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Arsenal Women vs. Gillingham: Match preview

The FA Cup is back, as Arsenal take on 3rd division side Gillingham

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Arsenal Women Training Session Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal resume the paused Women’s FA Cup tomorrow as they face Gillingham Women, of the FA Women’s National League South (the third tier) in the fourth round. The Women’s FA Cup was paused in January, when the UK government imposed a third national lockdown on England, resulting in the suspension of non-elite sport. That meant the Women’s FA Cup was suspended, as WSL and Women’s Championship clubs enter in the fourth round. The lockdown meant that tiers three to six were once again abandoned, as they were last season, but clubs have been able to compete in the Women’s FA Cup, which resumed earlier this month, following the relaxation of lockdown.

Since the resumption of the Cup, Gillingham have won both their matches: a 3-2 win over Crawley Town, and then, last weekend, a 2-1 win over Cheltenham Town in extra time. It’s no mean feat for a club that, in the summer of 2020, saw withdrawal of funding from the men’s Gillingham, who operate in League One. Gillingham Women have continued as an independent club.

The gap between the two sides alone should see Arsenal win comfortably. Arsenal beat Women’s Championship sides with ease in Cup competitions, and Gillingham are a division below that. There may be a degree of getting to grips with the opposition to start with, with a lack of knowledge of how Gillingham are likely to play given that they’ve played two games since October.

If Arsenal win, the Gunners would face Crystal Palace or London Bees on May 16th, which would be the last game under Joe Montemurro. Like last season’s FA Cup, the quarterfinals, semi-finals and final would take place next season.

Team news:

Arsenal are still without Lisa Evans (achilles) and Jen Beattie (hamstring), who will be providing commentary on Steph Catley, according to Joe Montemurro, is a week of full training away from being in the match-day squad. Noëlle Maritz has a bone bruise and will miss out, while Lia Wälti and Malin Gut will be in the squad, but will not start, having played 120 minutes on Tuesday in Switzerland’s penalty shoot-out win in the playoff for Euro 2022.

Player to watch:

Anna Patten re-signed for Arsenal in January, but has only started once, against Reading. Patten played 45 minutes in that game, and since has been used as a substitute, largely at right back, though she did partner fellow Academy graduate Lotte Wubben-Moy at centre back to see out Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Manchester United. Patten should get the start tomorrow, and will either play at centre back, likely with Wubben-Moy, or will deputise from right back. Although Patten doesn’t have an assist to her name yet, she’s shown herself to be an able crosser from right back, setting up a couple of goals in her 107 minutes of WSL action.

Predicted lineup (4-3-3): 1. Zinsberger; 4. Patten, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 20. Maier; 10. Little, 8. Nobbs, 14. Roord; 9. Mead, 19. Foord, 15. McCabe
Substitues: 18. Williams, 7. Van de Donk, 11. Miedema, 13. Wälti, 21. Gut, 29. Goldie

WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Gillingham Women, Women’s FA Cup

WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood

WHEN: Sunday, April 11th 6:00 AM PDT | 9:00 AM EDT | 2:00 PM BST

WATCH: (streaming)