Match Preview

So, it all comes down to this. From a switch of manager, two cup finals and a perfect farewell, this season could get just that much better on Sunday.

Heading to Bristol on the final day of the FAWSL 1 season, following back to back wins, Arsenal Women have the chance to sneak into a Champions League spot.

Sitting just a point off 2nd placed Manchester City, Arsenal need a win to have any chance of Champions League qualification. However, with confidence back in the squad its something Gunners fans can go into Sunday’s game hopeful about.

However, it’s important to bare in mind that if City when their home encounter with 8th placed Everton Ladies, they take that Champions League spot. So, the European fate of the squad is somewhat out of their hands.

But that shouldn’t discourage the side going into the game.

Bouncing back well after league and cup disappointments against Birmingham City Ladies and Chelsea Ladies, Arsenal showed great character to come from behind against City last weekend to show the fight is still on.

Since taking charge of Arsenal Women in November, Joe Montemurro has proved to be very consistent. Taking the club to 3rd in the league with his first win, that’s where Arsenal find themselves now.

However, following that impressive 14 game winning streak after the turn of the year, which included his first piece of silverware as Arsenal manager, the slip up at Birmingham was particularly disappointing.

But its clear that the side have bought into his ideas and philosophies which is showing on the pitch. With the side intent on playing a possession-based game out from the back.

Yes, there are still teething problems which are seen quite frequently but in his first six months in the job he has made a great impression.

So much so that numerous players such as Jordan Nobbs, Leah Williamson and Emma Mitchell have signed contract extensions with the club.

He also seems to be getting the best out of Beth Mead whose sensational season earned her a place in the PFA FAWSL 1 Team of the Year.

Traditionally, Mead is a centre forward, but recently she has been used off either flank and it has paid dividends. She’s got the pace and skill to go past players with ease and pick out a good pass but is also able to time her runs from out to in well to find herself in goal-scoring positions. Something not even Chelsea have seemed to get to grips with in the most recent meetings between the clubs:

Over the past week Danielle van de Donk has particularly impressed also, with her firing off countless shots at Sunderland and being a massive threat against City. If she’s given the same role tomorrow, then expect her to be a key component to the way Arsenal play.

However, as aforementioned, it all starts from the back, so Arsenal will need to assert themselves on the game early. Chelsea Ladies had no trouble doing that in midweek as they lifted the FAWSL 1 trophy and I don’t think Arsenal should be too troubled either.

However, with the occasional mistakes playing out from the back can cause, they’ll need to wary of players like Bristol City’s top scorer Lauren Hemp (nine in all comps) and Millie Farrow who caught Chelsea on the break numerous times.

Whatever the outcome on Sunday though, Champions League football or not, this season can be looked back on with a positive mindset.