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Arsenal Women vs Aston Villa: match preview

Arsenal host Aston Villa with three games to go in the WSL

Arsenal Women Training Session Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal Women host Aston Villa in the final game of the season at Meadow Park. Arsenal’s last home game of the season will be against Tottenham midweek, and with just three matches to go, Arsenal are in must-win territory to hold out any hope of winning the WSL. Chelsea’s back to back wins against Spurs means Arsenal are 4 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand.

Chelsea play Birmingham and Manchester United to end the season, but for the final day of the season, Arsenal have to start by beating Aston Villa at home, which they didn’t manage last season. Villa drew 0-0 at Arsenal on the final day last season, and they drew 0-0 against Manchester United last weekend, and it took stoppage time for Chelsea to beat them.

In the return fixture earlier this season, Villa frustrated Arsenal for the first half, with Arsenal having to bring on Mana Iwabuchi, and the now departed Tobin Heath to win the game comfortably.

Carla Ward, who kept Birmingham City in the league last season, has Aston Villa playing with a settled back four: Sarah Mayling, Anita Asante, who is retiring at the end of the season, Rachel Corsie, and Maz Pacheco. Ahead of them, they are well protected in a 433, with Alisha Lehmann, Ramona Petzelberger, and Emily Gielnik looking to play on the counter attack. Villa, who have the 4th least amount of possession in the WSL, attempt the 5th most long passes, after Arsenal, Chelsea, Brighton, and West Ham, showing their strategy is to quickly get back to front.

Team news:

Arsenal will still be without Rafaelle Souza, and Tobin Heath has departed the club.

Key player:

Caitlin Foord scored her second goal of the WSL season last weekend, and it proved to be the winning goal. Collecting Leah Williamson’s long diagonal on the left, Foord finished expertly. Since the Asian Cup, Foord has been in good form on the left hand side, as she has gradually reclaimed her starting role from last season. Foord’s contract is up at the end of the season, and amid reported interest from Juventus, she has found her role in Eidevall’s team, highlighting why he wants to keep her. Foord not only adds a different form of power on the left, but her ability to make secondary runs puts her into good scoring positions, allowing Arsenal to have more of a direct threat beyond just Stina Blackstenius.

Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley; 13. Wälti, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 5. Beattie, 8. Nobbs, 12. Maanum, 14. Parris, 15. McCabe, 20. Boye, 23. Iwabuchi, 26. Wienroither

WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Aston Villa Women, FA WSL

WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood

WHEN: Sunday, May 1st 6:15 AM PDT | 9:15 AM EDT | 2:15 PM BST

WATCH: NBC Sports Live Extra (US, streaming), ATA Football (US, streaming), BBC 1 (UK), BBC iPlayer (UK, streaming)