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The Arsenal Women Weekender

All the news and information you need to know for Arsenal Women this weekend

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Arsenal Women v Bristol City Women - FA WSL Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

Welcome to the first round-up of Arsenal Women news, as part of our effort to ensure we cover all senior teams at the club. Arsenal Women play Birmingham City this weekend, and here is the news you need to know ahead of time.

Samuelsson leaves club

Jess Samuelsson has left the club with immediate effect to join Swedish side Rosengard. Samuelsson only recently returned to full fitness, with the Swedish fullback having re-injured her foot in the autumn.

Samuelsson suffered two ligament injuries to her foot, and only made 10 appearances for the Gunners over two seasons. The Swedish season starts in the middle of April—the same weekend as the NWSL.

McCabe and Van de Donk Extend

Katie McCabe, the Ireland captain, and Danielle van de Donk, the Dutch midfielder, have both signed long-term contract extension. McCabe’s versatility—she has played as a left back, a left wing-back, a left and right winger and a central midfielder this season—has been crucial for Arsenal, both in terms of manager Joe Montemurro’s style of play, but also as Arsenal have battled a lengthy injury list. McCabe has played the most games of any Arsenal player this season, scoring 8 and assisting 11 in 25 games, and hailed the influence of Montemurro: “Speaking to Joe and hearing that he wanted to keep me for that bit longer was a great feeling. Joe’s been great for me personally and he’s really helped me to grow as a player. He’s put a lot of confidence in me and really helped me to develop.”

Van de Donk has also made great strides this season, especially in the period after Arsenal lost Jordan Nobbs. With Kim Little only recently coming back into form, the midfielder was crucial for supporting Vivianne Miedema, and giving Arsenal’s midfield some forward thrust. Van de Donk is Arsenal’s second top-scorer with 10 goals in the league, having scored 12 in all competitions.

Barclays Sponsorship

Barclays, which famously was a long-term sponsor of the Premier League, was unveiled as the FA WSL’s first title sponsor. The league will be renamed as the Barclays FA Women’s Super League beginning next season, and will see a multi-million pound sponsorship, with investment into the women’s game in England. The FA WSL is in its first season of full professionalization, with every team in the league having to be full-time. The sponsorship will include £500k of prize money, to be distributed based on final league position.

Gunners face Birmingham test

With just four matches left, and a tight title race, every match for Arsenal is effectively a cup final.

After beating Liverpool 5-1 last weekend, Arsenal face Birmingham City Women at Damson Park. Birmingham, fourth in the league, gave Arsenal a tough test in the WSL Cup quarter-final, with the Gunners scoring two late goals to come from behind and win 2-1. In the league, Arsenal won 3-1 at home, scoring all three goals in the second half, with the now-injured Jordan Nobbs scoring two. Birmingham are a well organized side, and beat Arsenal 3-0 in this fixture last season. Results, though, have fallen away since manager Marc Skinner left for the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, with the club losing three of their last five—albeit with four of their last five being away from home. Birmingham feature former Arsenal striker Ellen White up front, and another England international, Lucy Staniforth. White has scored twice in the league this season, having only played 198 minutes, but has scored in three of her last five games in all competitions; twice for Birmingham, and once for England, in the SheBelieves Cup.

Arsenal need just one more win to seal qualification for next season’s Champions League, and three more wins will give the Gunners their first title since 2012. The match is on Sunday, at 12:30 PM GMT/7:30 AM EDT/4:30 AM PDT, and is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.

Arseblog News Interviews Dan Carter

Tim Stillman, who covers Arsenal Women for Arseblog News, had an excellent interview with Dan Carter, who is returning from an ACL injury. In the interview, Stillman discussed Carter’s comeback, and her community work.

Nobbs: ACL injury has been my toughest challenge - but I know I will overcome it

In the Telegraph Jordan Nobbs, out for the season with an ACL injury, wrote about the challenge of having the injury, remaining connected with England in the run-up to this summer’s World Cup (that Nobbs will miss), and how the knee is on her mind 24/7.

What does he think about this concept of inviting the best girls to train alongside the best boys? Lucassen is almost more interested in the notion of why that is a question rather than the question itself.

Amy Lawrence went to Hale End, and saw two girls join in with Arsenal’s U-12 boys. Marcel Lucassen, the head of coach and player development, said, “They are looking at each other for five minutes and then it is normal. What is very good to see is for them it is no difference. It is more a difference for some grown-ups.”