The Gunners defeated Lewes 2-0 on Sunday with goals from new signing Caitlin Foord and Danielle van de Donk to set up a mouth watering quarterfinal tie against Tottenham Hotspur.

Caitlin Foord and Danielle van de Donk of Arsenal Women during the FA Cup match vs Lewes FC Women
Caitlin Foord and Danielle van de Donk of Arsenal Women during the FA Cup match vs Lewes FC Women (via Arsenal Women Twitter @ArsenalWFC)

Joe Montemurro put a solid team out against the Championship side with an experimental front three consisting of Foord and two youngsters in Ruby Grant and Melisa Filis.

The manager was full of praise for the two Academy players: “One of the things I love as a coach is to give opportunities to young players. It came today, I was very happy to give them 60 minutes to get used to the rhythm and the tempo. It is a higher tempo that they are used to. Hopefully we can give them more minutes in the future to get used to that tempo.”

And obviously pleased with his Australian striker contribution: It was vintage Caitlin Foord, she is very good with her back to goal. She is also very good at running at players. Her defensive qualities very very good also.”

Joe also said there was a lot of room for improvement:She will find the rhythm, she will find the spaces. She has only been here a week. She will get used to the tempo here, it is  a more ball possession tempo that she is used to in the US which is more transitional. We will see a player that will add a big value to us”.

The midfield three was a bit unbalanced with three midfielders of a similar profile in Jordan Nobbs, Jill Roord and Danielle van de Donk. It meant there a bit of a struggle to develop our usual build-up from the back football. This problem was solved by going round Lewes with use of the two wingers.

The defencee was composed of Leonie Maier, Louise Quinn, Jennifer Beattie and Viktoria Schnaderbeck. In goal Manuela Zinsberger was selected ahead of Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

The Arsenal manager rotated his squad and left a few players on the bench in preparation for the Conti Cup final. It is interesting to note that he left Katie McCabe on the bench as she was under threat of a one game ban if booked on Sunday, but he did give 90 minutes to Danielle van de Donk who was in exactly the same position. Thankfully, the Dutch winger was not booked and will be available next Saturday.

Lewes defended very well and reached the half-time break with a 0-0 scoreline. Foord got her first goal, on her debut, thanks to an assist from van de Donk who was found on the right wing by an excellent Jill Roord ball. The Australian striker finished from close range to make it 1-0.

The Dutch winger scored the second late in the game as a Lewes goal kick by our former keeper Sophie Harris was intercepted by Vivianne Miedema. She then cut it back to her fellow countrywoman for an easy tap for 2-0 and game over.

Overall it was quite a comfortable win for the Gunners and a good preparation game for the FA WSL Continental Cup final next weekend.

And because all good news tends to come at once, the 3-3 league draw between Manchester City and Chelsea threw the Gunners a lifeline in their Champions League race, too.

Our title hopes are still very much non-existent, but the chances of the runners-up place is more realistic now. We are three points behind Chelsea, with the same number of games played and four points behind City with a game in hand.

Then, comes the harsh realisation that nearly no one picks up points off the top three teams:

It means we will need a gigantic effort from some of the other nine teams to grab a point from Chelsea at least.

As someone mentioned, Manchester United might end up being the kingmakers as they still have to play the top three sides. If Casey Stoney could do us a favor and get points out of both sides, that would be very appreciated.

Next up is the FA WSL Conti Cup final and Arsenal will be underdogs against an unbeaten Chelsea side.

Let’s hope Joe Montemurro can find a tactical plan to nullify Chelsea’s multiple threats and exploit their defensive weaknesses.