Arsenal get their league campaign under way on Thursday night against Notts County.
Notts County Ladies are a strong defensive side who have just lost at home to Chelsea in their season opener and they will certainly want to get all three points to kickstart their season and get back in the Champions League places race.
Notts County certainly cannot afford another defeat as it would mean they would likely to be nearly out of the title race early on.
Statistics say that all FA WSL winning teams managed to win the title with either zero or only two defeats.
Notts County have certainly recruited well with current and former England internationals and will try to score more goals this year than they did last.
This will be Arsenal Ladies first league game and, as usual, the Gunners will be chasing other teams that have played one or two games already.
The team could be six points behind the early leaders and that is a huge gap to catch up.
Historically, these games have always been a struggle with three draws and two 2-0 wins in the last two seasons.
Arsenal will need to take advantage of Notts County’s relative weaknesses at full back.
Danielle Carter gave Alex Greenwood a torrid time in last year’s FA Cup final for example.
They also have lost Desiree Scott, the Canadian destroyer, in midfield so there might be space to exploit for Losada or Nobbs.
Notts have a lot of pace up front so the defence will need to be alert for the runs from Williams, White and Clarke.
We should expect a tight game with not many goals scored.
As neither team can afford to loose, another draw might be on the card.
Who would you have?
Carly Telford in order to have three quality goalkeepers competing for the shirt.
Fiona O’Sullivan as she speaks French fluently and would not be out of place at Arsenal with that skill. She also is a strong forward with a different tactical profile from Arsenal players.
Opposition key players
Carly Telford in goal could be England’s number one at the World Cup; she is athletic, quick, and a superior kicking range to her competitors.
Laura Bassett took over the defensive leadership from Rachel Corsie who left Notts during the winter. She always leads by example.
Ellen White a proven goaslcorer who has just come back from an ACL injury
Jess Clarke scored 50% of Notts County League goals last term.
Notts County played the following line-up against Chelsea on Sunday:
Telford, Walton, Turner, Bassett, Greenwood, Buet, Whelan, Crichton, Clarke, Williams, White.
Arsenal could play with the following line up:
Chamberlain or Byrne, Scott, Stoney, Rose, Mitchell, Bailey, Losada, Nobbs, Sanderson, Carter, Sanchon.
Humphrey and Williamson are in England U19 camp and will not be involved.
Sampson is injured, Smith and Yankey doubtful.
Playing both sides
Casey Stoney was an important member of Lincoln Ladies* taking the unofficial role of manager on the pitch at times. She played for the Arsenal Ladies and left in 2002 to Charlton due to personal reasons. She came back to Arsenal from Lincoln in 2013.
Laura Bassett had a spell at Arsenal before moving on and has just signed for Notts County Ladies.
Danielle Buet was part of the squad that won the sextuple back in 2006/07, and the youngster was unlucky not to receive a UEFA Women’s Cup medal despite playing in the competition while senior players who did not get a game were rewarded with one. She has just signed to Notts County coming from Chelsea where she moved back to in 2007.
Dunia Susi was part of the Arsenal Ladies youth set-up making eight appearances with the reserves back in 2004/05
Ellen White also came through the youth set-up, left the club at the end of the u16 season in search of first team football. She came back from Leeds and was part of the last FA WSL title winning team back in 2012 before leaving like many other players following Shelley Kerr’s first successful season.
Last five games
07/09/14 Arsenal 2 Notts County 0 aet Weir, Smith FA WSL Conti Cup semi-final
27/07/14 Arsenal 1 Notts County 1 Stoney (pen), O’Sullivan
08/05/14 Notts County 1 Arsenal 1 Clarke, Alex Scott
04/10/13 Arsenal 2 Lincoln Ladies 0 White, Little
05/09/13 Arsenal 0 Lincoln Ladies 0
(*Lincoln Ladies franchise rights were transferred to Notts County Ladies at the end of the 2013 season)