The Barclays WSL makes it return tomorrow across the league, with Arsenal Women hosting Liverpool at the Emirates. Arsenal have sold over 50,000 tickets, which is not bad given that Liverpool Women don’t have the same resonance as Liverpool in the Premier League. Indeed, Arsenal’s first two home games this season are at the Emirates, with the Gunners hosting Aston Villa in two weeks time. Here are three things to watch for:
Can new signings make mark?
Arsenal made 5 signings this summer, with three outright additions in Alessia Russo, Cloe Lacassé and Kyra Cooney-Cross. Russo has already made her mark for Arsenal, scoring twice in the Champions League defeat to Paris FC. But this will be her real debut, in front of a big crowd at a big ground. The expectation is Russo will start. It’ll also be likely that Laia Codina and Amanda Ilestedt start at centre back, while Lacassé should get the starting right-wing birth until Beth Mead’s fully match fit. For those four, it’s important to start the season running, while Kyra Cooney-Cross will likely get more time to bed in to the squad.
Arsenal finished last year playing a back three. It was a system that was used mostly because of injury, as Arsenal didn’t have the midfielders to play a 4231. But it was also a system Jonas Eidevall trialed at different moments throughout the season, preparing the team to use the system in January, and using it to close out games. It could make its return this season, and it could be used tomorrow: with Noelle Maritz a fitness concern, Arsenal’s lack of a deputy right back in Laura Wienroither’s absence is all of a sudden an issue. Katie McCabe was used there at points in the Champions League, and Lotte Wubben-Moy could also start. But, Victoria Pelova has also been playing the role for the Netherlands, and has looked far more comfortable as time has progressed. Without a natural right back, it could be a possible solution.
Arsenal’s investment this summer means that there will be a big squad that Eidevall has available, even without Vivianne Miedema, Leah Williamson, Wienroither, Maritz, and Teyah Goldie. How Eidevall uses his squad will be fascinating. Eidevall utilized substitutes a lot at the beginning of his tenure two seasons ago, but used substitutes less as he phased out players that didn’t fit his style, and with last year’s injury list, Eidevall often couldn’t use substitutes decisively. That will be different this season, and it’ll be an area of interest as the season develops.
Predicted XI (343): 1.. Zinsberger; 28. Ilestedt, 27. Codina, 7. Catley; 21. Pelova, 10. Little, 13. Wälti, 15. McCabe; 12. Maanum, 19. Foord; 9. Russo
Substitutes: 14. D’Angelo (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 9. Mead, 17. Hurtig, 22. Kühl, 24. Lacassé, 25. Blackstenius, 32. Cooney-Cross
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Liverpool Women
WHEN: Sunday, October 1, 9:00am EDT/6:00am PDT/2:00pm BST
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, North London
HOW TO WATCH: Streaming live FA Player (free to sign up).