Arsenal edge closer to Champions League place

Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Englan Jordan Nobbs 8 Arsenal celebrates after scoring during the FA Womens Super League match between Arsenal and Brighton FC at Meadow Park in Borehamwood. FA Womens Super League - Arsenal v Brighton FC
Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Englan Jordan Nobbs 8 Arsenal celebrates after scoring during the FA Womens Super League match between Arsenal and Brighton FC at Meadow Park in Borehamwood. FA Womens Super League - Arsenal v Brighton FC

Arsenal are very close to qualifying for the Champions League following their 2-0 win against Brighton on Sunday.

Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Englan Beth Mead 9 Arsenal stands on during the FA Womens Super League match between Arsenal and Brighton FC at Meadow Park in Borehamwood. FA Womens Super League - Arsenal v Brighton FC
Meadow Park, Borehamwood, Englan Beth Mead 9 Arsenal stands on during the FA Womens Super League match between Arsenal and Brighton FC at Meadow Park in Borehamwood. FA Womens Super League – Arsenal v Brighton FC

Arsenal successfully avoided what could have been a banana skin and two wins from the next two games will ensure the return of Champions League football for Arsenal women.

Joe Montemurro made many of changes to his starting 11 from the side that beat Gillingham last week. He started with  Manuela Zinsberger; Anna Patten, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Katie McCabe; Kim Little, Jill Roord, Danielle van de Donk; Jordan Nobbs, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead. The subs used were Lia Walti, Caitlin Foord and Jill Roord.

With the games coming thick and fast, it makes sense to rotate the players, especially those who were heavily involved in international football. It was also nice to see Steph Catley back in the matchday squad and, hopefully, she can get a few minutes on Wednesday as she has barely featured at all with 135 minutes played across two starts and three games as a sub.

Brighton had managed to beat Chelsea and Manchester United recently and Arsenal did well thanks to a Jordan Nobbs brace to get three very important points. Arsenal and United are now level on points (41) with the Gunners goal difference at +45 while United are at +21.

United can get up to 47 points and Arsenal only need to match that total, thanks to their better goal difference. That means two wins from West Ham at home on Wednesday, Everton away on Sunday and Aston Villa on the final day will guarantee Champions League football next season.

West Ham will provide an interesting challenge on Wednesday. They play a 3-4-2-1 system with wing-backs who are defenders rather than wingers. They have a very small squad that includes the youngster Anouk Denton who was previously with us. We still don’t know if she is there on loan or if she has definitely transferred to the Hammers.

Due to multiple injuries, they have a settled starting 11 as follows: Brosnan, Flaherty, Fisk, Cissoko or Vetterlein; Redisch, Longhurst, Brynjarsdottir, Pacheco; van Egmond, Dali; Thomas. They can play long to Thomas who is very good at holding the ball or through the middle via their two powerhouses van Egmond or Brynjarsdottir or if they want more flair or creativity they can use their French playmaker Dali.

There is no doubt that the Arsenal game is a bonus match for them as they will face Villa on Sunday at Villa Park in what will be a relegation six-pointer. They also made no substitutions on Sunday and tiredness might be a problem late in the game on Wednesday.

Arsenal will have to be at their best against a defence that has kept four clean sheets in a row to get the three points and move them within three points of a Champions League return.