Birmingham City Ladies v Arsenal Ladies in the FA Women’s Cup fifth round will be the first official game for the Arsenal Ladies 2016.

It will be an open game as both sides are likely to be a little rusty.

The game will be a special occasion for Blues to remember their former player Steph Williams who lost her battle to cancer last Saturday.

“The Club will be conducting a minute’s applause prior to Sunday’s fixture and all Blues Ladies players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect.

“The Club will be retiring Steph’s shirt in her memory and for this season her
name and number will be included in the squad list. She will never be forgotten”.

Opposition preview

Birmingham City Ladies have lost three players during the winter window: Carney, Spencer and Weston, and managed to sign Liverpool’s left back Schroeder. They managed to keep their other in-demand players like Potter, Moore and Allen.

They will be tough to beat and because they have not made many changes to their squad, they will hit the ground running. As underdogs, they managed to beat us a few times during the 2013/14 season in the Champions League and in the League.

The Arsenal players will need to be ready and firing at 100% if they want to avoid an upset and go out of the competition in the first game of the tournament.

Opposition key players

Kirsty Linnett, the England u23 forward, will be tasked to score goals and she has pace to burn.

Melissa Lawley, the England u23 winger, will now shoulder the main responsibility to be the creative hub for the Blues following Karen Carney’s departure to Chelsea.

Kerys Harrop, the center-back, will hold the defence together alongside Aoife Mannion.

Sophie Baggaley, promoted number one goalkeeper following Becky Spencer’s transfer to Chelsea, will have an important role for Blues.

Predicted line-ups

Birmingham: Baggaley, Windell Mannion Harrop Schroeder, Moore Potter Carter, Linnett Ayisi Lawley.

Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Scott Stoney Henning Mitchell, Williams Nobbs Losada, Corredera Sanchon Carter.

Playing both sides

Meg Sargeant, Melissa Lawley, Kirsty Linnett, Freda Ayisi, Alex Scott, Rachel Yankey, Jemma Rose.

Last five games

  • 11/10/ 2015 Arsenal 3 Birmingham 1 Conti Cup
  • 04/10/2015 Arsenal 1 Birmingham 0 League
  • 19/07/2015 Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1 League
  • 31/08/2014 Birmingham 1 Arsenal 2 League
  • 21/05/2014 Arsenal 0 Birmingham 2 League

Arsenal will be favourites to go through, but if the team is not at 100% the Blues will be ready to pounce on any slip-up. It will be a tough first game of the 2016 season.