Fresh off of their 2-0 win over Manchester United, Arsenal Women play Tottenham on Saturday in the Women’s Super League. The match, taking place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the second straight season, will be the fourth North London Derby of the season. Arsenal are unbeaten in the previous three, beating Spurs 4-0 in the FA Cup and 6-1 in the league, before drawing 2-2 in the Continental Cup, before winning on penalties. With Arsenal firmly back in the race for the final Champions League spot, nothing but a win will do, as Arsenal seek to make it four wins in a row in the WSL.
Spurs, on the other hand, are winless in 6. Were it not for being awarded a 3-0 win because of Birmingham City’s inability to field a full team, Spurs would be on the edge of a relegation battle. As it is, they are eight points clear of West Ham, who are bottom, and with 17 points are very much securely in mid-table.
Spurs sacked their managerial team of Karen Hills and Juan Carlos Amorós shortly after the 2-2 draw with Arsenal in November, and appointed the then England assistant coach Rehanne Skinner to replace the two. Skinner’s impact was immediate: Spurs won Skinner’s first three games, which accounts for their only league wins of the season. In January, though, Alex Morgan returned to the United States, and though Morgan only scored two penalties, she remains Spurs joint—top scorer, which points at their problem this season: scoring. For example, the front three that Spurs started last week, of Rosella Ayanne, Angela Addison, and Rianna Dean have combined for three goals and one assist. Off the bench, Gemma Davison has added a goal and an assist, and Lucy Quinn has scored once, while Siri Worm’s free kicks can be dangerous.
Tottenham are a good defensive side: they’ve conceded the 7th fewest goals, and after the top 4, have the 5th best expected goals against record in the league. Aside from the 6-1 win earlier this season, none of the other recent matches between the two have been blowouts, and Spurs’ defensive organization means it can often take an exceptional goal, such as Jordan Nobbs’ goal earlier this season, to break the deadlock.
Beth Mead is suspended after last week’s red card. Viki Schnaderbeck and Steph Catley remain long-term absences, with the latter targeting an April return. Lisa Evans has been dealing with an Achilles issue, and will be out, but Leah Williamson will return to the squad, having suffered a dead leg last week. If she’s not fit enough to start, expect Lia Wälti to deputise at centre back again.
Player to watch: Katie McCabe
Katie McCabe is tied with Chloe Kelly for the most assists in the WSL, with 10 each. Although this is no form of a tiebreaker, that McCabe is doing so from left back is all the more impressive, and while McCabe gets a decent number of assists from dead ball situations, such as Lotte Wubben-Moy’s goal last week, she has also been a consistent threat on the overlap from left back.
Arsenal’s left-sided player, be it Jordan Nobbs or Caitlin Foord, usually is drawn to the inside, creating space for McCabe. Nobbs plays more as a number 10, while Foord usually becomes a second striker. But with Mead suspended, Foord will likely play from the right and Nobbs from the left, meaning Arsenal will be more dependent width coming from McCabe.
Predicted XI: 18. Williams; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 15. McCabe; 13. Wälti, 10. Little; 9. Foord, 14. Roord, 8. Nobbs; 11. Miedema
Substitutes: 1. Zinsberger, 24. Stenson, 4. Patten, 7. Van de Donk, 20. Maier, 21. Gut
WHAT: Tottenham Hotspur Women vs Arsenal Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Tottenham
WHEN: Saturday, March 27th 8:30 AM PDT | 11:30 AM EDT | 3:30 PM GMT
WATCH: NBCSN (TV, US), NBC Sports Live Extra (streaming, US), ATAFootball.com (streaming, US), FAPlayer (streaming, UK)