It’s been a session of attack versus defence and it’s the Villa defence that is winning out, with Arsenal reduced to half chances. Arsenal need to find much more and hope Villa run out of energy and concentration.
Some quotes, courtesy of the excellent Tim Stillman of Arseblog, from the Arsenal coach Joe Montemurro.
(This international round) was really important for the players, just so they don’t have to look at my ugly face day in and day out if nothing else! I’ve always been a big supporter of players going away with their countries, it’s an honour and whatever they can get from that perspective is really important for them. We support that. It’s been an interesting one because some teams have just gone into camp to get their players together. All the testing that is required to get players back into our group has been a bit challenging. It has been a good round in terms of getting our players more game time and getting them into a different environment with their international colleagues- that’s been really important from the mental health perspective and the football perspective but it has also been challenging in terms of the protocols.
Arsenal’s last WSL game didn’t go well when they were picked apart by the expertise of Chelsea, and their hopes of cracking the top three and returning to the Champions League took a serious jolt. Joe Montemurro and his players have had time to regroup and travel to the Midlands, where Villa are perhaps flirting with relegation at the bottom of the league. Their last outing, a 1-0 defeat of Tottenham courtesy of a wonder strike by Mana Iwabuchi allayed fears somewhat, and they will probably present a difficult proposition for an Arsenal team struggling for the flow of previous seasons. For Arsenal, Jordan Nobbs and Jen Beattie are both back and Caitlin Foord will face a late fitness test. At Villa, there’s been a recent coaching reshuffle with manager Jemma Davies stepping down to work under Marcus Bignot. This game has been postponed three times this season already, but with the weather hale and hearty and Covid not quite as rife as it previously was, then it’s fourth time lucky.