Arsenal return to WSL action by hosting Chelsea at the Emirates. Arsenal enter play three points behind Chelsea, who lead the WSL, with a game in hand. With five matches in the second half of the WSL season against Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United, it is vital Arsenal get something from the fixture to keep a title challenge alive. Arsenal, of course, will be without Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema for the rest of the season, but can welcome back Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, and Kim Little. Here are three things to watch for:
Maanum in midfield
Vivianne Miedema’s ruptured ACL was a devastating injury for Arsenal, not least because it came straight off the back of Beth Mead’s ruptured ACL. It doesn’t help that Miedema was back to her best, and Arsenal will have to find solutions to replace her goal-scoring and creativity. Yet, if there is one area where they can have less concern it is in midfield. Frida Maanum established herself as a fine number 10 in the autumn’s statement 5-1 win against Olympique Lyon, and she kept her place ever since, though in recent weeks, before Miedema’s ACL, she dropped deeper into central midfield. From number 10, Maanum is a strong runner and has shown an eye for goal, with 8 goals in 15 WSL and Champions League games. She can also help Arsenal disrupt Chelsea’s building from the back; stop Millie Bright’s diagonals, for example, and Chelsea have to build differently.
Arsenal are going to need their attackers to chip in with goals. Arsenal failed to sign Debinha, despite heavy interest, and while Victoria Pelova and Kathrine Kühl have come in, neither are necessarily goal scorers. Gio Quieroz has been recalled from loan, and she scored 7 goals last season for Levante in Spain. So, it falls on Stina Blackstenius, Katie McCabe, Maanum, and Caitlin Foord to chip in, as well as Gio and Lina Hurtig.
Options from the bench
At the very least, though, Jonas Eidevall will have options from the bench. While it’s fair to expect players who were at Arsenal in 2022 to start, Eidevall will have Gio, Kühl, Pelova, and Hurtig to call upon from the bench. With Arsenal’s injury crisis, he simply didn’t have as many options from the bench, and now he does. Furthermore, with Jordan Nobbs having departed, and Mana Iwabuchi heading for the exit door, Eidevall also has players that he has brought in to come in and offer something from the bench—something which could affect the game later on.
Predicted lineup (4231): 1. Zinsberger; 26. Wienroither, 6. Williamson, 2. Rafaelle, 7. Catley; 10. Little, 13. Wälti; 15. McCabe, 12. Maanum, 19. Foord; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 14. D’Angelo (GK), 18. Marckese (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 16. Maritz, 17. Hurtig, 20. Gio, 21. Pelova, 22. Kühl
WHAT: Arsenal Women v Chelsea Women, Barclays Women’s Super League
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, North London
WHEN: Sunday, January 15th 4:00 AM PDT | 7:00 AM EDT | 12:00 PM GMT
WATCH: CBS Sports Network (US, TV), Sky Sports (UK, TV)