Arsenal and Manchester City play at Meadow Park this Sunday. Last season’s top-two finishers will battle it out for a head-start on another title race.
The two heavyweights of the Women’s Super League go head-to-head for the first time this season.
Manchester City are the only side that have won all of their league games so far this season and Arsenal look as strong as ever despite taking a loss to Chelsea.
With the respective situations that both clubs find themselves in currently, this weekend’s game is turning out to be one of the biggest of the season. Even if we are only a month into it.
City’s injury woes
Nick Cushing’s Manchester City side have been fantastic so far this season. However, they are struggling hard when it comes to injuries to key players.
Aoife Mannion recently picked up an ACL injury that will see her miss most of, if not, all of the season.
Laura Coombs and Ellen White are both also dealing with long-term injuries. That’s already three key players that City are without.
Georgia Stanway is on her way back from injury, coming on as a substitute in last weekend’s clash with Manchester United.
Pauline Bremmer, Demi Stokes and Lauren Hemp have all spent time injured this season, too.
This situation would be an excuse for any team to drop away from the title picture. However, Cushing’s side are determined to stay in the fold and even lead the way.
City lost their first game of the season last weekend after being beaten 2-0 in the Conti Cup. Man United bested them in a hard-fought derby.
City do have to worry about Spanish champions, Atletico Madrid right now. Their Champions League draw was unkind and left them faced with one of the best sides on the planet.
Toni Duggan’s team were the second to score against City this season. Ellie Roebuck had kept six clean sheets in seven before that and now is two games without one.
Roebuck came into the side after Karen Bardsley’s injury ruled her out until Christmas. It now looks unlikely that the Lionesses’ No.1 will walk back into the City side.
She may have to find a new club in January, purely based on how good Roebuck has been.
Never count Arsenal out
Arsenal faltered against Chelsea two weeks ago but have looked flawless in every other game this season. Beth Mead and Danielle van de Donk have been on fire so far this season.
With the pair – along with Vivianne Miedema constantly lurking ready to strike – there’s always a fear that Arsenal could win every single game they have left this season.
Miedema was taken off during Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Charlton last weekend. Though there has been reassurances that this was just a precautionary measure.
She should be ready to come out of the gates firing against City this weekend.
Joe Montemurro has built a team of serial winners. Every player in the side is used to winning every competition they take part in.
Arsenal have scored 28 goals in all competitions so far this season and have scored four or more goals on five occasions already this campaign.
A season definer
Last season, the WSL came down to the two games between City and Arsenal.
City were one of two teams to take points from Arsenal last season, preventing them from getting that perfect 60 point tally.
It cannot be understated how important this fixture is in the WSL calendar. The winners of the league may well be decided by the two games between the sides.
Chelsea cannot be forgotten in this scenario either. The Blues sit on ten points currently. If City and Arsenal draw then Chelsea could realistically go top of the WSL with a win over West Ham.
City and Arsenal play their reverse fixture on February 2.