relegation battle.
Sunday 18:45 – West Ham v Arsenal. This will be one of my rare visits to an away game this season. The match is at the home of Dagenham and Redbridge and I will be with the noisy away crowd which should be fun.
I would expect some changes from the team that beat Leeds in the FA Cup last week, but Jonas will have one eye on Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final against Man City so maybe not quite a full-strength squad. We play City again the WSL next Sunday. Wednesday night to Sunday midday not giving either team much chance to recover (but I suppose it is the same for both teams).
I would expect the starting lineup to be
Manuella Zinsberger (GK)
Steph Catley, Rafaelle Souza, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Noelle Maritz
Frida Maanum, Kim Little, Leah Williamson
Caitlin Foord, Stina Blackstenius, Lina Hurtig
Sabrina D’Angelo (GK), Laura Wienroither, Jen Beattie, Teyah Goldie, Victoria Pelova, Kathrine Kühl, Katie McCabe, Gio Queiroz, Michelle Agyemang (16-year-old youth forward)
I have included Michelle Agyemang on the bench as she deserves it; she came on as a sub with 15 minutes to go in our 9 – 0 demolition of Leeds in the FA Cup and scored her first senior goal within 5 minutes. At one point one of the Leeds players tried a shoulder charge to nudge her off the ball and simply bounced off much to her surprise.
I would expect to see Victoria, Kathrine and Gio to get minutes if the game position allows.
Whilst this is clearly the easiest of our next three fixtures, it is one which we can’t afford to lose and is one where we should be looking to boost our goal difference so I can’t see us making too many changes from our strongest lineup but substitutions will probably be deployed relatively early to minimise risks before the two upcoming games against City.
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- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head