The game against Everton had a déjà-vu element to it: four-nil at the break and a nasty injury to one of our players.
I purposely held back this episode of the journal as I wanted to have some clarity about the extent of Lia Wälti’s injury and I was relieved to hear that the player should be able to play in the upcoming World Cup. The Swiss midfielder found herself at the end of a reckless challenge from Beaver-Jones, who hit her ankle in an ill-timed attempt to regain possession on the edge of our penalty area. To think that the referee initially showed her a yellow card…
The injury was an awful spot or an otherwise fine afternoon, with Jonas Eidevall’s team in full control in the opening exchanges and simply too much to handle for an Everton team that had nothing to play for. Caitlin Foord’s first inclusion in the starting XI since her return to injury proved to be a (predictable) masterstroke as the Aussie scored twice, with Katie McCabe finding the back of the net with a long-range rocket and Lotte Wubben-Moy capping an impressive afternoon with a header from close range.
All the eyes are now turned to Kingsmeadow, where Arsenal and Chelsea will play each other on Sunday. We hoped it would be the game that would decide who would win the title between us and them, instead it will be our final hurdle in the race for the third place.
Each side of Manchester will cheer on a different team, in this London derby: Manchester United will be on our side, as an Arsenal win will give them the chance to leapfrog Chelsea before the final game of the season; Manchester City will hope for a Chelsea win, as it would take them level on point with the Gunners, in third.
The problem is that those Manchester teams play each other on Sunday night, which adds some spice to the penultimate game of the season.
There is a wonderful scenario where we win at Kingsmeadow, Manchester United draws against Manchester City and we go into the season finale with Chelsea on 52 points, Manchester United on 51 points, Arsenal on 50 points and Manchester City on 45 points – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.
The most important goal, for this team, is to nail the third place and earn the opportunity to go back to the Champions League, everything else is unlikely and unimportant, now. Having lost Lia Wälti is a big blow and Jonas Eidevall will have a big choice to make, because we don’t have another natural defensive midfielder in our squad. With Leah Williamson also unavailable, Jonas Eidevall will need to be creative when selecting the XI players to start against Chelsea.
Will he switch back to the 4-3-3 formation? Will he stick to the back-three? This choice will dictate who will start in midfield and my feeling is that he will stick to the current setup, with Victoria Pelova dropping in midfield alongside Frida Maanum and Katherine Kühl moving into the right number ten role. The other option would be to put Jodie Taylor in that position, in order to have a bit more experience for such an important game.
We will see how Jonas Eidevall will approach the game, on Sunday, and how the team will respond to yet another blow: Lia Wälti’s injury is the sixth occurring to a key figure of this team after Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Leah Williamson, Kim Little and Laura Wienroither.
Given the circumstances, I would probably take a draw against Chelsea, at this point. I know it doesn’t sound very ambitious, but I would like to go into the final game with the third place already sealed or with everything in our hands. Manchester City are unlikely to win the derby, because their opponents are on fire at the moment, so taking anything away from Chelsea would probably mean qualifying for the Champions League.
Anyway, we’ll talk again on Monday, after the big showdowns in London and Manchester, to have a look at the league table and prepare for the last game of this unique season, whose ups and downs made it hard to keep up with the events, at times. There’s been THAT night in Lyon, the Conti Cup triumph, the Champions League run-in but also all the injuries, the defeats against Manchester United, the slip-ups and the heart-breaking last-minute loss to Wolfsburg.
It’s not time for a season review yet, though. There is a wonderful scenario where we…
Italian living in Switzerland, Gooner since mid-nineties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. I started my own blog and podcast (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Covering Arsenal Women with the occasional rant about the boys.
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