Match preview: Arsenal Women v Bristol City

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 Bristol City to Meadow Park this afternoon as they return to Women’s Super League action following Thursday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City.

Arsenal's Caitlin Foord (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Kerys Harrop battle for the ball during the B

Arsenal's Caitlin Foord (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Kerys Harrop battle for the ball during the Barclays FA WSL match at Meadow Park, London. - Credit: PA

Arsenal are unbeaten in their two league fixtures so far beating Reading and West Ham United 6-1 and 9-1 respectively..

As for Tanya Oxtoby’s Bristol City side they lost heavily to Chelsea 9-0 last time out after an opening day 4-0 loss to FA Cup finalists Everton.

Team news:

Arsenal will still be without Jill Roord as the Netherlands international has a knee injury and Steph Catley is also unlikely to feature with a calf injury that kept her out of Thursday’s game in Manchester.

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Lisa Evans could also miss the game due to injury after also being ruled out of the Manchester City clash following her hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur.

Kim Little could also be unavailable for the Gunners after she limped off in Manchester.

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Centre-back Jennifer Beattie could also be handed her first start since the PSG champions league clash as she has made a full return from injury.

Bristol City have played with a 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formation in their opening two league games so will come to Meadow Park to sit back and try to hit the Gunners on the counter attack.

When they last met:

The biggest win margin in Women’s Super League history was recorded on December, 1 when the sides last met.

Arsenal beating Bristol City 11-1 with Miedema scoring a double hat-trick and registering four assists in the process.

Miedema became the first player in Women’s Super League history to provide 10 goal contributions in a single game.

It surpassed Liverpool’s 9-0 win over Doncaster Belles in 2013.

Arsenal took the lead after just seven minutes when Lisa Evans headed in a Miedema cross before minutes later Williamson scored with a diving header following another cross from the Dutch striker.

The Gunners had 32 shots during the game, 17 of them on target, at a rate of more than one effort on goal every three minutes.

Miedema then scored a hat-trick inside 21 first half minutes as the Gunners went in 5-0 at the break.

Nobbs was then to make it 6-0 as once again she was set up by Dutch striker Miedema who many have ran out of words to describe after another sublime campaign.

She then scored her fourth and fifth goals on the 51st and 56th minute before setting up a second goal for Evans on the 60th minute as she played the ball into the box for Evans to clip the ball over Sophie Baggaley in the Robins goal to make it 9-0.

The untouchable Dutch forward then completed her double hat-trick in the 64th minute blasting the ball in at the near-post following a defence splitting pass from Van De Donk.

Emma Mitchell then made it 11 after another dinked pass into the box this time from Beth Mead and she made no mistake in firing the ball in at the near-post.

Tanya Oxtoby’s Robins did get on the scoresheet however when Yana Daniels saw her penalty saved by Manuela Zinsberger but she lashed in the rebound.

The Gunners also beat the Robins 7-0 in the Continetal cup on the way to the final with goals from Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs, Jennifer Beattie and a brace each from Vivianne Miedema and Kim Little.

Potential match winners:

Jordan Nobbs - Nobbs has been Arsenal’s standout performer this season so far, she is looking back to her best following an ACL injury.

She has scored in two consecutive matches with stunning strikes against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

Against Bristol City she will get chances and could add to her recent goalscoring form.

Nobbs breaks the lines extremely well and against Bristol City could be the key performer for Arsenal as they are expected to gain a comfortable victory.

Lia Wälti - Wälti was a key miss from the start against Manchester City, with the Robins expected to pack the midfield the Swiss International could be the key to unlock that area of the pitch.

Wälti is comfortable on the ball and in the absence of Little will be the key player in the Gunners midfield.

Carla Humphrey- Carla Humphrey is Bristol City’s key player in midfield, the former Arsenal youngster is extremely comfortable on the ball.

Humphrey aged 23 will be key to the Robins on Sunday as she could provide that moment of magic that could cause a shock result.

She will need to remain disciplined or Arsenal could play through the midfield at ease but one lapse of concentration in the Gunners midfield and she could take advantage.

Sophie Baggaley - Baggaley is one of the best goalkeepers in the WSL, an incredible shotstopper and as Arsenal are expected to have chances she will need to be on top of her game.

Baggaley is only 23 which is very young for a goalkeeper but her reactions are one of the best in the league and she has earned call-ups to the England senior squad already.

If Bristol City are to get anything out of the game she will need to be on alert at all times.

Whats been said:

Bristol City manager is excited to return to action as they’ve not played for three weeks due to the international break and not being involved in the FA Cup and she said: “Its probably the break we needed after the result against Chelsea,”

“Everyone could go away and reflect. Training the last 10 days has been exceptional, we had to look at ourselves in the mirror a little bit and really take some responsibility for individual mistakes and as a team as well, the girls have done that, and they’ve responded really well in training.

“We’ve challenged them all week in training about thinking about their individual roles within the group and taking responsibility for the good and the bad that happens. We’ve got a young group here and they’re learning every single day.

“We’ve got to get that balance right where we challenge them enough without breaking them, so I think they’ve been excellent like I said over the break and I’m looking forward to the next game.

“One thing I would say about this group is that they are together. I know from previous experiences at other clubs that sometimes results like that can fracture groups but that’s not the case here.

“Like I said we had a couple of days off they had a chance to reflect and they’ve been excellent. We ask them to challenge each other in training a little bit more, we’ve asked them to be more aggressive and they’ve done that, but at the same time they are very much a together group and that’s going to hold us in really good stead through the tough times.

“The game against Arsenal will mean that The Robins would’ve played two of last season’s top three in their first three games as well as a very strong Everton side, and Oxtoby urges people to not jump to early conclusions about her side ahead of a long season.

“We’ve said all along, don’t judge us on the first three games. We’ve been in this position before, it’s a very long, tough season, it’s going to have lots of ups and downs but we need to go to Arsenal and really embrace to the challenge which is what we’ve been banging on to the players about both individually and as a group.

“We’re looking at performances and we’re looking for people to stand up because that will give us the foundation moving forward for the rest of the season.”

How to watch:

The match will be broadcast live on the FA Player on Sunday afternoon with a 2pm kick-off time.

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