The Joe Montemurro Farewell Tour kicks off with Arsenal Women’s trip to Twerton Park to face Bristol City. Arsenal’s manager announced earlier this week that he would step down at season’s end, and Arsenal will hope he leaves having secured a Champions League berth, which Arsenal will do if they win their final five games. Bristol City, this season’s runners-up in the Continental Cup, have pulled themselves away from the the bottom spot in the WSL, having taken 9 points from their last 7 games. Arsenal, though, will expect to win, and should also expect to win quite handsomely, solidifying their goal difference advantage as they chase Manchester United down for the final Champions League spot.
Bristol City have found form under caretaker manager Matt Beard, who stepped in when Tanya Oxtoby went on maternity leave. Most notably, Bristol City beat Reading, and with Ebony Salmon, have the best striker outside the top 4. Sophie Baggaley is a solid goalkeeper, giving Bristol City the base upon which their survival charge is being built from. Yet while form has improved, they have still lost rather heavily to the WSL’s best teams. Chelsea beat Bristol City 5-0 at Twerton Park and 6-0 in the Conti Cup final, while Manchester City won 3-0. In the return meeting against Arsenal, a long-range effort from Abi Harrison gave Bristol City a shock 1-0 lead, but Arsenal were able to come back and take all three points. Beard will set his team up in a deep block 4141, with Salmon looking to cause trouble, hold the ball up, and then sprint in behind, with support from Molly Pike and Charlie Wellings.
Leah Williamson is likely to come back into the lineup, having made the bench for last week’s North London Derby. Beth Mead returns from suspension, but there is likely to be a place on the bench for 16-year old defender Teyah Goldie, with Jen Beattie, Viki Schnaderbeck and Steph Catley still absent. Lisa Evans is out for about 4 weeks with an Achilles problem.
Player to watch:
Vivianne Miedema has scored 12 goals against Bristol City in five games, including, of course, six in last season’s record-setting 11-1 win. Miedema assisted four in that game, and could get a chance to add to her five assists this season. Against Birmingham, Joe Montemurro unveiled a 4-2-3-1 with Miedema playing off of Caitlin Foord, overloading Birmingham’s centre backs, but also giving Miedema the freedom to drop deep while keeping a presence upfront in Foord, as the two have struck up an excellent strike partnership this season. Montemurro was unable to persist with the system because of a need to re-jig his midfield against Manchester United, and then Mead’s suspension against Spurs. It could be, though, something Montemurro returns to in order to give Arsenal some unpredictability in the final weeks of his tenure.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 18. Williams; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 15. McCabe; 13. Wälti, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 8. Nobbs; 19. Foord
Substitues: 1. Zinsberger, 4. Patten, 7. Van de Donk, 14. Roord, 20. Maier, 21. Gut, 29. Goldie
WHAT: Bristol City Women vs Arsenal Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Twerton Park, Bath
WHEN: Sunday, April 4th 6:00 AM PDT | 8:00 AM EDT | 2:00 PM BST
WATCH: FAPlayer.tv (streaming)