Arsenal will have no time to lick their wounds after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City, with the Gunners making the short trip to Kingsmeadow to play Chelsea. Arsenal are on a wretched run of form, having taken 8 points from their last 7 games. It leaves Arsenal 9 points back of leaders Chelsea, who suffered a loss of their own on Sunday, with Brighton ending a 33-game unbeaten streak. The gap between first and fourth means that Arsenal’s title chances are essentially over, leaving them the task of trying to haul in Manchester City and Manchester United for the final Champions League place. For Arsenal to finish in the Champions League place, they’ll have to at least beat Manchester United, and they could make things a lot easier for themselves by getting a result against Chelsea.
The problem there, though, is that Arsenal have not gotten results against Chelsea. Arsenal’s struggles in big games are well known, having not won a single tie in thirteen months, but the Gunners haven’t beaten Chelsea since October 2018. Since then, Arsenal have played Chelsea seven times in all competitions, losing six times, and drawing once, earlier this season. Chelsea have scored eighteen goals in those seven games to Arsenal’s six. It is an awful run of form, and Arsenal routinely struggle with Chelsea’s press.
Chelsea were undone by two set pieces against Brighton but they were, in truth, probably a little unlucky. Chelsea had 31 shots to Brighton’s 4, and Brighton’s winner was a corner that went straight in. Chelsea have been pretty much faultless at home, with their other dropped points coming away, at Arsenal, and at Manchester United. At Kingsmeadow, they have beaten Manchester United and Manchester City, and Emma Hayes has plenty of attacking options to call upon, and a variety of formations. Having not started Fran Kirby against Brighton, Hayes will probably bring Kirby back to the starting lineup, and the England international has struck up a fantastic partnership with Sam Kerr, who is second to Vivianne Miedema in goals, with 10 to Miedema’s 12.
Arsenal will miss Steph Catley and Viki Schnaderbeck, who are out with long-term injuries. Arsenal will also not have Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs, or Jen Beattie available, who all picked up muscle injuries in training—something that has continued to plague Arsenal despite Joe Montemurro’s internal review earlier this season.
Player to watch: Danïelle van de Donk
With Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs both injured, Danïelle van de Donk is certain to start in midfield. Indeed, with Jill Roord taking on a role that is more of a second striker in, Van de Donk will be Arsenal’s chief attacking passer in midfield. It’s a role she struggled with on Sunday; Van de Donk only completed 22 passes, with only one progression, as Arsenal struggled to combat Manchester City’s press. The Gunners’ best chances came when they pressed high and played in transition, which allowed their players to pass from higher positions. In truth, it has not been a great season for Van de Donk, who has only started 6 games, and has seen her shot creation and shooting decline. It’s a rare position for a player who was on the bench only once in each of the previous two seasons, but with the keys to Arsenal’s midfield for at least the next two games, she has a chance to turn her season around.
Predicted XI: 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 15. McCabe; 13. Wälti, 14. Roord, 7. Van de Donk; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 24. Stenson, 4. Patten, 17. Evans, 20. Maier, 21. Gut
WHAT: Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Kingsmeadow, London
WHEN: Wednesday, February 10th 11:00 AM PST | 2:00 PM EST | 7:00 PM GMT
WATCH: NBC Live Extra, atafootball.com (US, streaming), FAPlayer.TV (RoW, streaming)