Arsenal Women kick off the first of two games against Manchester City in the Continental League Cup semi-finals. The match is a repeat of the last two finals, and Arsenal and Manchester City are the only winners of the competition, with Arsenal winning in 2018 and Manchester City winning in 2019. The two teams play again in Manchester in the WSL on Sunday in what will be Nick Cushing’s final game as City boss.
Both teams are coming off of Cup wins: Arsenal beat West Ham 2-0, and Manchester City held on to win 3-2 against Manchester United. City have been in good form this season, although they have lost against Chelsea and Arsenal, both away from home. They have won their last four in the league since losing to Chelsea, and are a much freeing scoring side than they were last season.
One big change Manchester City have made is switching to a more-attack minded 442. When City last came to Boreham Wood, Ellen White and Pauline Bremer were both on the bench, and Janine Beckie started upfront as City played 4231, and played very deep. More recently, City have played with a front two of White and Bremer, both of whom have been very good, with Jill Scott nominally on the right hand side, tucking in to create a midfield three and allowing City to play a very attacking right back—Beckie in recent league games, and a number 10, Georgia Stanway, in the Cup game at the weekend. Caroline Weir and Keira Walsh have held things together in midfield, spraying the ball around, and Lauren Hemp has been excellent on the left. After somewhat underachieving, City have come alive in recent weeks.
However, games between the two tend to be tight: Arsenal’s last four wins against Manchester City have all been by a solitary goal, and the last Continental Cup was a 0-0 draw that City won on penalties. The two match-up well, especially in midfield.
Arsenal are still without Katrine Veje and Dan Carter, and Caitlin Foord, who is on international duty, won’t join the Arsenal team until the middle of February. Jordan Nobbs and Jen Beattie could both feature. With both games against Manchester City effectively cup ties, expect Arsenal to name a strong side on Wednesday, with perhaps one or two changes with an eye for Sunday, especially as Joe Montemurro doesn’t make whole-scale changes to his team.
Player to Watch: Katie McCabe
McCabe has been a regular feature from left back this season, and scored on the weekend against West Ham. One reason McCabe plays at left back is because of her versatility, quality on the ball, and attacking prowess. With Manchester City lacking a natural right back—Aofie Mannion is out with an ACL injury, which has necessitated Gemma Bonner moving to centre back and Nick Cushing not keen on Matilde—they have played an attacking player there. That could open up space down the left for Arsenal, where Vivianne Miedema drifts, McCabe pushes up, and can combine with the left sided player, either Beth Mead or Danïelle van de Donk.
Peyraud-Magnin; Maier, Williamson, Schnaderbeck, McCabe; Wälti, Little, Roord; Evans, Miedema, Van de Donk
Subs: Zinsberger, Quinn, Nobbs, Grant, Filis, Mead
Arsenal v Manchester City
FA Women’s Continental League Cup
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
KO: 7 PM GMT/2 PM EST/11 AM EST