Arsenal host bottom side Birmingham City in the WSL tomorrow at Meadow Park, looking to go 8 points clear of Chelsea. Chelsea, playing in the League Cup final today, will have 3 games in hand this time tomorrow, and Arsenal could put them under immense pressure if they were to win against Birmingham. Birmingham, though, handed Arsenal their only loss this season, a shock 2-0 defeat in January, very much the lowest moment of Arsenal’s season.
Birmingham City, though, have not pushed on from that result, and it remains their sole win of the season. On the day, they pressed well and were compact between the lines, forcing Arsenal to stay in wide positions. But Darren Carter, who oversaw the 2-0 win, has been unable to pick up wins in the league, and they now find themselves eight points behind Leicester City. Barring something miraculous, Birmingham are almost certainly going down, but Arsenal will know they can still hurt them—they just need to look back two months to see the evidence.
Lotte Wubben-Moy should return to the squad, while Nikita Parris missed on Wednesday’s 4-0 win against Reading with a minor injury.
Player to watch:
Vivianne Miedema was a picture of frustration in Arsenal’s defeat at Birmingham. Cut off from her midfield, Miedema dropped deeper in search of the ball, leaving Arsenal without a presence upfront, and essentially getting in the way of Arsenal’s midfielders—something Birmingham were happy to do.
Miedema, though, has clicked back into form since, and from a number 10 role on Wednesday, was absolutely superb, scoring one, and setting one up for Stina Blackstenius. Blackstenius’ arrival has allowed Miedema to play as a number 10, which in truth is something that Miedema enjoys more. It also suits Jonas Eidevall’s attacking style of play. Blackstenius holds the ball up, runs the channel, and fills the six yard box.
And, as a 10, Miedema has been excellent. She knits the play superbly well, and her understanding of space and movement means she’s still a potent goal threat. Arsenal are in a better attacking place than they were in January in part because of Miedema’s burgeoning partnership with Blackstenius.
Predicted XI: 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 2. Rafaelle Souza, 15. McCabe; 10. Little, 13. Wälti; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 77. Heath; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 18. Williams (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 5 Beattie, 7. Catley, 8. Nobbs, 12. Maanum, 19. Foord, 23. Iwabuchi, 26. Wienroither
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Birmingham City Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Saturday, March 2nd 4:00 AM PST | 7:00 AM EST | 12:00 PM GMT
WATCH: CNBC (US, TV) NBC Sports Live Extra (US, streaming), atafootball.com (US, streaming), BBC (UK)