Sunderland Ladies have been the surprise package in the FA WSL 1.

As the promoted team they were expected to compete to avoid relegation but are still in the Champions League places race with two games to go.

They are a very solid team that is well drilled defensively and have an efficient goalscorer with the league’s top scorer, Bethany Mead, on 11 goals in 12 games.

Arsenal will need special skills to unlock the Black Cats’ defence as seen in the home game that was heading for a 0-0 draw until Kelly Smith came on to turn the game on.

Opposition key players

Bethany Mead – 11 goals in 12 league games says it all. Her conversion rate could be better though and it might be why she has not been selected for the England seniors yet.

Stephanie Roche – the FIFA Puskas Award runner-up has come to Sunderland after being released by NWSL side Houston Dash.

Abbie Holmes –  a strong defender though she is an harvester type and injured Kelly Smith in the home game and is known to have injured other players through the years. Arsenal players will have to be wary of her tackling ‘prowess’.

Match preview

This is the penultimate League game and both sides will need a win to stay in the title/champions league place race. Arsenal trail Chelsea by five points and City by three making it a must win game.

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Sunderland are a point behind Arsenal, so it is also a must win game for them as well.

The game is being played after the international break and Arsenal had many players travelling around the world including a 14,000 round trip for the Spanish trio.

England and Netherlands’ players did not travel that far so should not be too tired.

Sunderland also had a couple of players on international duty.

Playing both sides

Jordan Nobbs came through the extremely succesfull Sunderland youth set-up

Victoria Williams was a member of 1991 generation at the Arsenal Academy alongside Coombs, Spencer, Flaherty to name a few.

Who would you have ?

There is a rumour going around that Arsenal tried to sign Bethany Mead and she might have been interested in joining but Sunderland were not interested in selling. She also signed a contract to with them until 2019. She is an up and coming talent. I would not have signed her for multiple reasons but Pedro Losa knows what he is doing.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland : Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Williams, Greenwell, Furness, McDougall Ramshaw Chaplen, Joice, Mead

Arsenal : Van Veenendaal, Scott Stoney Rose Mitchell, Bailey Losada Nobbs , Carter Pablos Sanchon Ubogagu

Last fixture:

26/05/2015 Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1 FA WSL 1