Update: For the second straight week, severe storms have caused an Arsenal Women postponement. The 5th round FA Cup tie against Lewes will now be played next week, with the decision having been made early on Sunday morning given the anticipated forecast, with Storm Dennis battering England and Wales, with six severe flood alerts still active.
The tie will now be played next Sunday. Arsenal’s WSL match against Reading, scheduled for next week, will now be postponed. Given Arsenal’s injury list, postponement isn’t the worst thing.
Arsenal Women return to knockout football as they face Lewes in the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup. With the Continental Cup final in two weeks, and the Gunners third in the FA WSL, three points off of Manchester City, cup football is the best chance of Arsenal winning something this season, with the chances of catching both Chelsea and Manchester City slim. Lewes, who are 8th in the FA Women’s Championship, the second division, should offer Arsenal a much needed chance to rest first-team players, as Arsenal are facing a heavy injury crisis.
Kim Little had surgery on a foot problem, and Lia Wälti has a hamstring injury; neither have a date of return. Beth Mead was carried off with a knee injury on Thursday, with Joe Montemurro’s initial prognosis being that “it didn’t look good.” Katrine Veje remains out, as does Danielle Carter, who is unlikely to play this season, having suffered an ACL tear in August. Katie McCabe picked up a knock against Liverpool, but played almost the full 90 minutes, while Vivianne Miedema is playing through a sore back. Caitlin Foord arrived in England today, so is highly unlikely to be involved. Jill Roord has returned from suspension, and Jen Beattie made her comeback after a calf problem. Goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger, who has become first choice, has a small hip issue, meaning Pauline Peyraud-Magnin is likely to continue in goal. Fielding a starting XI may actually be an issue for Joe Montemurro.
Luckily, Lewes are beatable opposition, with Arsenal having beaten them 9-0 in last season’s Continental Cup. Lewes have lost seven of their last eight games in the Championship, and progressed to the 5th round having beaten Billericay Town, of the 4th tier. Lewes are a fascinating club: they pay their men and women equally—Katie Rood, who plays for New Zealand, is one of the few women’s footballers in the world who can claim to be paid equally by both her club team and national team—but beyond that, split marketing costs equally between their men and women’s teams, and have seen crowds quadruple.
Player to Watch: One of the senior ones
Arsenal are going to be forced to play members of their Academy team, with Ruby Grant, Mel Filis and potentially 16-year old Ruby Mace, who has been on the bench in recent weeks, all starting. With an inexperienced side, it’ll be on the senior players starting, such as Danïelle van de Donk, Jill Roord, and Lisa Evans, to lead the way. Arsenal have struggled at times this season without Vivianne Miedema leading the line, but Miedema should really only be utilized if Arsenal are in a dire situation. Jill Roord has filled in for Miedema at times this season, and may reprise the role as a false 9, with Evans and Van de Donk popping up in central positions, as well as Grant and Filis, who have both scored hat tricks for Arsenal in cup competitions.
Predicted XI: Peyraud-Magnin; Maier, Quinn, Beattie, Schnaderbeck; Williamson, Grant, Van de Donk; Evans, Roord, Filis
Subs: Zinsberger, Nobbs, Miedema, McCabe, Mace
Arsenal Women vs Lewes
The FA Women’s Cup, Sunday, February 16, 2020
KO: 1 PM GMT/8 AM EST/5 AM PST
TV: BBC Red Button (UK)
Stream: FAPlayer.TV, BBC iPlayer (UK)