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Arsenal Women vs Manchester City: WSL Match Preview

Think of it as like a second leg.

Arsenal v Manchester City - FA Women’s Continental League Cup: Semi-Final Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

Arsenal Women play Manchester City for the second time in five days, as the Gunners travel to the Academy Stadium in Manchester. Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 in Wednesday’s Continental Cup semi-final, and having lost to Chelsea in their last league match, must not lose against Manchester City to retain hope of winning the league again. With Chelsea a point behind Arsenal with a game in hand, even a draw might not be good enough, but a loss would all but certainly end Arsenal’s chances.

It is City boss Nick Cushing’s last game in charge of the club, with Cushing heading to New York to be the assistant at New York City FC in MLS. Cushing will be out for revenge for Wednesday’s loss, and will be hoping for a winning send-off.

On Wednesday, Arsenal had the better of the chances, and despite not playing as they perhaps would’ve liked, with Lia Wälti saying, “This wasn’t the style we usually want to play our football, but sometimes you’ve got to play for a result and to manage the game in the end.” In truth, that was somewhat down to the composition of Arsenal’s midfield: with Danïelle van de Donk and Jill Roord the number 8s, Arsenal’s midfield lacked some of its usual composure in deeper positions, with Van de Donk and Roord better higher up the pitch. On Sunday, Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little should return to the first team.

Arsenal have won their last three encounters with Manchester City, but all have been at Meadow Park. Last season, a depleted Arsenal lost 2-0 to Manchester City at the Academy Stadium, and lost 5-2 the season before that, under previous manager Pedro Martínez Losa.

The pattern of the game, though, should be typical of matchups between Arsenal and City. Games between the two tend to be tight, and although Arsenal have had the better of recent matchups, it is very much a new game, and while Wednesday’s result can give Arsenal a confidence boost, the Gunners will still need to put together a complete performance.

Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little’s return should help on that front, with Nobbs on the bench and Little rested completely on Wednesday. Katrine Veje and Danielle Carter remain out; Caitlin Foord, representing Australia, will not join until the middle of February, and Jen Beattie’s absence looks to continue. Expect Lisa Evans to drop to right back, with Lauren Hemp having given Leonie Maier a torrid time on Wednesday night.

Player to Watch: Vivianne Miedema

Miedema scored her first goal on Wednesday, ending a mini drought of [checks notes] five games. Wednesday’s goal was beautifully taken; receiving possession, Miedema faked Steph Houghton into going the wrong way, before firing across Ellie Roebuck into the right corner of the goal.

Manchester City played Georgia Stanway at right back on Wednesday. Their normal right back, Gemma Bonner, has moved to centre back, with Aofie Mannion out for the season with an ACL injury. Mathilde, an actual right back, has played once in the league, with the right back duties being taken up by Janine Beckie. Beckie is with the Canadian national team for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, with Cushing moving Stanway to right back in her absence. No matter who plays right back for City, it is likely Arsenal will target that side for overloads. A number of Arsenal’s chances were created down that channel on Wednesday night, and expect Arsenal to try the same again, utilizing the overlaps of Katie McCabe from left back and Miedema’s natural tendency to drift, particularly to the left hand side.

Predicted XI: Zinsberger; Evans, Williamson, Schnaderbeck, McCabe; Wälti, Little, Nobbs; Mead, Miedema, Van de Donk

Manchester City Women v Arsenal Women
Sunday, February 2, 2020
KO: 2 PM GMT/9 AM EST/6 AM PST
Stream: FAPlayer.TV