The quarterfinal stage of the 2019-20 season was supposed to take place six months ago. That, of course, did not happen because of lockdown, so now there is the somewhat bizarre prospect of two Women’s FA Cup finals during the timeframe of the 2020-21 season. But, before Arsenal can think about a possible final, there is a quarterfinal to get through, and a North London Derby to boot.
Arsenal come into the fixture on the back of two fairly comprehensive victories in the WSL. Spurs, meanwhile, have struggled to score early on in the campaign, with an own goal against West Ham their solo goal for the season. They’ll hope that Alex Morgan, who is eligible to play on Saturday, will bring additional firepower.
When the two met last season in the WSL, Tottenham defended well, and hurt Arsenal’s ability to build play through the middle, trying to mark Leah Williamson and Lia Wälti out of the game. Arsenal eventually broke through because of superior quality, but after wins of 10-0 and 6-0, a 2-0 win showed that the gap between the two teams is closing. In addition to Morgan, Spurs have made some decent signings over the summer, but Arsenal will expect to win ahead of a potential semi-final against Manchester City on Thursday.
Leah Williamson, who pulled out of England’s intra-squad game, should be fit to play according to Joe Montemurro. Jen Beattie has returned to training following a recurrence of a back injury, while Jill Roord will be out with a knee injury, with Tim Stillman reporting that the injury will keep her out for “weeks, not months.” Lottle Wubben-Moy has finished quarantine and returned from England duty, and is now taking part in training.
With potentially three games in a week, and potentially five games in two weeks, expect some rotation from Joe Montemurro, who had started the same lineup in the first two WSL games of the season.
Player to Watch: Kim Little
Kim Little was the player to break the deadlock when Arsenal last played Spurs, and she’s started the new campaign very well. Probably Arsenal’s best player in the 2-1 defeat to PSG, assisting Beth Mead’s goal, Little has scored in successive WSL games, while also setting a goal up for Jill Roord against Reading. With Roord now absent with injury, Arsenal will lean a little more on their captain. Little has a really strong dynamic with Vivianne Miedema, with an excellent understanding of space and movement, which enables Little to take advantage of the space that Miedema can open up. Little is consistently rated by her peers, with Steph Catley telling The Athletic, “I played with her in Melbourne when I was fairly young, so I’m not sure I got the full grasp of how good she is. She’s one of the most talented players I’ve ever played with.”
Predicted Lineup (4-3-3):
1. Zinsberger; 17. Evans, 6. Williamson, 22. Schnaderbeck, 12. Catley; 13. Wälti, 10. Little, 7. Van de Donk; 19. Foord, 11. Miedema, 8. Nobbs
Subs: 24. Stenson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 15. McCabe, 16. Maritz, 20. Maier, 21. Gut, 23. Mead, 30. Mace
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Tottenham Hotspur Women, Women’s FA Cup
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Saturday, September 26th 9:15 AM PDT | 12:15 PM EDT | 5:15 PM BST
TV: FA Player (streaming), BBC 2 (UK), BBC iPlayer (UK, streaming)