Arsenal Women play the second leg of their Champions League semi-final tie against Wolfsburg on Monday afternoon in front of a sold out Emirates Stadium. The sell out point was reached on Saturday afternoon, with Arsenal selling about 15,000 or so tickets in the 6 days after the first leg of the tie, where Arsenal come from two goals down to draw 2-2 in Germany. Arsenal will face an experienced Wolfsburg side who will hope to ruin the big occasion, but Arsenal will hope that the big crowd is an X-factor.
Lina Hurtig is fit enough to be in Arsenal’s squad, but Caitlin Foord will remain absent with a hamstring injury sustained at the beginning of April. Thus, expect Jonas Eidevall to again start with a back 3 as he did in Germany. While Arsenal starting with a back 3 came as perhaps a surprise to Wolfsburg, as Arsenal almost always have four defenders, it also comes out of necessity: with Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead, Leah Williamson, and Kim Little all out, along with Foord, there aren’t enough midfielders or wide attackers to lineup in another system.
The rest of Arsenal’s team will likely be exactly the same, with Katie McCabe and Victoria Pelova coming inside to ensure that Arsenal don’t get overrun in midfield. Wolfsburg are a very powerful and physical team, especially with Lena Oberdorf in midfield, so McCabe and Pelova’s presence in central spaces will be crucial. So too will the performance of Lia Wälti, whose passing was exceptional in the last match, and Frida Maanum, who has the physical profile to match up with Oberdorf and Jill Roord centrally.
Last week Arsenal defended well for the most part, but were susceptible to diagonal passes behind the wingbacks, which led to Ewa Pajor’s opening goal in the tie. For Arsenal to advance, preventing that space in behind will be crucial. Arsenal will be happy to defend the penalty box with Jen Beattie centrally, and happy for Wolfsburg to cross the ball, which is why ensuring that there isn’t too much open space behind will be important.
Predicted lineup (3421): 1. Zinsberger; 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 2. Rafaelle; 16. Maritz, 12. Maanum, 13. Wälti, 7. Catley; 21. Pelova, 15. McCabe; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 14. D’Angelo (GK), 18. Marckese (GK), 17. Hurtig, 22. Kühl, 26. Wienroither, 59. Agyemang, 60. Habert, 62. Reid
WHAT: Arsenal Women v Wolfsburg Frauen, UEFA Women’s Champions League
WHERE: Emirates Stadium
WHEN: Monday, May 1st 9:45 AM PDT | 12:45 PM EDT | 5:45 PM BST
WATCH: DAZN YouTube (Streaming)