Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal Women are the next side to visit the Academy Stadium in a busy week of home fixtures for the Blues.
Arsenal Ladies, as they were then, formed in 1987 by Vic Akers and have been a big name in the women’s game ever since, winning plenty of trophies such as the Continental Cup, SSE Women’s FA Cup and the elusive UEFA Women’s Cup before it was rebranded as the UWCL.
This year has been no exception and since appointing Australian Joe Montemurro as their manager, Arsenal have won the Continental Cup and have won all nine WSL games so far this season.
The Gunners have beaten almost all of their opponents by large margins, for example they beat Chelsea FC Women 5-0, Yeovil Town Ladies 7-0 and Reading FC Women 6-0 however West Ham United threw up a bigger threat than expected and Arsenal had to come from behind; twice.
Not only did the they have to overcome West Ham, they have also had to come from behind to beat Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend, eventually beating the club 4-1.
Two players have been at the heart of their wins, Lionesses midfielder and vice-captain Jordan Nobbs and Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema. Miedema is already the clubs top scorer this season and will no doubt be a threat when the Blues host the London club.
Since his appointment, Montemurro has brought in Lyon goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, the Turbine Potsdam duo of German international Tabea Kemme and Swiss international Lia Wälti, Austrian Viktoria Schnaderbeck from Bayern Munich and most recently Danish and Linköpings FC defender Janni Arnth.
Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, defenders Leah Williamson and Louise Quinn, midfielders Jordan Nobbs and Danielle van de Donk and forward Danielle Carter are just some of the players to sign either new contracts or contract extensions as well as Montemurro himself.
While they may have a relatively big squad, they have been unlucky with injuries recently as Jordan Nobbs and Dan Carter are out with ACL’s, Nobbs’s injury happening only recently in their win over Everton. Viktoria Schnaderbeck and Tabea Kemme are also out with knee injuries, Kemme after having a reaction to the operation she had earlier this year and Schnaderbeck also out after surgery.
Influential player and captain Kim Little is out with a fractured fibula picked up in their 5-0 victory of Chelsea while Jessica Samuelsson fractured her foot in Sweden’s game against England in Rotherham, possibly worsening a previous injury she picked up on international duty earlier in the year.
Man City aren’t without their own injury problems with Megan Campbell still not back in training following her horrible ACL injury last year however this week brought some good news as Demi Stokes made her first start against Yeovil following some time out and Keira Walsh also returned following the injury that sidelined her from Lionesses duty.
Also on the return to training this week were Karen Bardsley, Lauren Hemp and Pauline Bremer, Bardsley travelling with the team to Dorchester.
Man City played three games against the Gunners last season, twice in the league and once in the Continental Cup final with Arsenal coming out winners 2/3, however City put five past them in their opening game of the season, losing away in one of their last.
This weekend’s game is a battle of the top two and possibly the most important game of the season for both clubs regarding the WSL title. Arsenal sit at the top of the table on 27 points, six ahead of City who are on 21, however both teams remain unbeaten in league and its certain to be a good clash.
Kick off at the Academy Stadium is at 12:30pm and will be streamed on the BBC Red Button and online with tickets available from £2.50.