Preview: Arsenal host north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal's Kim Little (centre) in action during the Barclays FA WSL match at Meadow Park, London.

Arsenal's Kim Little (centre) in action during the Barclays FA WSL match at Meadow Park, London. - Credit: PA

Arsenal welcome north London rival’s Tottenham Hotspur to Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon in the first Women’s Super League north London derby of the season.

The Gunners have already met their rivals this season in the FA Cup with Joe Montemurro’s side winning 4-0 thanks to goals from Jordan Nobbs and a hat-trick from Lisa Evans.

Arsenal come into the game at the top of the table winning four games from four against Reading, West Ham United, Bristol City and Brighton & Hove Albion.

As for Spurs they have only managed a point so far drawing their opening day game with West Ham before falling to defeats against Everton, Manchester City and Manchester United as they currently sit 9th in the table.

Team news:

Gunners captain Kim Little returned to training this week after missing the games against Bristol City and Brighton in the WSL and the Continetal Cup clash with Chelsea so could be back in action.

However Steph Catley, Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs, Lisa Evans and Noelle Maritz are all out until after the upcoming international break.

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Young goalkeeper Fran Stenson is also a doubt as she is being assessed with a thumb injury.

Maritz is set to miss Switzerland’s upcoming European Championship qualifying game with Romania with a knee injury and could set to be out for six weeks it was confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

Joe Montemurro could keep the same side that beat the Seagulls 5-0 on Sunday with Lia Wälti and Malin Gut in midfield with Danielle van de Donk playing in a higher role.

The Gunners are likely to play in a 4-3-3 formation with Beth Mead, Caitlin Foord and Vivianne Miedema across the front line.

Spurs played a 4-2-3-1 against Manchester United last time out with Josie Green and Alanna Kennedy anchoring the midfield for the Lilywhites.

When they last met:

Arsenal reached the semi-final of the FA Women’s Cup after a 4-0 victory over north London rival’s Tottenham Hotspur in September at Meadow Park.

Lisa Evans netted a second half hat-trick after Jordan Nobbs had set Joe Montemurro’s side on their way after a stunning strike.

Tottenham had the first shot on goal as Kit Graham tried her luck inside five minutes but the shot was easily dealt with by Manuela Zinsberger getting down to claim the loose ball.

Arsenal then hit the crossbar a minute later when Leah Williamson played in an inch perfect cross onto the head of Caitlin Foord who struck the crossbar before Spurs cleared the danger.

Evans then drove forward on 12 minutes before her low cross from the left was flicked behind by Foord who went in for a challenge with Shelina Zadorsky at the near-post.

Tottenham were well set-up and kept Arsenal at bay packing the midfield and not allowing the Gunners to play through them something that Karen Hills and Juan Amoros would have been pleased with.

Montemurro’s side than created a half chance when Danielle van de Donk played a clever pass into the back-post to Foord only to see her effort cleared by Kerys Harrop at the heart of the Spurs defence.

Noelle Maritz then had a strike over the bar on 29 minutes as Katie McCabe pulled the ball back for the Swiss International but she fired her effort over the crossbar from just outside the box.

Harrop then came to Spurs rescue a minute later when Jordan Nobbs was teed up in the box by Foord but her strike from close range was well blocked by the former Birmingham City defender who moved to the north London side during the summer.

Zinsberger was then forced into action as Graham whipped a free-kick into the box searching for Alanna Kennedy but the Austrian keeper was out off her line quickly to punch the ball away from danger.

Tottenham then wanted a penalty as Katie McCabe and Rosella Ayane battled for the ball at the back-post before Ayane went down but the referee waved away her the protests.

Zinsberger was then forced into a save as Kennedy saw her cross into the near-post tipped away by the keeper resulting in a corner that came to nothing.

Montemurro’s troops had the final chance of the half when Miedema pulled Chloe Peplow out of position before cutting inside and her pull-back couldn’t find a red shirt allowing the visitors to clear.

It was the Lilywhites who had the first shot of the second half when Gemma Davison drove forward but her effort from range sailed wide of the target.

Arsenal then started to press high and won several corners but Tottenham didn’t clear the danger fully as the ball fell to Miedema but her piece of intricate play was well dealt with by Harrop winning the ball from the Netherlands international.

On 50 minutes Nobbs then had her effort saved by Spencer as Little threaded the ball into her path but her effort was well held by the keeper.

Katie McCabe had the ball in the net two minutes later as Foord was played in by the Republic of Ireland International the ball falling back to the path of McCabe as she lashed her effort into the net however the goal was ruled out for a foul on Zadorsky.

Spencer was then called into action again to keep out Little as a Nobbs ball picked the Scottish International out but her volley was tame and plucked out of the air by the Spurs stopper.

On 56 minutes Tottenham then had a fine opportunity to take the lead with Kennedy as Viktoria Schnaderbeck and goalkeeper Zinsberger miscommunicated with one another as the defender mistimed her back-pass to see the ball go behind for a corner.

From the resulting corner the Australian international got up highest before heading the ball inches wide of the upright.

Kim Little won a free-kick on the edge of the area as she rolled Kennedy before being taken down by the new Spurs signing, Arsenal midfielder Van de Donk then layed the ball off to McCabe and she drilled a strike just wide of the target.

The Gunners were really putting the pressure on their rival’s as Little worked her way into the box on 65 minutes however her low powerful strike was straight at Spencer from an acute angle.

Karen Hills then was forced into a change on 69 minutes when Peplow was replaced due to an injury by Welsh international Josie Green.

The Gunners then took the lead via a stunning goal from Nobbs as she lobbed the ball over Spencer from range on 72 minutes as Spurs defender Ashleigh Neville gave the ball away and the midfielder spotted Spencer off her line before dinking the ball over the keeper.

A minute later it was two when Miedema slotted the ball onto Evans with a fabulous pass before the Scottish International remained calm slotting the ball across Spencer in the Spurs goal.

On 77 minutes the Gunners made a double change as Miedema and Nobbs were replaced by Malin Gut and Beth Mead.

Lotte Wubben-Moy was then to make her Arsenal return after resigning in the summer from the USA as she came on in the 82nd minute as she replaced Schnaderbeck and Leonie Maier came on for Noelle Maritz.

Montemurro’s side then made it 3-0 when Evans again popped up to grab her second when Little played the ball into her path and once again she remained calm to fire the ball into the back of the net.

17-year-old Ruby Mace was then to make her Gunners debut when she came on in midfield for Little in the 88th minute.

Evans then went on to complete her hat-trick as Mead crossed the ball low into the box finding Foord who dummied the ball allowing the Scottish International to run onto it and lash her strike into the roof of the net.

Lucy Quinn then had a fine opportunity to pull a goal back as she was teed up inside the box but she thumped her effort straight at Zinsberger in what turned out to be the final opportunity of the game.

The clubs only met once in the Women’s Super League in 2019-20 due to the Coronavirus pandemic ending the season infront of 38,262 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Scotland star Kim Little and Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema’s second-half goals won the division’s first derby between the two sides.

They also met in March 2017 in the FA Cup with Spurs not fully professional at the time with Arsenal winning 10-0 as Danielle van de Donk netted a hat-trick, Danielle Carter hit a brace with goals from Chloe Kelly, Kim Little, Katie McCabe and Dominique Janssen adding to the score.

Potential match winners:

Leah Williamson - Williamson is a childhood Arsenal fan so this game means more to the Arsenal defender than most. Against Brighton she was outstanding putting in her best performance of the season so far.

Williamson broke the lines well and also broke Brighton’s high press tactic and her passes exploited Brighton as she played them into space behind the Seagulls defence.

She could also be up against Alex Morgan as the USA International may be set for her Spurs debut so will need to be alert in marking her.

Katie McCabe - McCabe has been somewhat underatted for the Gunners once again this season.

The Republic of Ireland International has four assists this season and is joint at the top of the list for assists with Beth Mead.

McCabe could hurt Tottenham Hotspur with her running in behind and her crossing could cause Spurs problems throughout the game.

Alanna Kennedy - Kennedy impressed for Spurs the last time the two sides met, she can play either in defence or midfield began her career at W-League side Sydney FC in 2010, where she spent a total of six seasons during four separate stints, winning the W-League Premiership in 2011 and the W-League Championship in 2013 and 2019.

The Australian international was also named the clubs player of the Year in 2016.

The 25-year-old also had spells with Newcastle Jets and Western Syndey Wanderers before going on to lift the Premiership title with Perth Glory and won Championship titles with Western New York Flash and Melbourne City.

Kennedy has been capped 77 times by Australia and joined her parent club Orlando Pride in 2017 where she has made 60 appearances and scored eight goals.

Tottenham are expected to pack the midfield at Meadow Park and she will be key to breaking down the play.

Angela Addison- Addison has already played more games in 2020-21 than last season, she’s played in all 4 of Tottenham’s games so far.

Playing just behind the striker she has a real energy and with her constant running could cause problems for Arsenal.

She also has good vision so she is capable of playing a pass to open up the Arsenal defence, she is young but her intelligence puts her ahead of her years.

Whats been said:

Montemurro was speaking about the injury problems at the club earlier this week said: “Is it load management? Possibly. Is it the accumulation of games? Possibly. Is it the long pause of games and now, suddenly, there are lots of games and there is the stress of real-game situations as opposed to training at home alone? Possibly.”

“We’re trying to work out where and how and why this has happened. We need to be better at understanding all of this. There is no finger pointing here, this is about us coming together as a group, as a wider Arsenal, and also how we work with individuals on a specific basis and looking at how we can get better results.

“We need to look at it and be better because it’s an area where we are a little bit concerned.”

“That is despite a lot of extra precautions taken this season by the club, off the back of such a long break without football, too.

“There’s been more in terms of the screening and nutrition and the understanding of where they’re at. We’ve done a lot in terms of the mental health and the psychology areas those two areas are non-negotiables for us.

“I do have a feeling that professional athletes being out of the game for six months, in terms of the impact, in terms of the moment, the decision making, the different scenarios in terms of football pressure and football environments as opposed to isolated training, has taken its toll.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do from day one was to simulate and integrate real football situations as much as we could. A football moment is different to replicating it in training and replicating it on your own at home.

“The turns are different, the ball travels differently, the grass is different, the pressure is different, so we’d just try to replicate that as much as we can, but I think the long period out doing those football actions I think has taken its toll.”

How to watch:

The game will be broadcast live on BT Sport on Sunday October 18 with a 2.30 kick off time.

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