Arsenal have a chance to respond to their disappointing defeat against Manchester City immediately, with the visit of Bristol City in the Women’s Super League. The last time these two met, Vivianne Miedema scored six goals and assisted four, as Arsenal set the record margin of victory in the WSL, winning 11-1.
Expecting Arsenal to repeat that may be too big of an ask, but with Bristol having already lost 4-0 to Everton and 9-0 to Chelsea, Arsenal will be expected to win, and to win by a large margin. While that won’t address any of the questions that are beginning to circulate about Joe Montemurro’s team following five losses to Chelsea, Manchester City, and PSG in the calendar year of 2020, Arsenal now are in a position where they can only beat the teams in front of them.
Having already conceded 13 goals in the WSL this season, Bristol are one of the favorites to go down. Their fate, though, will likely be decided in games against the other teams in the bottom half—Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Where they can help themselves is by becoming harder to break down. Bristol have the lowest successful pressure rate in the WSL this season, the fewest tackles and interceptions, and have given up 48 shots across two games.
Arsenal are in the beginnings of having another injury crisis. Lisa Evans picked up a knock against Tottenham, and Kim Little picked up a hamstring problem against Manchester City. They will join Jill Roord (knee), Steph Catley (calf), and Lydia Williams (ankle), all of whom will be unavailable against Bristol. With Chelsea in the Continental Cup midweek, there will likely be plenty of rotation.
Player to Watch: Malin Gut
One player who might come into the team is Malin Gut. Gut was signed in the summer, and has come off the bench against Reading, West Ham, and Tottenham. Gut generally plays in a defensive midfield role, and is indeed Lia Wälti’s deputy at national team level. Over the international break, Wälti played in midfield with Gut, and was then deployed at centre back, as Gut was Switzerland’s sole number 6 against Belgium.
Lia Wälti wasn’t fit enough to play 90 minutes against Manchester City, and with tougher away games in the week ahead (Chelsea in the Continental Cup, Brighton in the WSL), utilizing Gut for her first start would make sense against Bristol. Without Wälti, or another number 6, Arsenal’s midfield struggled against both Manchester City and Tottenham. It significantly affected their ball progression, with the structure of the midfield far too open against City, limiting the passes that the wide players and fullbacks had, and forcing Arsenal to play backwards too often. It also affected Arsenal defensively. Getting Gut integrated into Arsenal’s system as a number 6 should be a priority for Montemurro given how dependent Arsenal’s system is on one.
Predicted lineup (4-3-3)
1. Zinsberger; 20. Maier, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 15. McCabe; 21. Gut, 8. Nobbs, 7. Van de Donk; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord
Substitutes: 24. Stenson (GK), 5. Beattie, 13. Wälti, 16. Maritz, 22. Schnaderbeck, 30. Mace
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Bristol City Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Sunday, October 4th 6:00 AM PDT | 9:00 AM EDT | 2:00 PM BST
TV: FA Player (streaming)