Arsenal Women play Chelsea in the Conti Cup final on Sunday at Selhurst Park. The final—a final that Arsenal and Chelsea both reached by only playing two games—represents realistically the last chance Arsenal have at winning silverware in the 2022-23 season, and ending a four year drought. Here are three things to watch:
Who goes in goal?
Sabrina D’Angelo trained yesterday after suffering a knee injury in Canada’s final game of the SheBelieves Cup during the last international break. It prompts an interesting dilemma for Jonas Eidevall: does he play Manuela Zinsberger, his number one goalkeeper, in the final, or does he play D’Angelo, who started the quarter-final and semi-final. The last time D’Angelo played, against Manchester City, she kept a clean sheet, and commanded the area well. The decision could ultimately point at Eidevall’s long term plan in goal.
Arsenal Chance Conversion
Arsenal had more possession at Kingsmeadow last week in Chelsea’s 2-0 FA Cup win, and more shots. Chelsea, though, were clinical, whereas Arsenal were not. That’s one analysis of the match, and while there’s some truth—Emma Hayes probably doesn’t want to concede 16 shots—there’s some overindexing of the quality of chances Arsenal created. That is understandable. When you have problems scoring, you begin to overrate the quality of chance you create, which leads to a pattern of goal-scorers looking like they’re underdelivering. In truth, Stina Blackstenius, for example, is about as clinical as she has been at her time at Arsenal; the problem is that rather than creating three or four chances a game, Blackstenius is really only getting one or two. While Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema are clinical (especially Miedema), it’s their creativity that Arsenal haven’t been able to replicate since losing the duo to ACL injuries.
As mentioned earlier, Arsenal dominated a large portion of the cup tie against Chelsea. But, Chelsea, having gone 2-0 up in the second half, largely controlled the match. Jonas Eidevall put it himself, last season, when Arsenal beat Manchester City 5-0 despite having less possession and fewer shots: you can control with shape. This iteration of Chelsea are very suited to counter-attacking football. In their midfield, they don’t have the control that Ji provided for many years, and their back three look to play quickly to the front, especially as they have players, like Lauren James and Sam Kerr, who can be devastating in transition. So, then, who control the match tomorrow? Is it Arsenal through possession and counter-pressing, or is it Chelsea in transition?
Predicted lineup (4231): 14. D’Angelo; 26. Wienroither, 6. Williamson, 2. Rafaelle, 7. Catley; 10. Little, 13. Wälti; 19. Foord, 12. Maanum, 15. McCabe; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 1. Zinsberger (GK), 18. Marckese (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 16. Maritz, 17. Hurtig, 21. Pelova, 22. Kühl, 59. Agyemang
WHAT: Arsenal Women v Chelsea Women, Continental League Cup
WHERE: Selhurst Park, Croydon
WHEN: Sunday, March 5th 7:00 AM PDT | 10:00 AM EDT | 3:00 PM GMT
WATCH: FA Player(streaming), BBC One (UK, TV)