Arsenal Women play their final game of 2020 tomorrow against Willie Kirk’s Everton. After Caroline Weir’s 93rd minute winner last week consigned Arsenal to another loss against title rivals, Arsenal simply must win to keep up with Chelsea and Manchester United, and to maintain their one point advantage over Manchester City. 5th placed Everton, who heavily invested over the summer, will represent a challenge. While Everton’s form has fallen away either side of the FA Cup final, having not won in the league since the middle of October, they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final, and are fresh off of a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the Continental Cup.
Everton lost Valerie Gauvin in the final, and lost Rikke Sevecke, but still have players that can hurt Arsenal. Izzy Christiansen has created the most chances in the WSL, Lucy Graham is Everton’s top scorer from midfield, with a good long-range shot, and Australian international Hayley Raso, who has adapted quickly to the WSL, brings abundant pace and energy from a wide position. Everton have used a 4231 system, but in recent weeks have moved to a diamond system, which could give Arsenal some difficulties, given Arsenal’s central issues that were present against Manchester City.
Lia Wälti should be back after concussion, while Lotte Wubben-Moy could also be back in concussion after missing the trip to Manchester City after illness. Noëlle Maritz has returned to Switzerland ahead of the winter break to continue rehab, while Viki Schanderbeck is still out.
Joe Montemurro will, then, have a number of options to make changes to his lineup. Montemurro utilized Danïelle van de Donk, Jordan Nobbs, Steph Catley, and Lisa Evans from the bench in last weekend’s defeat, and a number of those players could be in line for a start. Essentially, there is ample opportunity for Montemurro to address some of the issues of recent weeks.
Player to Watch: Vivianne Miedema
No matter the changes Montemurro makes behind her, Vivianne Miedema will be starting. Miedema, who was named in FIFA’s Best XI this past week, broke her WSL scoring drought of three games with the opener against Manchester City last week. Miedema has scored 6 goals against Everton, including two the last time the sides met, last December.
Against Manchester City, Arsenal struggled to get Miedema possession in dangerous areas. Provided Arsenal play on the front foot tomorrow, and Montemurro makes the adequate tactical and personnel decisions, Miedema should get the ball in more dangerous areas against Everton. Recently, Miedema has been switching with Caitlin Foord, with the latter taking up central positions as Miedema drops off. Miedema has that kind of connection with a number of Arsenal’s players: Jill Roord can take up central positions, as can Jordan Nobbs, and Miedema and Kim Little also have an existent partnership. The personnel behind Miedema will likely be somewhat different, but their task should be the same: get the WSL’s best goal creator and scorer into dangerous positions.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): 18. Williams; 17. Evans, 6. Williamson, 5. Beattie, 12. Catley; 13. Wälti, 10. Little, 8. Nobbs; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord
Substitues: 1. Zinsberger, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Van de Donk, 14. Roord, 15. McCabe, 20. Maier, 21. Gut, 24. Stenson, 30. Mace
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Everton Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Sunday, December 20th 4:30 AM PST | 7:30 AM EST | 12:30 PM GMT
WATCH: ATAFootball.com (US, streaming), BBC Red Button, iPlayer (UK)