Manchester City Women host Arsenal Women on Saturday in what is sure to be one of the biggest WSL 1 games of the season for both sides. With the league likely being decided on head-to-head results between City, Arsenal and Chelsea, both teams will be desperate to secure all three points.
The Blues go into the game on the back of a convincing 4-0 win over Yeovil Town Ladies last Sunday in which they dominated in every area and were unlucky not to score more – it wouldn’t have flattered City if they’d won by 10 goals, such was the gulf in class between the two sides.
City beat Yeovil Town Ladies 4-0 last weekend
It’ll be the 10th time the two sides have faced each other since City rebranded in 2014 and the Blues will be hoping they can replicate their fine display at Yeovil, but Arsenal are a different beast altogether and City will find it tough.
Arsenal notably added forwards Lisa Evans and the extremely talented Vivianne Mediema from Bayern Munich, right-back Jessica Samuelsson from Linköpings, and there was a return for centre-back Josy Henning from Olympique Lyonnais over the off-season. The signings of Samuelsson and Henning adds defensive solidity to a sometimes unbalanced back four, and the addition of Evans and Mediema bolsters Arsenal’s already impressive forward roster.
When the currently injured Mediema is fit, Arsenal’s forward line will surely be lethal, but for now City will ~only have to deal with likely starters Danielle Carter and Euro 2017 Golden Boot winner Jodie Taylor. No pressure there then.
It goes without saying that Arsenal’s biggest threat is likely to come from Jordan Nobbs. The midfielder will be at the centre of Arsenal’s game plan and will be involved all over the pitch. Nobbs possesses fantastic passing ability and is one of the best when it comes to shooting from distance – something City found out in their 1-0 Spring Series defeat! City will have to be on the top of their game if they’re to stop her from running the show.
City Team News
With a bit of a surprising team selection at Yeovil, Cushing will have a few more players at his disposal than we predicted in our Yeovil City XI last week.
OUT: No return date is in sight for Mie Leth Jans, who was injured in Denmark’s second group game in Euro 2017 versus the Netherlands. Karen Bardsley was spotted running on Tuesday but is still expected to be out after fracturing her leg, again at Euro 2017. Mel Lawley’s recovery is going well, wearing boots for the first time since her injury today, but we’d guess she’s a little way off returning just yet. Tessel Middag is also out with injury.
Mel Lawley returned to training today
IN: Jen Beattie made a return to the City side against Yeovil, being replaced by Megan Campbell after 69 minutes, so expect the Scottish international to feature against Arsenal in some capacity. Pauline Bremer was ruled out of City’s trip to Yeovil after suffering a slight groin injury, but manager Nick Cushing confirmed that keeping her out was precautionary and that she should be available for selection in time for Arsenal. The German is yet to make her domestic debut for City and some flair up front could make all the difference. Stanway is also available for selection after her goal-scoring return at Yeovil following an injury while on England duty over the summer.
Last 10 Games
The two teams last met in May in what would prove to be City’s sole defeat of the Spring Series with Arsenal nabbing all three points courtesy of a brilliant Jordan Nobbs free-kick deep into the second half.
We took a look at some stats from the last 10 games between the two sides.
City Player to Watch
Claire Emslie picks out Georgia Stanway for her second assist of the game and City’s 4th goal
Claire Emslie. Finishing the game with two assists to her name, the forward put in a sublime performance on her City WSL debut at Yeovil last weekend and she will undoubtedly be going into the game against Arsenal full of confidence. The visitors can leave space in behind their defence, so Emslie’s pace and link-up play with Nikita Parris could prove to be the key that unlocks Arsenal’s defence.
The outcome of this game is a tricky one to predict as there are so many unknowns. City’s squad has changed a considerable amount since the two sides last played, and so it’s difficult to judge how it’ll now fare against a strengthened Arsenal side in its first real competitive test.
Still, City looked sharp against Yeovil and Bremer could well make her WSL debut for the club, and if her debut goal against her former club Olympique Lyonnais in the 2017 TILC is anything to go by, it might be one to remember.
Man City Women 2 – 1 Arsenal Women.