Arsenal start off Continental Cup campaign at Chelsea

Manchester City's Ellen White battles for the ball with Arsenal's Leah Williamson (right) and Vikkto

Manchester City's Ellen White battles for the ball with Arsenal's Leah Williamson (right) and Vikktoria Schnaderbeck (left) in the Vitality FA Women's Cup semi final match at the Academy Stadium, Manchester. - Credit: PA

Arsenal start their Continental Cup campaign this evening away at Current holders Chelsea.

Chelsea picked up the trophy in February with a 2-1 win over the Gunners at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground as Beth England scored a double including a last gasp winner after Leah Williamson had equalised for Joe Montemurro’s side.

Arsenal go into the game following a 3-1 win over Bristol City while Chelsea also go into the game after a win as they beat Birmingham City 1-0 due to an early Fran Kirby header.

Team news:

Jill Roord is still out with a knee injury that she sustained on international duty, Kim Little may also miss out due to a thigh injury she sustained against Manchester City in the FA Cup Semi-final.

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Australian duo Steph Catley and Lydia Williams will also miss the tie with calf and ankle injuries and won’t return until after the international break at the end of October.

Malin Gut could be handed a full debut in midfield as it’s a cup game as Lia Wälti is being managed due to her fitness.

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Leonie Maier could also be drafted in at at right-back for her first start of the season.

As for Chelsea they have a big squad so they could rotate with Carly Telford playing in goal ahead of regular number 1 Ann-Katrin Berger.

Australian striker Sam Kerr could be recalled to the starting eleven as she was a substitute in their 1-0 win over Birmingham at the weekend.

Pernille Harder could also be set to make her first start for the Blues following her mega summer move from Wolfsburg as Guro Reiten who has had limited opportunities this season due to squad depth could also start.

When they last met:

Arsenal met Chelsea three times in 2019-20 and lost out in all three fixtures.

They met twice in the WSL losing 2-1 away from home, Danielle van de Donk put the Gunners ahead in the 9th minute but Beth England equalised in the 57th before Maria Thorisdóttir struck a late blow for the Gunners in the 87th.

When the sides met at Meadow Park in January Emma Hayes side blew Joe Montemurro’s troops away 4-1.

Sam Kerr grabbed her first Chelsea goal as the Blues scored three times in ten first-half minutes

Kerr headed in Chelsea’s second goal from a far-post centre by Guro Reiten three minutes after Beth England’s sumptuous curled opener.

Sophie Ingle then made it 3-0 to the visitors with a glorious 20-yard left-foot, half-volley into the top corner inside 20 minutes.

Reiten’s header from Jonna Andersson’s cross extended the lead further after the break.

Beth Mead gave a glimmer of hope for Arsenal with a tame header that slipped through keeper Ann-Katrin Berger’s grasp.

They then met in Nottingham for the Continetal Cup final as a Bethany England double in-between a Leah Williamson goal saw the Blues come away with the trophy for the first time in their history.

Potential match winners:

Vivianne Miedema - Arsenal are expected to be on the back foot and to win this game their defensive structure and balance will need to be right.

However Chelsea will be focusing on doubling up with their marking on Miedema but she will be key for Arsenal when they get their chances Miedema will be expected to take them.

She has won the Golden Boot in two consecutive seasons but last season failed to register a single goal against Chelsea in three meetings.

Beth Mead:

Mead struggled with injuries last term but never fails to perform when these sides meet, she scored in the 4-1 defeat at Meadow Park last season.

Over the last few games she has looked sharp and has played several exceptional passes including one to Miedema against Bristol City on Sunday as she slotted into the net to make it 3-1.

Mead is finally finding her best form once again and will be pivotal in Arsenal’s attack at Kingsmeadow.

Fran Kirby - Kirby has been superb in 2020-21 so far, she scored the winner on Sunday at Birmingham and looks like she is enjoying her football.

The English International returned from a medical condition called pericarditis that she says made her consider an early retirement.

However the Chelsea forward is back stronger than ever and when she gets in one v one situations is very hard to stop.

Kirby will have to be watched closely by Arsenal’s defence or they could be in for difficult night up against her.

Sophie Ingle - Ingle is one of the underatted stars of the WSL and she was a problem for Arsenal last season as she was a real handful to deal with in midfield.

She also scored a stunning goal at Meadow Park in the 4-1 Chelsea victory, Ingle made her 100th cap for Wales away to Norway several weeks ago so she won’t shy away from a big game.

The midfield battle is where this game could be won and lost and Ingle could have a big say in that.

Whats been said:

Fran Kirby told the Chelsea website ahead of the Arsenal game: “We were really focused on getting the three points and keeping a clean sheet against Birmingham, something we’ve talked about all week is maintaining that defensive discipline.

“We did it really well in Birmingham and, ultimately, the goal was to get three points and get the win and we did that.

“I feel 100 per cent fit. I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t,’ she emphasised. ‘That’s the most important thing I’ve learned over my career. I need to make sure that I’m looking after myself and that every time I step on the pitch I’m 100 per cent ready to go. I’m feeling really good, so hopefully I can keep building on that.

“I’ve properly pushed myself to the limit this year. I’m in a really good place and hopefully can keep building. As far as the team goes, when I know that we’ve got so many good players who can come into the game and make an impact, it’s exciting for me to be a part of and I want to keep growing and building my confidence.”

How to watch?

This game won’t be available to watch live.

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