Update: The match between Arsenal Women and Tottenham has been postponed, out of concern for supporter safety. With Storm Ciara hitting the United Kingdom today, areas of the country have seen hurricane-strength winds, making travel difficult. All WSL fixtures were called off.
Our @BarclaysFAWSL clash with Tottenham today has been postponed due to extreme weather conditions— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) February 9, 2020
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Arsenal Women will have a home North London Derby for the first time in the FA WSL, in front of a sold out Meadow Park. In November, Arsenal beat Tottenham 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Cheese Room Toilet Bowl, and the Gunners will be looking to ensure that North London remains red. Indeed, while the derby itself is only just really coming into its own, Arsenal, after two successive losses in the WSL absolutely need to win. While the league title is out of the Gunners’ hands, that City and Chelsea play each other at the end of the month means that a Champions League place, which is for the teams that finish in the top 2, is still up for grabs.
The last two times Arsenal have played Spurs at Meadow Park haven’t been competitive encounters. In the summer, in a friendly, Arsenal won 6-0, and in January 2017, in the Women’s FA Cup, Arsenal won 10-0. But Tottenham showed in November that they are a different proposition, and spent a good portion of the match not only frustrating Arsenal, but offering a real threat on the counter attack, with Kit Graham and Rianna Dean both having very good chances. Playing two upfront also meant that Spurs frustrated Arsenal’s ability to build through the middle, with the front two cutting off Leah Williamson and sitting very tight on Lia Wälti. With Gemma Davison fit—she wasn’t in November—Tottenham have another attacking threat.
Arsenal come into the match not only on the back of two losses, but with selection concerns. Jill Roord is suspended, having picked up a fifth yellow card of the season last week. Kim Little and Wälti both missed out on last week’s match with Manchester City because of what Joe Montemurro described as fatigue accumulation. There was some hope that they could be ready to play against Spurs, but there is a strong possibility that neither will feature.
Katrine Veje is still out, and Caitlin Foord, who scored a hat trick in Australia’s 7-0 win over Taiwan, is on international duty until the end of next week. Jen Beattie could return, and Arsenal’s number issues in midfield could see Leah Williamson play defensive midfield. There could also be the possibility that Montemurro changes shape, especially as Spurs’ full-backs are going to be more defensive; Ashleigh Neville, on the right, tucks in as a third centre back, and with Emma Mitchell ineligible against her parent club, Ria Percival could push out to left back, as she did in November.
Player to Watch: Danïelle van de Donk
Arsenal have lacked a touch of quality and calmness in the final third in recent matches, underperforming their xG last time out against Manchester City, and, more generally, lacking a ruthless touch, meaning games have been tighter than necessary. Montemurro spoke about that specifically against Manchester City, saying, “Maybe we lacked a bit of patience in the final third. We got there and we had opportunities, but the important thing is finishing those moves off and we didn’t do that today.”
Danïelle van de Donk scored Arsenal’s goal against City, and really should’ve scored a second, with her shot denied by an Ellie Roeback save and a Demi Stokes clearance. With Arsenal potentially missing both Roord and Little, Van de Donk will likely play in a central role with Jordan Nobbs, rather than a wider position. From a central position, Van de Donk can reprise her role with the Netherlands, where, as the #10, she links play in the final third while also setting up chances for their front three, including Vivianne Miedema.
Van de Donk has scored 5 in the league and 11 in all competitions, and possesses the craft and quality not only to create good chances for others, but to also pick the right pass in the final third.
Predicted XI: Zinsberger; Maier, Schnaderbeck, Beattie, McCabe; Williamson; Nobbs, Van de Donk; Evans, Miedema, Mead
Arsenal Women v Tottenham Women
Sunday, February 9, 2020
KO: 6 AM PST/9 AM EST/2 PM GMT
Stream: FAPlayer.TV, BBC iPlayer (UK)