Arsenal’s faint hopes of Champions League qualification were given a boost on Friday as the Citizens dominated an error prone Manchester United 3-0.
Former Gunner, Caroline Weir got the pick of the goals with this sublime chip over Mary Earps:
Special game. Special goal. Special player.
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) February 13, 2021
The table shows Arsenal trailing Manchester United by nine points with two games in hand and a home game against the Red Devils that could end up being crucial.
That game is scheduled for Thursday 18 March at Borehamwood.
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) February 12, 2021
Arsenal also have a better goal difference than Manchester United by 10 goals, so should the teams finish level on points, Joe Montemurro’s side would end up ahead of their rivals.
The Gunners attempt to travel to Aston Villa for the third time, after the original game was postponed due to Covid-19 cases and the re-scheduled game was postponed due to bad weather and a waterlogged pitch.
It is another must win game for Arsenal and it will be their third game in seven days.
Considering we have just played Manchester City and Chelsea, some players will be tired and might need a rest. There are currently five players injured and we do not need to add more to the list by overplaying them. Especially as we did have a long period without games at the start of the year.
My guess is Maier, Gut and Patten, who were unused subs in both games, will start alongside Nobbs, who is back from injury.
Maritz is also now back to fitness and should get another start.
Williams was good in goal against Chelsea and should carry on, unless Joe Montermurro wants to give a game to Stenson.
Aston Villa should not offer the same pressing threat as City or Chelsea and will therefore allow the Gunners a bit more ease in building up play from the back.
It will be a different challenge, trying to go past a low or medium defensive block. That’s why fresh legs will be needed.
So, the possible XI could look like this: Williams; Maier or Patten, Williamson, Wubben-Moy or Patten, Maritz; Wälti, Gut, Roord; van de Donk, Miedema, Mead.
Of course, the weather might again conspire to postpone this game, which will lead to a fixture pile-up later in the season.
As of today (Saturday), there are only two teams who have played the 15 games planned as per the schedule: Manchester United and Brighton.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Reading have a game in hand, with two of those teams also in the Champions League.
Arsenal, West Ham and Bristol have two games in hand, while Everton, Tottenham and Aston Villa have three games in hand.
The Arsenal know that they need to win every remaining game to have a chance of making the top three and qualification for the Champions league, unless United collapse and drop many more points.