Arsenal Women host Manchester United in the quarter-final of the Continental League Cup on Wednesday. Because of their participation in Europe, Arsenal got a bye into the quarter final of the competition, while Manchester United went through as the best second place team in the group stage. Arsenal have won the Conti Cup five times, but haven’t lifted the trophy since 2018, finishing runners-up in 2019 and 2020.
It marks the beginning of a two and a half weeks for Arsenal, who go to Manchester on Sunday to play Manchester City in the league, before hosting Brighton and Manchester United at Meadow Park. Cup duty, comes first, and, on a streak of one win in five games, Arsenal will want to turn their form around before a crucial league period.
Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 in November, with a Vivianne Miedema strike from distance and a Katie McCabe penalty the difference. Manchester United, though, stuttering in November, have turned their form around, and find themselves in third, holding the final Champions League spot. Since losing to Arsenal, United have won 2-0, 5-0, and 5-0 in the WSL, and drew 2-2 with Leicester in the Contin Cup, while also beating Everton 2-0. Ella Toone, who is having an excellent season, has formed a good partnership with Alessia Russo, with Leah Galton a threat on the left wing. Crucially, United have scored early goals: after 20 minutes last weekend, they found themselves 3-0 up against Birmingham, having been 2-0 up inside 15 minutes in their final league game before the winter break, against Aston Villa. They will be, then, a stern test for Arsenal.
Arsenal welcome Leah Williamson and Tobin Heath back to the squad, while new signings Stina Blackstenius and Laura Wienroither also look set to be involved, though it’s too soon for Rafaelle Souza. Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, and Mana Iwabuchi are on international duty at the Asian Cup, while Lia Wälti is out. It will be too soon for Williamson, Heath, and Blackstenius to start, but expect some minutes for each, as Jonas Eidevall looks to bring them back into the fold.
Nikita Parris is one player who was hard done by Arsenal’s recent postponements. Having had her best game of the season against Leicester in December, Arsenal’s league game against Brighton was called off, while Parris herself missed Arsenal’s defeat against Birmingham. With Foord, Catley, and Iwabuchi on international duty, Parris is sure to start, and looks to finally be finding her feet after a slow start.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 15. McCabe; 12. Maanum, 10. Little; 14. Parris, 8. Nobbs, 9. Mead; 11. Miedema
Substitutes: 24. Stenson (GK), 6. Williamson, 20. Boye, 22. Schnaderbeck, 25. Blackstenius, 26. Wienroither, 28. Cull (GK), 29. Goldie, 77. Heath
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Manchester United Women, Continental League Cup
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Wednesday, January 19th 11:15 AM PST | 2:15 PM EST | 7:15 PM GMT
WATCH: FAPlayer.TV (streaming)