Arsenal ladies face Bristol Academy on Wednesday night looking to kickstart their season.
As usual with the FA WSL bizarre scheduling, Wednesday’s game will see the delayed FA WSL 1 matchday 1 game against Bristol Academy played.
It is a must win game for the Gunners who are currently trailing the League Leaders Chelsea by five points and second placed Manchester City by four points. Any win would actually put the Gunners back where they belong i.e. in the Champions League place.
A draw or a defeat would open a can of worms and serious questions would need be asked. The current form is not the greatest with the only win coming against WSL2 team Millwall, while a draw at Notts County and a defeat at home to Chelsea against tough opposition show that the team will need to be at its best to win games.
Bristol Academy come to Borehamwood on the back of a disastrous season start.
There are similarities with what happened to Arsenal last year: high turnover of player with replacements brought in who are not at the same level and a subsequent disaster in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Their current form is poor, they lost 5-0 at home to Frankfurt then got defeated in the FA Women’s Cup three days later by WSL 2 side Everton 2-1 after extra time. The following Sunday they lost 7-0 in Frankfurt in the Champions League second leg and their League opener at home yielded a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea Ladies.
Four games four defeats, one goal scored, eighteen goals conceded.
They lost five important players during the winter break and have replaced them with players with potential who have not shown it yet. As with any team that are rebuilding, they need time to gel and in a 14-game season time is not really available.
It also does not help that they do not train as often as the other teams and their budget is by far the lowest in the division.
Who would you have?
Angharad James: the Welsh international is a proven number eight player and would be useful in cementing the Arsenal midfield.
Hayley Ladd: another Welsh international who is an excellent defensive midfielder and with Arsenal short of playesr in that position, she would be a great asset. She can also play at centre back where there is also a shortage of players.
Opposition key players
Mary Earps: the goalkeeper is in fine form and is likely to be busy
Jasmine Matthews: a solid defender anchoring a fragile defence
Nikki Watts: the forward scored many goals last year and will need to score more to keep Bristol up this season
Arsenal: Byrne, Scott, Stoney, Rose, Mitchell, Williamson, Nobbs, Sanderson, Carter, Ubogagu.
Bristol: Earps, Dykes, Matthews, McCatty, Townsend, James, Ladd, Ingle, Murray, Watts, Evans.
Playing both sides
Christie Murray, the Scottish playmaker was signed by Shelley Kerr from Glasgow City but did not get much playing time and was released in the winter before being snapped up by Bristol.
Hayley Ladd came through the Centre of Excellence and played a couple of games for the first team before moving on to Coventry while studying at Loughborough. She has just signed to Academy.
Angharad James came through the Arsenal Academy in the very successful 93/94 generation then moved on loan to Bristol and was transferred quickly as she had established herself as a first team choice under Mark Sampson.
Natalia Pablos Sanchon arrived in England with the female Michu tag and scored many goals for Academy before moving in the winter to be reunited with Pedro Losa at Arsenal.
Jemma Rose, the centre back spent the last three seasons at Academy and was named captain during last season. She also moved on during the winter to improve her chance of playing for England.
Siobhan Chamberlain did not miss any game with Bristol for the first there FA WSL season, moved to Arsenal before the 2014 season and has seen limited appearances due to the competition with Emma Byrne.
Last 5 games
20/09/2014 Bristol 3 Arsenal 4
25/05/2014 Arsenal 0 Bristol 2
30/05/2013 Arsenal 3 Bristol 2
26/05/2013 Arsenal 3 Bristol 0
19/05/2013 Arsenal 4 Bristol 2
Four wins in the last five, the only defeat sealed Shelley Kerr’s fate as she resigned following a run of four defeats in a row.
Arsenal should go for the jugular in this game as Bristol will be lacking in confidence after shipping so many goals in their last four games.
There should be definitely many goals, hopefully all for Arsenal.