Arsenal Women play Wolfsburg in the second leg of the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League at the Volkswagen Arena on Thursday. Lotte Wubben-Moy’s 89th minute goal last week means the tie is delicately poised at 1-1 ahead of the second leg, where Wolfsburg are expected to have around 7,000 fans.
Arsenal didn’t play on the weekend, with Saturday’s North London Derby postponed because of covid cases within Tottenham. Wolfsburg did play, winning 4-1, and were 4-0 up by halftime.
Most of Wolfsburg’s success in the first leg came on the counter attack, playing quick balls into the channels to escape Arsenal’s press. Arsenal did play with better intensity, which smothered most of Wolfsburg’s counter-attack, but they were still threatening, with Tabea Waßmuth, the scorer of Wolfburg’s goal, hitting the post, as did Jill Roord.
The question for Arsenal is whether their performance is more reminiscent of the second half or first half. In the first half, Arsenal became predictable: Leah Williamson looked to hit longer passes, and Wolfsburg were able to press Lia Wälti. But, Arsenal began to improve, especially as Stina Blackstenius ran the channels and created space.
Arsenal went out at this stage against PSG in 2020, and they were far more competitive against Wolfsburg than they were at any point in their last quarter-final. Wolfsburg have far more experience of the competition, especially at this stage. Defeat wouldn’t be a catastrophe, but Arsenal have to, at the very least, give a good account of themselves.
Beth Mead is suspended, and Rafaelle Souza and Mana Iwabuchi will miss out through injury. Caitlin Foord should return having missed the first leg.
Lotte Wubben-Moy got the headlines in the first leg with her equalizing goal, and it was extremely well taken. But it is her ball playing, as well as defending, that will be important as she deputises for Rafaelle Souza. Rafaelle’s passing has been exemplary since arriving at Arsenal, with her left foot complimenting Leah Williamson. Wubben-Moy is right footed, of course, and passed at a 91% clip last week, including 6 of 9 accurate long passes. If Wolfsburg give her time, the question will be how incisive Wubben-Moy can be on the ball. At one stage last week she created an attack by driving from defence with the ball. If she gets the time and space to do so, Wubben-Moy will be important in Arsenal’s building from the back—especially as Williamson is likely to get much of the attention.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley; 10. Little, 13. Wälti; 15. McCabe, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 5. Beattie, 8. Nobbs, 12. Maanum, 14. Parris, 20. Boye, 26. Wienroither, 77. Heath
WHAT: Wolfsburg Frauen vs Arsenal Women, UEFA Women’s Champions League
WHERE: Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg
WHEN: Thursday, March 31st 9:45 AM PDT | 12:45 PM EDT | 5:45 PM BST
WATCH: DAZN YouTube