Match preview

Preview: Manchester United v Arsenal Women

Manchester United v Arsenal. Women's Super League. April 19, 2023. Leigh Sports Village

We're back from the international break with another huge fixture in the Women's Super League, as we take on league-leaders Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village.

Our squad will be looking to pick up where we left off in the league and continue a four-game winning streak, yet a tough test awaits us. United are one of only two sides to beat us in the WSL this season but much has happened to our Gunners since then, including a Conti Cup trophy lift and progression to the Champions League semi-finals. 

Chelsea and Manchester City will also be paying keen attention to the fixture as it has the potential to hugely swing momentum in this season's title race. 

Last time around

40,000 supporters were in attendance the last time we played Manchester United at Emirates Stadium back in November. 

Ella Toone gave the visitors the lead going into the break but we were back level less than a minute after the restart as Frida Maanum's long-range effort was deflected past Mary Earps. 

Laura Wienroither put us ahead late in the second half with a stunning volley and her first goal in an Arsenal shirt. However, two late set-pieces from United proved to be our undoing, with Millie Turner and Alessia Russo securing the win in dramatic circumstances. 

To add insult to injury, Beth Mead went on to rupture her ACL in stoppage time and our winger from Whitby has been on the sidelines ever since. 

League leaders' continued momentum

Manchester United celebrate scoring against Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final

It's already been a season to remember for Manchester United, who have spent most of the campaign as Women's Super League leaders. 

This year's success signifies massive growth since finishing fourth in the league last time around - 14 points off the top but only five away from local rivals Manchester City and a vital Champions League place. 

United strengthened over the summer, adding to their already impressive roster of Spanish wing-back Ona Batlle and Lioness trio Mary Earps, Ella Toone and Alessia Russo. New signing Lucia Garcia has already proven deadly in front of goal, with young defender Maya Le Tissier slotting into the backline with ease. 

They have only suffered two losses so far this campaign, both at the hands of Chelsea, and remain top of the Women's Super League table. An action-packed 3-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday also saw United progress to the FA Cup final for the first time in the club's history. 

A win over the Red Devils this evening would bring us level on points with a game in hand, though only a 4-0 win would give our Gunners the edge in the goal difference stakes. 

What the managers say

Jonas Eidevall speaks to the squad at London Colney

Eidevall on Man United: "They work very hard. They're very solid defensively and they have a clear idea of how they play. So I expect that and we need to deal with that in the best way possible.

"I think consistency and continuity are very important when you're gonna be successful. Sometimes they change one of the wide forward positions but otherwise, they always pick the same 10 players. That's very well done to them for keeping those 10 players always available."

Skinner on us: "If it’s a 0-0 draw, I’ll be very surprised. For us, it’s about trying to dominate and try and move the opponent. We know Arsenal like to go direct, we’ve seen [Stina] Blackstenius running behind the [defensive] line and Caitlin Foord in the wide channel and [Victoria] Pelova as well, so we know what they like to do." 

Team news

Lia Walti in training

In his pre-match press conference, Eidevall confirmed that both Lia Walti and Steph Catley will be in the squad to face United. Our head coach was less optimistic about Caitlin Foord, however. His assessment was that this fixture is "just a game too early for her, but she's progressing really well."

Long-term absentees Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema remain on the sidelines with ACL injuries.

How to watch

Leah Williamson applauds a play

The action begins at Leigh Sports Village at 7.15pm (UK). For Gooners at home in the UK, the game will be broadcast live on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer. Intenational supporters can follow along via The FA Player.

Facts and stats

Frida Maanum in action against Aston Villa

  • We have won two out of three away games against Manchester United in the WSL. This exact fixture finished 2-0 to the Gunners last season
  • Our Gunners have won nine of our last 11 away fixtures in the league, with the two exceptions both coming in February against West Ham and Manchester City
  • Frida Maanum has scored one goal in each of her last three league appearances. Her previous four goals this season also came in consecutive games when our Norwegian scored four in a row in October and November
  • United have lost just one of their last 11 Women's Super League matches - a 1-0 loss to Chelsea in March. Their last home defeat in the league was also against Chelsea back in November
  • After a dry spell in the league at the start of 2023, we have won our last four matches by an aggregate score of 13-2
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