Preview: Manchester City look to get back to winning ways against Arsenal

Arsenal celebrate after scoring.
Arsenal celebrate after scoring against Chelsea during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match at the Emirates Stadium, London on Sunday 5 September 2021. (Photo by MI News)

Meadow Park and Arsenal will welcome Manchester City on the evening of Sunday 26 September. This promises to be a thrilling encounter between two title contenders.

The Gunners have a made an impressive start to the 2021/22 season as they are unbeaten in six matches under their new manager, Jonas Eidevall. Arsenal are one of four teams who have a 100% win record so far after the first two game weeks.

They saw off last year’s champions Chelsea in a 3-2 win at the Emirates on opening weekend. Vivianne Miedema’s brace at Reading helped them to secure a 4-0 victory over Kelly Chamber’s side. Arsenal are currently in the top half of the table heading into game week three.

Opposition

Manchester City have had a tricky start to the 2021/22 campaign, having bowed out of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in the early stages to Real Madrid. Across the two ties, the Spanish side went through (2-1) on aggregate. 

City won their opening game of the Women’s Super League season impressively. The side earned a 4-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park in front of a large audience. Goals from new signings Bunny Shaw and Vicky Losada gave the blues something to cheer about.

The following weekend saw a shock defeat when Tottenham Hotspur visited the Academy Stadium. The home side were quick out of the blocks with an early goal by Lauren Hemp, a header at the near post following a corner. 

Spurs came back flying in the second half. Rachel Williams equalised for the visitors in the 61st minute. A very controversial decision in the late stages led to the winning goal being awarded. What looked like an obvious handball by Spurs’ Rosella Ayane was allowed in the build up of play before the ball bounced into City’s net. The home side called for the handball, but the referees allowed the play. The goal stood, and the Citizens fell, 2-1.

Previous meetings

The last time these two sides met was back in February. Manchester City claimed all three points on a vital day in a tight title race.

City opened the scoring at the 24 minute mark, after an inviting ball from Chloe Kelly found Ellen White. The striker fired her first time effort in off the inside of the crossbar. 

Ellen White celebrates her goal.
Manchester City’s Ellen White celebrates her goal as Arsenal players look dejected during the FA Women’s Super League match at Meadow Park, London on 7 February 2021. (Photo by John Walton)

Arsenal got back into the game after a swift counter attack left Caitlin Foord in loads of space on the edge of the box. The Arsenal forward picked her spot and placed the ball into the bottom corner past Ellie Roebuck. 

The second half saw an entertaining battle between the sides. However, Hemp’s late header from another of Kelly’s crosses into the far corner did the damage and won the points for City. 

Predicted XIs

Arsenal: Zinsberger; Martiz, Williamson, Beattie, Catley; Walti, Little, Iwabuchi; Mead, Miedema, McCabe. 

Manchester City: Taieb; Mace, Kennedy, Angeldahl, Stokes; Coombs, Losada, Weir; Beckie, White, Hemp. 

Players to watch

Arsenal: Beth Mead

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Arsenal’s No.9 has been in glistening form for both her club and country in the early stages of the season. She has a combined total of five goals and four assists across her last eight games.

The winger’s electrifying pace will cause Manchester City’s fullbacks a problem throughout the evening. City’s defence will also have to be wary and minimise her crosses into the box from wide positions as they often pose a threat. 

Manchester City: Lauren Hemp

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On the other side of the ball, City’s Lauren Hemp can also cause a lot of issues for the opposing defence. Her ability to run at speed with the ball under control makes her a fullback’s nightmare.

The number 15 has been directly involved in 22 goals in her last 21 Women’s Super League starts. (11 goals and 11 assists) That includes two goals scored in three starts against Arsenal.

Team news

The home side have a number of players who will return ahead of Sunday’s encounter.

First, Jordan Nobbs and new signing Tobin Heath will be available for selection after completing a training session prior to the game.

Caitlin Foord of Arsenal looks on.
Caitlin Foord of Arsenal during the FAWSL match against Brighton and Hove Albion at The People’s Pension Stadium, Crawley on 11 October 2020. (Photo by Andy Rowland)

Caitlin Foord will also be available to play after recovering from a recent quad strain which kept her out of the latest Matildas squad. 

Frida Maanum and Noelle Maritz will also be available despite having late injury scares whilst on international duty. 

Manchester City

Gareth Taylor will be without quite a few of his players who are missing through various injuries. 

Alex Greenwood is currently being assessed after she was substituted off in England’s 10-0 win over Luxembourg midweek. It’s unknown whether she will feature or not. 

Captain Steph Houghton withdrew from the latest set of England internationals with an injury. It has now been confirmed that she has suffered an injury to her Achilles, leaving her in a protective boot and unavailable for Sunday’s match. 

Kiera Walsh and Steph Houghton celebrate.
Kiera Walsh of Manchester City celebrates scoring with Steph Houghton during the the FA Women’s Super League match at Academy Stadium, Manchester on 7 March 2021. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Sportimage)

Fellow defender Esme Morgan is also ruled out after suffering a leg fracture in the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. 

Midfielder Keira Walsh is closing on a return, but Taylor states the game at Arsenal comes too soon for her.

Australian international Hayley Raso also withdrew from the latest Matildas squad after picking up a shoulder injury. The latest update suggests she is still struggling and won’t feature this weekend. 

Right-back Lucy Bronze is also unavailable as she works her way back from a recent knee operation. Chloe Kelly remains a long-term absentee as she continues to recover from an ACL injury. 

There was some positive news. Scotland international Caroline Weir is available to play after recovering from a knee injury. 

Where to watch

The match will be streamed live on Sunday evening across Sky Sports Football, Main Event and Showcase channels for UK viewers. Coverage will begin at 18:15 p.m. with a 18.45 p.m. kick-off.

In the US, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will allow viewers to stream the match live.

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