Arsenal Women v Paris FC
Saturday 9 September 2023
Kick off 2:00pm
UEFA Women’s Champions League
Round 1 Qualifiers
Arsenal’s Swedes netted twice on home soil to make sure that the Gunners overcame the first hurdle of UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification on Wednesday night. In what was at times a rusty display in Arsenal’s first game of the season, substitutes Lina Hurtig and Stina Blackstenius both scored from the bench against their former side after Caitlin Foord’s header eight minutes into the second half.
Jonas Eidevall gave debuts to summer signings Amanda Ilestedt, Cloe Lacasse and Alessia Russo, whilst Kim Little and Beth Mead returned to the matchday squad. On the eve of the Linkoping tie, Eidevall confirmed that Mead will play no part in the qualifying mini-tournament this week, but Little started on Wednesday and had a penalty saved early on.
With reports circulating that Arsenal have had two bids rejected for Manchester United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps, who United insist is not for sale, Eidevall stayed true to not commenting on speculation about individual players in Friday’s press conference, but added that Arsenal “remain active in the transfer market. There might be business to be done, but no comment on that specific individual”.
After the majority of the crowd at Linkoping Arena had moved on to other things on Wednesday evening, Paris FC and Ukrainian side FC Kryvbas took to the field in the second semi final in Arsenal’s group. Paris finished third in Ligue 1 last season and proved too strong for Kryvbas, Julie Dufour scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 win for the Parisians.
Jonas Eidevall was watching on: “The first half, I think Paris is the better team but it’s still quite an even game, I think Kryvbas was working really hard in their defensive organisation to deny them space. I think when I see Paris as a team I think they’re really strong on the counter attack. Of course, Kryvbas did not create a lot of opportunities on the counter for Paris- one of the few they did was after a set piece, and that’s also where Paris scores their first goal. I don’t think that’s a coincidence that they did that, and then they score a number of situations from wide areas. The game in that sense is quite representative of Paris’ strengths, and something that we need to deal with.”
The victor on Saturday could face the likes of Real Madrid, Wolfsburg and Paris Saint Germain in Round 2 of qualifying, which will be drawn on Friday 15 September and will be played over two legs next month.
Arsenal may well look to rotate, boosted by an improved depth in their squad compared to large parts of last season, but will be fully aware of the challenges that Paris FC can pose, as outlined by Eidevall. Victoria Pelova’s absence was at times felt in midfield despite Frida Maanum’s excellence, whilst Steph Catley and Stina Blackstenius could also return to the starting lineup. The impact of Arsenal’s substitutes against Linkoping will have given Jonas Eidevall food for thought, with Hurtig certainly establishing herself as something of an impact player from her time in the World Cup with Sweden this summer.
The first ever game between Arsenal Women and Paris FC will be available to watch on arsenal.com in the UK.