Arsenal vs. Wolfsburg: Who’s going to the UWCL Final?

Arsenal's Laura Wienroither and Wolfsburg's Sveindis Jonsdottir compete for the ball.
Arsenal's Laura Wienroither and Wolfsburg's Sveindis Jonsdottir face off during the 2022–23 UWCL semi-final 1st leg. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFP) (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal hosts Wolfsburg in the second leg of their UWCL semi-final this Monday. The two sides are even after one of the most exciting first legs last Sunday. We take a look at the winner-take-all matchup that will determine who faces Barcelona in the final.

How did we get here?

The two sides enter the tilt at the Emirates on Monday all square after last week’s absolute belter. Wolfsburg raced out to a quick 2-0 lead by the 24th minute. A wonderful offensive run of play was finished by Ewa Pajor just 19 minutes in. Just five minutes after that, an absolute nightmare at Arsenal’s back line led to the easiest goal Sveindis Jonsdottir has ever scored in her career.

Wolfsburg looked to cruise, as Arsenal was held at bay for the first half. However, just before the whistle, a perfect corner found defender Rafaelle, who planted a perfect header. The Gunners took the momentum into the second half and were rewarded. A great passing play brought the ball from left to right where the attack found Lotte Wubben-Moy. She sent a terrific ball to Victoria Pelova, who spotted a wide-open Stina Blackstenius. The striker took the gift on a silver platter and tied the match.

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Both teams had chances in the remainder, but neither could convert. As the match went on, the play was strong and tough throughout. A lasting image fans will take is Wolfsburg’s Lena Oberdorff committing a late hard foul on Lia Walti.

Not about to let that go, Arsenal’s Katie McCabe charged Oberdorf and laid her out with a tough body check. A small fracas ensued, with both players receiving yellow cards. Football players being football players, Oberdorf and McCabe got their cards, then embraced and laughed about the situation.

The wildly entertaining fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, and the sides will play for all the marbles in London.

What to look for

The two teams will face off at the Emirates on Monday at 12:45.

At the time of writing, (Saturday, 18:00) the match had sold 59,000 tickets and will likely sell out. A raucous home crowd will undoubtedly help the Gunners, and Wolfsburg fans will be there in great numbers as well.

Look for both sides to play the same style they featured in the first leg. Both sides looked good and each had their share of better play at times. Arsenal will certainly address communication on the defense to avoid miscues like Jonsdottir’s goal. Wolfsburg will want to focus on being more clinical in the final third.

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The Arsenal midfield looked very strong and will need to dictate play for the home side. Having McCabe on the wing is a boon for Arsenal, as the versatile firebrand can play almost anywhere on the pitch. Wolfsburg needs to rely on that terrific frontline. Pajor and Jonsdottir gave the Arsenal defense nightmares all match last time, and Jill Roord is always a threat.

Projected Lineups

We do not expect major changes, as both sides played well in the first leg.

Wolfsburg: Frohms; Wilms, Hendrich, Janssen, Rauch; Oberdorf, Roord; Huth, Waßmuth, Jonsdottir, Pajor.

Arsenal: Zinsberger; Rafaelle, Beattie, Wubben-Moy; Catley, Walti, Maanum, Maritz; McCabe, Blackstenius, Pelova

What will happen?

This upcoming UWCL match will be a barn burner. The sides are evenly matched, and both have plenty of scoring ability. Arsenal may have an edge in experience, and Wolfsburg may have an edge in athleticism. Look for lots of chances, and several great finishes. We expect some scoring, and this match could easily go to PKs. With everything on the line, look for both sides to leave it all on the pitch.

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