Arsenal Women are back in action tomorrow, as the resumption of the Womens Champions League kicks off.
The Gunners are at the Quarter-Final stage of the tournament and face off against French giant Paris Saint-Germain. The mens team have had a stranglehold of Ligue Un for some time, but it is Lyon who are the real strength in this tournament, having won it for the last four seasons.
The Arsenal Women will be playing in the new away shirt for the first time, marking its competitive debut. Let's hope they can mark it with a win.
Arsenal, should they overcome PSG, will then take on Lyon in the semi-finals. The Champions League, like the mens version, is taking the one-leg format and all ties will be played in Spain over the course of nine days.
There could be a small advantage for the likes of PSg and Lyon already, having been in competitive action recently, but Arsenal Women having not kicked a ball since before the lockdown and the Womens Super League curtailed before it could reach the end.
But Arsenal do boast a strong squad with international class peppered throughout. Some new signings such as Malen Gut and Steph Catley have bolstered the squad and given Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro plenty of options, and some players have returned from injury to boost our eleven.
The likes of midfield dynamo Lia Walti is now fit and could go into the side, but Montemurro will likely opt for width from deep to stretch PSG.
Intrinsic to that plan will be full-backs Katie McCabe and Lisa Evans, but Catley could make her debut in place of Evans, or with Evans pushed further forward.
Captain Kim Little will provide the impetus in the centre of the park and Danielle Van De Donk will be the schemer who can unlock our French opponents should the game become cagey. Up top, we have the ever-reliant goal giant that is Vivianne Miedema to put away any chances that should come her way.
With it being played in an independent venue, there will be no home favourite, with both teams having just ninety minutes to progress. No away goals, no aggregate – Arsenal need to assert their dominance and superiority from the off.
PSG have their dangers however.
Player to Watch
Kadidatou Diani is part of the French national side and has a great scoring ratio this season. PSG also recently signed Ramona Bachmann from Chelsea and Bachmann is well versed against English opposition. Both are physical but Diani possesses real pace whereas Bachmann will give Williamson and Beattie a real tough workout.
How this could go
We could be rusty, but our adaptability will be key here.
Their last game was the Coup de France final, losing to Lyon on penalties, so they can go toe to toe with the best – we need to be watchful. PSG will be fitter as they have been in action recently, but we have plenty of options from the bench should we find ourselves fighting uphill – such as Jill Roord, Caitlin Foord and Noelle Maritz. Alternatively, they could all start the game, such is their pedigree.
Montemurro knows this is a great opportunity and also great experience for his side. These are the matches we want to be taking part in – let’s hope our Gunners give it their all.
Predicted Lineup – Zinsberger, Catley, Beattie, Williamson, McCabe, Nobbs, Little, Walti, Van De Donk, Evans, Miedema
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal