Arsenal face Manchester United on Sunday in the WSL, in a match that will really show Arsenal’s title credentials. The Gunners dropped points in the WSL for the first time last weekend in a 1-1 draw with Spurs, and will need to bounce back with three points against Manchester United to maintain their lead at the top of the WSL.
Like Arsenal, Manchester United played midweek, but were able to rest a number of players as they beat Manchester City in the Continental Cup. Ella Toone, who signed a new contract earlier today, Katie Zelem, Leah Galton, and Alessia Russo all started on the bench, and will likely come into the lineup. Toone scored the winner in last year’s corresponding fixture, and has three goals and four assists this season, while Russo has also scored three times, including against both Chelsea, in a 6-1 loss, and Manchester City, in a 2-2 draw.
United enter the match 5th in the WSL, having finished a point off of Arsenal last season for the final Champions League place. In the summer, though, there was significant turnover: Casey Stoney left the club, Lauren James signed for Chelsea, Tobin Heath signed for Arsenal, and Christen Press returned to the NWSL, to become Angel City’s first ever player. United eventually hired Marc Skinner from Orlando Pride to become their manager, and Skinner has seen mixed results. United played well against both Tottenham and Everton in recent weeks before conceding late equalizers but also conceded 6 to Chelsea at home, as Skinner looks to implement his playing style. Chelsea managed to capitalize United being open on transitions, but with Arsenal starting to become known as a transition team, United might to look to press Arsenal more and deny them to ability to play as much transitional football.
Arsenal will be without Leah Williamson for the foreseeable future. There are further concerns for Simone Boye, who has withdrawn from the Denmark squad, and Tobin Heath and Mana Iwabuchi, both of whom were left out of Wednesday’s win against Køge. Jen Beattie, however, came through an hour against Køge, and will likely be called upon again with Williamson out.
Key player: Jordan Nobbs
With injuries mounting, especially to creative players like Mana Iwabuchi and Tobin Heath, Arsenal are going to need to get more from central midfield. They’ve gotten a lot from Kim Little this season, but one player who could really benefit from consistent playing time is Jordan Nobbs. Nobbs scored against Køge last week, and played the full 90 minutes against the Danish side on Wednesday. It has thus far been a start-stop campaign for Nobbs, who is back in the England team, but her dynamism and creativity, as well as off-ball-movement could give Arsenal greater presence in midfield, and better positioning when in possession.
Predicted XI: 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 7. Catley; 13. Wälti, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 8. Nobbs, 15. McCabe; 11. Miedema
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 4. Patten, 12. Maaum, 14. Parris, 19. Foord, 23. Iwabuchi, 29. Goldie, 33. Houssein
WHAT: Manchester United Women vs Arsenal Women, FA WSL
WHERE: Leigh Sports Village, Leigh
WHEN: Sunday, November 21st 4:15 AM PST | 7:15 AM EST | 12:15 PM GMT