Arsenal Women play the final game of this season tomorrow, in a 5th round Women’s FA Cup tie against Championship side Crystal Palace. This season’s FA Cup will finish at the beginning of next season (as it did last year) with the quarter-finals at the end of September, the semi-finals on Halloween, and the final on 5 December—the date on which, 100 years ago, the FA banned women’s football.
It is not, of course, only the final game of the season, but also the final game for manager Joe Montemurro. After three and a half seasons at the club, Montemurro will depart having won the Continental Cup in 2018 and the WSL in 2019, and having qualified for the Champions League twice. Arsenal also reached two further Continental Cup finals under Montemurro, and an FA Cup final in 2018.
When asked if he had second thoughts about stepping down, a decision he announced at the end of March, Montemurro said, “I have had many doubts over the last month and a half, but there is a gut feeling that tells me I’ve made the right decision. The club now have the opportunity to go to the next level with someone better than me.”
Arsenal have won nine of their last ten fixtures in all competitions, with the only blemish a draw against Aston Villa last weekend, and in truth, should beat Crystal Palace with some ease. Crystal Palace finished 7th in the Women’s Championship this season, with 20 points from 20 games. Palace beat relegated Championship side London Bees 3-0 in the 4th round.
Jen Beattie underwent back surgery on Monday to solve an issue that she has managed for most of her career. Lisa Evans is recovering from an Achilles injury, and likely will not be involved. Viki Schnaderbeck remains out, and Malin Gut, who was rumoured to be leaving the club this summer, suffered an ACL rupture in training this week. Jill Roord, whose departure for Wolfsburg was announced on Monday, could play her final game for the club.
Player to watch:
Katie McCabe excelled at left back this season, adding more to her defensive side of the game, while also contributing 4 goals and 12 assists (11 in the WSL). McCabe, though, has the versatility and capability to play further up the pitch, and Steph Catley’s return could see McCabe play as a left-winger. Catley played 45 minutes last weekend in a back three, with McCabe as a wing-back, and the beginning of a potential partnership between McCabe and Catley, who has an excellent delivery of final pass in her own right, could give Arsenal’s prospective new manager plenty of food for thought.
How full-back became joint leading assist-maker in league— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) May 14, 2021
Targeting opposition with outswinging corners
The transition from winger to full-back
Why she is a data devotee
Katie McCabe discusses her game | @ArtdeRoche
Predicted lineup: 18. Williams; 4. Patten, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 12. Catley; 13. Wälti, 10. Little, 7. Van de Donk; 8. Nobbs, 11. Miedema, 15. McCabe
Substitutes: 1. Zinsberger, 9. Mead, 14. Roord, 16. Maritz, 19. Foord, 20. Maier, 29. Goldie
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Crystal Palace Women, Women’s FA Cup
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Sunday, May 16th 7:00 AM PDT | 10:00 AM EDT | 3:00 PM BST
WATCH: Arsenal.com (streaming), Twitch