Arsenal Women kick off their UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying tournament with a knockout round match against Kazakh side Okzhetpes. The first round of Champions League qualifiers sees teams drawn into mini-tournaments of four, with the winner of the tournament, decided on Saturday in a final, through to the second round of qualifying, which will feature a traditional home and away leg.
Should Arsenal beat Okzhetpes, they will face either Lokomotiv Moscow, the home side for the tournament, or PSV Eindhoven. Okzhetpes are third in the Kazakhstan Women’s Football Championship, with a goal difference of 42 after 16 games. The first and second place teams in the league have a goal difference of 133 and 84 respectively.
Okzhetpes failed to get out of the first round of qualifying last season, losing a straight playoff against Georgian side Lanchkhuti 2-1. Basically, Arsenal should win, and do so in a straightforward way.
Leah Williamson didn’t travel to Russia, and Lia Wälti has a minor injury. Jordan Nobbs has an ankle sprain after being on the end of a challenge from Erin Cuthbert in this month’s friendly against Chelsea, and Viki Schanderbeck is recovering from a long term knee injury. Jen Beattie had back surgery over the summer, and played against Spurs last weekend. Arsenal’s Olympians are all available, though Australia’s players—Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord, and Steph Catley—have only trained twice according to Jonas Eidevall.
Player to watch:
Frida Maanum was Arsenal’s latest signing in the transfer window, and she has impressed in both friendlies. A powerful box to box midfielder, Maanum has already shown an impressive range of passing and creativity, while also being very good at carrying the ball and going on driving runs.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 29. Goldie, 20. Boye, 15. McCabe; 4. Patten, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 12. Maanum, 23. Iwabuchi; 14. Parris
Substitutes: 18. Williams (GK), 28. Cull (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 7. Catley, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord,
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Okzhetpes, UEFA Women’s Champions League
WHERE: Sapsan Arena, Moscow
WHEN: Wednesday, August 18th 3:00 AM PDT | 6:00 AM EDT | 11:00 AM BST
WATCH: Arsenal.com are working to secure a stream