Why, hello there round of 16, we meet again. For the fifth straight time to be exact, and Arsenal will be looking for their fifth straight quarterfinals appearance. And if we really want to be technical, and let's be honest...WE DO, it would be their 12th straight quarterfinal in a major UEFA Women's Club Tournament. To get there, they'll have to beat Glasgow City.
As one of just three teams left in the tournament from the qualifying round, City has seen quite a bit of action in this year's edition of the tournament. What exactly is qualifying you ask? Well check out this lovely post and then return. There will be a quiz.
Ok I lied, no quiz. Regardless, I do hope you are now more informed on the UWCL. But to return to our main topic, Glasgow City now beckons. Actually, at one point it seemed that they could have been an opponent of Arsenal much earlier than this. Not in UWCL, but in the English women's football league Arsenal calls home, the FA WSL. City was in conversations to join the league, but the FA had a bit of a problem with that move.
Thus, Glasgow City once again competed in the Scottish Women's Premiere League, where they've been pretty dominant over the past few seasons. Winners of the league for the past seven years, and eight times total, City has had quite the stranglehold on the SWPL. However, Champions League hasn't been as great for Glasgow.City advanced past the qualifying round for the first time ever just two years ago in the 2011-2012 edition of the tournament. They made a nice run to the round of 16 where they got trounced by Turbine Potsdam 17-0 on aggregate, ouch. Last year was, in a sense, kinder to Glasgow City, advancing out of the qualifying round once again, only to lose a hearbreaking tie to Fortuna Hjørring, 2-1 on aggregate.
Enough background info, let's get into what exactly Arsenal will be up against this year. Glasgow City is home to two top quality midfielders: Suzanne Lappin and Jessica Fishlock. Lappin started playing for City when she was just 17 and was with the club from 2003-2011. She's now returned to the club after a two year stint in the aforementioned FA WSL. Lappin is actually the all time leading goal scorer for Glasgow City, and scored two goals in their round of 32 matchup with Standard.
No goals for Fishlock. But for any that watch the American women's league, the NWSL, you'll know she doesn't need to score to impact a game. Fishlock is an incredibly aggressive player that brings a lot of energy to the game for the full 90. She just recently injured her wrist, but will be playing in a cast.
Going up against two great midfielders means Arsenal will need to make sure they don't get caught on the counter, which is something they tend to struggle with on occasion. The matchup between Kim Little and Fishlock will definitely be fun to keep track of, and Jordan Nobbs will need to be looking to release Ellen White behind the defensive line with some nice passes. That being said, our girl Ellen will need to finish. White often separates herself from defenders with excellent positioning, but on occasion can miss a goal she should have finished.
Obviously Glasgow City's defensive line will be much better than Kairat, so when Arsenal does get those chances they will need to take advantage of them. Perhaps look for youngster Danielle Carter to make an impact off the bench if White or Rachel Yankey just aren't getting it done. Carter had five goals in their two round of 32 games, good enough to be tied for the team lead, and seems to be in great form currently.
Defensively, if Arsenal can win the battle of the midfield (that Little vs Fishlock matchup I talked about earlier), then there shouldn't be much pressure on the back line. No need for them to continuously bail the team out or for Byrne to make game saving plays every time Glasgow is able to get out on a break.
I've got Arsenal winning this 4-2 on aggregate. Heading into this matchup, some people have Arsenal on upset alert, but I think they come into this fired up. In order to be in next year's competition, Arsenal has to win the whole thing and they know what they need to do.