This weekend, Arsenal are away to City in a title decider that could shape the season.
A win would open a nine-point gap, while a defeat would close the gap for City to just three points.
In terms of the starting 11, Joe Montemurro has only one choice to make. He has 10 fit senior outfield players, so it is either Sari van Veenendaal or Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in goal. The Dutch goalie has got the nod in the last two games and you would expect continuity with her between the posts on Sunday.
In terms of organisation and system, the 4-3-3 from the Brighton game should be selected, if the manager is looking at continuity.
A 4-1-2-3 against such a strong side as City would be a declaration of attacking intent and, to be fair, with the side’s current form and Montemurros’ attacking philosophy, the manager could choose that one. The defensive transitions could be at risk, however, against such a pacy side as City.
A 3-4-3 is another available option to counter certain City-specific threats. It gives the team a certain compactness, something that is needed at the top level. It would also add a third, quicker centre-back. The pair we used against Brighton were exposed at times.
As for the bench, the team has no senior outfield players available, so the same Academy players we used in the last two games will be involved: Ava Kuyken, Paige Bailey-Gayle and Ruby Grant.
As we previously mentioned, there is a bizarre rule that prevents the team from having more than three Academy players on the bench, but there is another rule that might allow us to bring an extra player in.
So, the starting 11 looks to be exactly the same as the one that started against Brighton in a 4-3-3 formation:
Sari van Veenendaal; Lisa Evans, Leah Williamson, Louise Quinn, Emma Mitchell; Lia Wätli, Dominique Bloodworth, Danielle van de Donk; Katie McCabe, Anna Miedema, Bethany Mead.
It’s a pity that the injury list prevents the manager having more options and variety in the squad, but the same thing happened to City a couple of seasons ago.
They only had eleven fit players and it did them no harm in the end.
Arsenal player ratings v Brighton
Arsenal Women carried on their winning streak with a 4-1 win over Brighton and will go into the early title decider away to City with a six-point cushion.
Arsenal did a very professional job and never panicked, even after going 1-0 down early in the game. The team was at its best in terms of attacking fluency and ended scoring four goals to keep up their average scoring record of 4.67 goals per game.
Here is how the players performed last weekend:
1Sari van Veenendaal 6.5
Now back in the side after missing out on a few games. She seemed a bit slow coming off her line to cloe the angle for the Umotong goal, but otherwise a solid performance.
2Lisa Evans 7
Another steady game where she tried to get forward as often as possible.
3Leah Williamson 6.5
Seemed to have an on-going verbal battle with the referee who was very inconsistent and Mike Deanesque. Could have done better on the Brighton goal, alongside Louise Quinn, as the two centre-backs seemed to misunderstand each other. Did not hesitate to go forward at times to help the attack
4Louise Quinn 6.5
Solid and alert performance, but could have done better on the Brighton goal in terms of communication with Leah Williamson as ending up with a 2 v 1 when the defenders are outmuscled by the forward is surprising.
5Emma Mitchell 7
The Captain lead by example as usual with a committed performance. Her leadership and experience is even more important with key players injured.
6Lia Waelti 7
Steady as ever in a different midfield configuration, she always guarantees a good performance
7Dominque Bloodworth 7.5
Voted the Arsenal Supporters club player of the match, a very good attacking contribution from central midfield with a goal.
8Danielle van de Donk 8
Played very well in the playmaker/second striker position. She roamed between the lines and offered options to the other players. She scored from a header on a corner, something you would not expect from her.
9Beth Mead 8.5
One assist, one superb goal. A constant poison for Brighton’s defence, battering them and taking on defenders on both wings.
10Anna Miedema 8
Miedema saw many shots blocked or saved but kept going and got reward with a clever goal to draw the game level. Very sharp, as usual, and in fantastic form. There was a slight worry with a back injury when she was subbed late in the game.
11Katie McCabe 7
A quieter game compared to the other forwards in term of goal and assists, but she is important in opening spaces and providing passing options to the other forwards with her movement off the ball.