Arsenal Women play their final league game of the season, and the final league game under Joe Montemurro tomorrow against Aston Villa. The Gunners’ 2-1 win against Everton all but clinched Champions League football last weekend; to cede 3rd place, Manchester United would have to win, against Everton, Arsenal would have to lose against Aston Villa, and there’d have to be a 27-goal swing. Still, Arsenal will want to end the Montemurro era on a high note.
Aston Villa enter the match in 11th. Should they lose and Bristol City were to beat Brighton, Villa would go down. Villa, though, have a much better goal difference than Bristol City, so a point would see them safe, and it is a point that interim manager Marcus Bignot will go for. Bignot oversaw Villa’s match against Arsenal in February, at the beginning of Arsenal’s winning WSL run. Villa lost 4-0 that day, but kept Arsenal out until the second half. Bignot will ask for 45 minutes more of that, and will pack his defence. Under Bignot, Villa play five at the back, play the ball long, and play for set pieces—Eni Aluko, in hiring Bignot, has eschewed the football they played in the first half of the season and in the Championship. If it works, Aluko can review and reset in the summer; if it doesn’t, well, they’ll be back in the Championship.
Viki Schnaderbeck and Jen Beattie will not play again this season, and Lisa Evans is unlikely to do so either, though there is next weekend’s cup game against Crystal Palace. Steph Catley should get more minutes, having played the final 10 last week against Everton.
Player to watch:
Vivianne Miedema has won the Golden Boot in the WSL for two seasons running, but Miedema is two goals behind Chelsea’s Sam Kerr this season. Miedema, famously, doesn’t care about personal records, and for an elite goalscorer, is the ultimate team player. That has seen Miedema drop into a number 10 role without complaint in recent weeks—indeed, Miedema has spoken about enjoying assists to goals. Miedema has played in this deeper role against teams that have lined up with three/five at the back, in an effort to drag a center back out of position or let Miedema operate in space, with Caitlin Foord playing through the middle.
Predicted lineup: 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 13. Wälti, 15. McCabe; 10. Little, 7. Van de Donk; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 8. Nobbs; 19. Foord
Substitues: 18. Williams, 3. Wubben-Moy, 4. Patten, 12. Catley, 14. Roord, 20. Maier, 21. Gut, 29. Goldie
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Aston Villa Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Sunday, May 9th 6:30 AM PDT | 9:30 AM EDT | 2:30 PM BST
WATCH: FAPlayer.TV (streaming)