Arsenal kick off a huge week in the WSL against Manchester United on Saturday lunch time. Manchester United are third in the WSL, five points behind Arsenal. On Friday, Arsenal play Chelsea at Kingsmeadow, while Chelsea play Manchester City on Sunday in the WSL. It is, then, a crucial week at the top of the table.
Manchester United are steadily improving under Marc Skinner, and have won four straight in the WSL. They also knocked Arsenal out of the Continental Cup two weeks ago, with Alessia Russo scoring the winner in the 85th minute from a set piece. Manchester United lost to Chelsea in the Conti Cup semi-final on Wednesday, and thus come into the fixture with heavier legs than Arsenal, though Ella Toone, their best player, did not feature because of suspension. United also made additions on deadline day, adding Signe Bruun on loan, Jade Moore in midfield, and Dianna Caldwell at centre back.
United beat Arsenal primarily by sitting off, especially in the second half. They dared Arsenal to break them down, which Arsenal couldn’t, while United threatened from dangerous deliveries and on the counter attack.
Arsenal, though, have been better since that defeat, with last Thursday’s second half against Brighton, where they turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory, the best performance in some weeks. Ahead of a crucial week, three points is a must.
Tobin Heath, Lia Wälti, Rafaelle Souza, and Leah Williamson were all rested against London City Lionesses, while Stina Blackstenius and Jen Beattie should be available after illness. After Australia’s defeat to South Korea in the Asian Cup, Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, and Caitlin Foord are available.
Player to watch:
Jordan Nobbs has started all of Arsenal’s league fixtures in January in a number 10 role, and increasingly, is looking like the best fit for the position. Nobbs xA per 90 is better than any other available Arsenal attacker bar Beth Mead , and we’re starting to see Nobbs becoming increasingly influential as Arsenal look to build overloads in the wide areas. Nobbs’ quick one-twos and injection of dynamism speed play up, and her off the ball runs add an additional goal threat—something Arsenal have largely been missing from midfield in recent weeks.
Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 2. Rafaelle Souza, 15. McCabe; 13. Wälti, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 8. Nobbs, 77. Heath; 11. Miedema
Substitutes: 18. Williams (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 7. Catley, 12. Maanum, 14. Parris, 19. Foord, 25. Blackstenius, 26. Wienroither
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Manchester United Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Saturday, February 5th 4:30 AM PST | 7:30 AM EST | 12:30 PM GMT
WATCH: NBC Sports Live Extra (US, streaming), atafootball.com (US, streaming), Sky Sports (UK)