In a month’s time Arsenal’s women’s team will be in Spain trying to conquer Europe for a second time following their 2006/07 triumph and ahead of that the club have released both the new kit and squad numbers, but is the squad big enough?
The Champions League final eight play in the Basque Country where Arsenal will face France’s perennial runners-up, PSG, in the quarter-finals.
Thursday’s kit launch gave us the first pictures of the new recruits and their squad numbers.
Unless there is a new signing before the UEFA deadline on 18 August, we will have 20 professional players as follows:
Goalkeepers (3): 1. Manuela Zinsberger, 18. Lydia Williams, 24. Frances Stenson.
Defenders (7): 5. Jennifer Beattie, 6. Leah Williamson, 12. Stephanie Catley, 16. Noelle Maritz, 17. Lisa Evans, 20. Leonie Maier, 22. Viktoria Schnaderbeck.
Midfielders (5): 8. Jordan Nobbs, 10. Kim Little, 13. Lia Wälti, 14. Jill Roord, 21. Malin Gut.
Forwards (5): 7. Danielle van de Donk, 9. Beth Mead, 11. Vivianne Miedema, 15. Katie McCabe, 19. Caitlin Foord.
It’s worth noting that most players can actually play in at least three positions on the pitch as Joe Montemurro like players who are intelligent and flexible enough to play all over the pitch.
The five players in bold are those who will be added to the current Champions League squad as per the new regulations that allow six new signings, including a maximum of three from any other team still in the competition.
As UEFA allows a maximum of 25 players overall to be registered, it means another player can be added to Arsenal’s squad. It could be an Academy youngster, like Ruby Mace who is regularly training with the first team.
The other Academy player regularly training with them, Melisa Filis, is already registered in the Champions League squad.
So can this squad win the tournament?
The answer is yes, but it will not be easy.
The two favourites, Lyon and Wolfsburg, have really strong squads and all the teams still in the competition have signed a good numbers of players prior to the final eight mini-tournament.
Should Arsenal beat PSG, they would likely meet Lyon and that is a really tough game, unless FC Bayern managed to upset the holders.
Then in the final it is likely to be Wolfsburg, Barcelona or Atletico Madrid, and our former keeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin. Glasgow City are also still in the running but will play Wolfsburg in the quarter-final and it would be a giant upset if they beat the German champions.
There is a lot of strength in depth in Arsenal’s team. A lot more than last season and it is definitely needed as they could play three games to be played in nine days. With five subs allowed per game, the whole squad is likely to be involved should we go through to the final.
As there is not much time to integrate the new players, and we do not know yet how many friendlies will be played before the tournament next month, it is likely that the starting 11 against PSG will be very close to the one from last season.
I would expect this one: Zinsberger; Maier or Evans, Williamson, Beattie, Catley or McCabe; Wälti, Little, Nobbs; Van de Donk, Miedema, Mead or McCabe.
Hopefully, we can add another signing, though, as 18 outfield players would be a decent number that would provide proper cover when injuries inevitably occur during the season.