Arsenal ready for Manchester United crunch Women’s Super League clash
- Credit: PA
Arsenal take on Manchester United away from home on Sunday in a crunch WSL showdown at Leigh Sports Village.
Arsenal come into the game boasting a one hundred percent winning record as Manchester United are also undefeated but drew 1-1 with champions Chelsea on the opening day of the season.
Joe Montemurro’s side only met United once in the 2019-20 curtailed season and won 1-0 thanks to a late Danielle van de Donk goal.
Kim Little and Jill Roord have returned to full training, Little recovering from a hamstring injury and Netherlands international Roord is also back in full training coming back from an MCL problem.
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Roord started in Wednesday’s 4-0 victory against London City Lionesses and Little came off the bench to get more minutes under their belts.
Goalkeeper Fran Stenson is also back in full training after a thumb injury and she started in the game on Wednesday and Joe Montemurro’s side are also boosted by the return of German international Leonie Maier who will most likely start at right-back in Manchester due to the injury of Noelle Maritz.
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Jordan Nobbs, Steph Catley and Lisa Evans will miss the weekends game with an Arsenal statement saying: “They’ve started running on the pitch this week as part of their rehabilitation”.
The club have also given an update on Swiss International Noelle Maritz who suffered a knee injury just before the international break that forced her to miss Switzerland’s Euro 2022 qualifying win over Romania.
The statement said on the former Wolfsburg full-back: “Noelle will start running on the pitch later this week as part of her rehabilitation for her knee injury.”
For Manchester United Alessia Russo withdrew from the England squad prior to the cancelled friendly with Germany due to a thigh injury and it remains to be seen whether our leading goalscorer has recovered in time to face the Gunners.
Jackie Groenen, Hayley Ladd, Kirsty Hanson, Jane Ross and Kirsty Smith all represented their respective countries during October with no ill effects, according to manager Casey Stoney
“Morale’s good,” Casey told the Manchester United website “It does feel like a long time since we last played with the international window and not having a game. We’ve used the time well to make sure the players have got some good work in.
“We’ve given them some time off as well and those players that have come back from internationals are fit and well, so we’re looking good.”
When they last met:
Arsenal vs Manchester United is a mouth watering rivalry but Monday the 16th September 2019 saw the sides meet for the very first time in the Women’s Super League.
The teams had met in the previous season in the Continental Cup with Manchester United in the Championship, Arsenal won 2-1 on that occasion thanks to a double from Vivianne Miedema.
However a summer of strengthening and new hope meant it would be a much tougher ask for Arsenal on this occasion.
Kitted out in yellow last time they took on the Red Devils the Gunners were the dominate force on the night but an inspired Mary Earps In the Red Devils goal was shutting them out.
Earps made a fantastic save from Miedema as the Dutch striker saw her header somehow tipped away by the English International.
Earps then denied Kim Little twice from close range after the break as Leah Williamson played in the Arsenal captain but her low effort was somehow kept out by the fantastic reactions of the keeper.
However as time was running out and with Arsenal thinking it was going to be a frustrating draw Danielle Van De Donk became the hero.
Van De Donk who came off the bench with twenty minutes to go fired in an 89th minute winner as the ball deflected kindly for her and she tucked a shot beyond Earps who had looked unbeatable to send the Gunners home happy.
They also met in the Continental Cup in 2019 with Arsenal winning 2-1 as Manchester United were a Championship team at the time.
Miedema scored a double as the Gunners reached the final of the tournament her second goal was a moment of magic as the Netherlands international brought the ball down inside the box, shifted it onto her left foot and fired past Siobhan Chamberlain.
Potential match winners:
Caitlin Foord- Foord has had a superb start to the season she has turned out to be a crucial part in the Arsenal machine that has resulted in the Gunners being top of the league after winning all five matches to date.
She started the season in sensational form as she has five assists and five goals in all competitions for the club so far in 2020-21.
With her running off the ball she could be key to this game and could create chances for Vivianne Miedema to move into postions in front of the goal to finish off the chances that will come her way.
Katie McCabe - McCabe is another player who has started the season in top form as In four matches she has scored once and registered five assists for Joe Montemurro’s side.
She scored last time out against Tottenham Hotspur in the Women’s Super League and set-pieces could be key for Arsenal in their toughest match of the season yet.
McCabe will be key to the defensive work both on and off the ball for the Gunners and will need to be focused on her defending as Manchester United have dangerous players in attack.
Christen Press- USA World Cup winner Press could prove to be a problem for Arsenal this weekend, she scored for the Red Devils last time out against West Ham United for her first goal for the club.
Press is a natural goalscorer and has the pace to really worry defenders, Arsenal have to stop her from getting in behind the defence or they will find themselves in bother.
Press is a two-time World Cup winner with the USA, most recently lifting the trophy at last year’s tournament in France. She has 138 international caps and has scored 58 goals for her country.
Jackie Groenen - Groenen will be up against her Dutch national teammates Vivianne Miedema, Jill Roord and Danielle van de Donk on Sunday afternoon.
Groenen has started the season on fine form and has an assist to her name but it’s her energy and passing range that is the main factor in her game.
Groenen has good vision that comes with a fine passing range and she could be the key to unlock the Arsenal defence playing balls over the top for the pace of Press and Tobin Heath to run onto.
Arsenal also can’t afford to let her get to the byline and deliver crosses as she is so accurate at getting dangerous balls into the box and makes it hard for the opposition to defend.
What’s been said:
In the build up to Sunday’s fixture Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro said: “We’re assessing each challenge as it is and we’re looking forward to Manchester United- they are a team in form with some big players.”
“We’re looking forward to this phase of the season. I think we had a tough start to the season with teams that can really unlock you and we’ve taken points from them. Now is an important phase and we’re really looking forward to it.”
How to watch:
The game is being broadcast on the FA player on Sunday afternoon with a 2.30pm kick off time.