Tonight, Arsenal Women travel up to Sunderland Ladies where they’ll be looking to keep their chances of finishing in the final Champions League spot alive.
Following their victory over Manchester City Women on Saturday, Joe Montemurro’s side now sit a point behind the 2nd placed side.
Tonight’s encounter is also their game in hand over Reading Women who the Gunners are level on points with.
Luckily for Arsenal, after suffering a tiny blip in form a few weeks ago with back to back losses against Birmingham City Ladies and Chelsea Ladies, last weekend they earned a massive three points at the hands of Man City.
Fighting back to win against the 2nd best team in the league in such fashion should give Arsenal great encouragement heading to the 9th placed team in the FAWSL 1.
Sunderland haven’t picked up a point in the league haven’t picked up a point in the league since March and are on the brink of relegation.
The reserve fixture in December signified the beginning of Monetemurro’s reign as Arsenal Women’s manager and we’ll be hoping for a similar outcome. That game saw Arsenal run out as 3-1 winners with Jordan Nobbs, Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead on the scoresheet.
However, this is also the hosts’ game in hand and they also have something to play for. Sitting a point off 8th placed Everton Ladies, a win could see them climb out of the relegation zone.
Playing with that hunger to stay in the league, and with star player Lucy Staniforth on ten goals, Sunderland shouldn’t be underestimated.
But with a certain former Sunderland player in their ranks, Arsenal’s chances of coming out on top is given a massive boost.
Beth Mead, who scored 77 goals in 78 league games for Sunderland, has been in great form for Arsenal this season. The majority of the season has seen her play centrally and score 14 goals, but of late she’s been mostly played out wide where she’s been equally effective.
Whether it’s driving at players on the wing or getting on the end of through balls, she will prove to be a handful for her former teammates.
Another thing that may help Arsenal build momentum is the position of Danielle van de Donk. In the Cup final loss to Chelsea, she played in a deeper, more defensive role than on Saturday.
Given more licence to go forward she made a real impact against City with a great finish and almost an even better assist. If she is to be given the same licence tonight, then Arsenal should have a good chance to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
But to keep those hopes alive, a win is a must as Manchester City host winless Yeovil Town Ladies in a game which will probably see them come out on top. So, if all goes to plan, the final day of the season could be a very interesting one.