Monday night will see us go head-to-head with Manchester United for the first-ever time in Women’s Super League history.
We head into this fixture having made the perfect start to 2019/20, securing victories in each of our opening WSL and Women’s Champions League outings.
A stunning strike from Beth Mead and a debut goal from Jill Roord guided us to a 2-1 win over West Ham on the opening day of the season, while a Vivianne Miedema masterclass saw us defeat Fiorentina 4-0 in our first European fixture in five years. The Netherlands international struck twice and was joined on the scoresheet by Kim Little and Lisa Evans.
It was a dream return to Champions League football - but things could have taken a dramatic turn against the Hammers just four days earlier in the WSL, when we were defending for our lives in the closing stages after giving away an indirect free-kick inside our own penalty area. Thankfully summer signing Manuela Zinsberger was quick off her line to produce a fine diving save.
Despite that late scare, we showed plenty of promise in the final third, recording a higher xG measurement (2.07) than another side on the opening day. No other side scored more than once, with four of the other five games settled by the odd goal in 1-0 wins, and the other ending 0-0.
The last - and to date only - time we faced Manchester United under their current name, we ran out 2-1 winners in the third round of the FAWSL Cup last season. Miedema was the scorer of both goals.
Despite being a newly-promoted side, Manchester United have plenty of experience in their squad and delivered a promising performance on the opening day against Manchester City.
They were beaten 1-0 following a sublime long-range effort by Caroline Weir, but will be encouraged by the defensive resilience and organisation shown. Something they’ll need in abundance if they want to stop our free-flowing frontline.
United gained promotion last season after winning 18 of their 20 FA Women’s Championship fixtures, scoring 98 and conceding seven. They haven’t rested on their laurels, though, as they’ve strengthened their squad with a number of quality signings.
Abbie McManus and Mary Earps join the club from Manchester City and Wolfsburg respectively, helping to form a reliable defence, while Netherlands midfielder Jackie Groenen will be a known quantity to her international teammates, Miedema, Roord and Danielle van de Donk. Former West Ham striker Jane Ross provides quality in the final third.
Standing on the touchline for United will be a familiar face in Casey Stoney. Stoney played more Women’s Super League matches for Arsenal than she did for any other side in the competition (39 apps, five goals).
ONES TO WATCH
“Arsenal’s midfield is very fluid with plenty of attacking talent, so the players naturally interchange. But when Kim Little plays close to Vivianne Miedema, magic tends to happen. The pair created goals for one another with neat interplay in Florence on Thursday and it’s a combination Casey Stoney and Manchester United will try to prevent on Monday evening.”
Tim Stillman - Arsenal blogger
WHAT THE BOSS SAYS
“With the addition of teams like Manchester United to the WSL and bigger brands coming in to it, the game is only going to get bigger and better. Fans want to see games like these and we relish such opportunities. We’ve only had three days to prepare following our Champions League game against Fiorentina, but that’s our reality this season and I’ll make sure we’re ready to go.”
Joe Montemurro - Head coach
FOLLOW THE ACTION
You can receive live updates by following our Twitter account @ArsenalWFC.
Alternatively you can watch the game by tuning in to BT Sport 1. Kick-off takes place at 7.30pm (UK time).
Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.