Pre-Match Report

Preview: Reading v Arsenal Women

Arsenal celebrate Vivianne Miedema's goal against Ajax

Following an eventful international break that saw three more of our Gunners book their places at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, we’re back together once more to face Reading in the Women's Super League this weekend.

Our first away fixture of the league season promises to be a significant one. While we look to solidify our lead at the top of the table and find our rhythm ahead of a huge Champions League clash against reigning champions Lyon, Reading are on the hunt for their first points of the season. 

In our previous 12 league meetings, Reading have never beaten us (D2 L10). If we continue our great form against the Royals, they will become the first side to play another WSL side 13 times without registering a win. 

Reading's form so far

Lily Woodham and Kirsty Hanson

It's been a tough start for Kelly Chambers' side, who currently sit at the bottom of the WSL with zero points. A 4-0 hiding from Manchester United on the opening day of the season was followed by a closer 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, as striker Charlie Wellings gave Reading their first goal of the season in injury time.

With only two matches played, it's exceptionally early to predict the course of Reading's season and with talents such as Natasha Dowie, Deanne Rose and ex-Gunner Emma Mukandi in the squad, the Royals are certainly capable of inflicting damage to top sides on their day. 

Despite their great run of form during the middle half of last season, where Reading defeated Aston Villa, Brighton, and eventual winners Chelsea, they have gone 12 matches without a win – the longest ongoing winless streak in the WSL. Reading's last recorded league victory came in February 2022, when a late winner from Tia Primmer gave them the edge against Everton.

Last time around

Vivianne Miedema scores against Reading

We defeated Reading by a four-goal margin on both occasions last season. Jen Beattie opened the scoring for us in last year's away fixture, followed by a first-touch finish from Beth Mead and a brace for Vivianne Miedema.

Looking to shake off the dust of back-to-back draws with Manchester United and Chelsea, we then hosted the Royals at Meadow Park in March 2022 and put four goals past Reading without reply, with Miedema, Katie McCabe, Leah Williamson, and Stina Blackstenius all on the scoresheet. This victory kickstarted our ongoing streak of 10 successive league wins.

What the boss says

Jonas Eidevall in the pre-Reading presser

Eidevall on Reading: "I think it's a hard-working team. We saw last season that they had a tough start to the season. I think they were one of the better-performing teams once they got going. They won a lot of games in a row. So it's an opposition that we have massive respect for and we're preparing like it's our most important game.

"It's a constant challenge, to prepare for every game, to be 100%, and to be able to do all the work and preparation. We learn that as a team as you're getting more mature, it's about getting those processes right. Reading is no different from that. We know that every game in this league, especially the away games, can be tough if we don't go about it the right way. 

"So we need to focus on what we're going to do. It's our first game after the international break and if we think the game's going to be easy by any means, then we're making trouble for ourselves. We should always give our very best, our 100%. That's my intention on Sunday." - read every word of the boss' press-conference

Our team news

Rafaelle Souza

We will be missing our starting centre-back partnership of Rafaelle Souza and Leah Williamson. Rafaelle is out of action for several weeks due to a metatarsal fracture. Leah Williamson, who sustained a foot injury at England camp in October, will also spend time on the sidelines as she recovers. There are no other reported fitness doubts. 

How to watch

Arsenal Women at Emirates

We kick off on Sunday at 6.45pm UK time, in front of a potentially record-breaking crowd for Reading in their Select Car Leasing Stadium. The match will be live to watch on Sky Sports. 

Facts and stats

Manuela Zinsberger

  • Manuela Zinsberger will be looking to break the WSL successive clean sheet record this week with eight in a row. She met the previous highest total thanks to our 4-0 in last month's North London Derby
  • Vivianne Miedema has 12 WSL goals to her name against Reading, scoring in each of her last seven games against the Royals. The only WSL opponent our Dutch superstar has scored more goals against is Bristol City
  • Over on the wing, Beth Mead has continued her electric form this season and has more goal involvements than any other player in the league (three goals and two assists in two games)
  • We have had the most shots in the league so far, with 54 shots in two games. The record for most shots in a WSL team’s first three games is 80, which was us during the 2013 season
  • We have won our last 10 Women’s Super League games by an aggregate score of 39-2
  • So far in the 2022/23 season, 54% of our completed passes have been in our opposition’s half (552/1,021), which is the highest percentage in the WSL. On the other hand, Reading have the lowest percentage of completed passes in the opposition half, with 31%
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