Preview: Arsenal Women v Aston Villa Women

Arsenal Women look to end their season in style against Aston Villa, with Champions League qualification all but secured

Preview: Arsenal Women v Aston Villa Women

Captain Katie McCabe. Credit- Jacques Feeney/Offside

Saturday 27th May 2023

Kick off 14:30pm 

Barclays Women’s Super League

Meadow Park

The curtain falls on Arsenal Women’s season on Saturday afternoon when the Gunners take on Aston Villa, with plenty of drama set to take place elsewhere in the WSL as the title race goes down to the final day for Chelsea and Manchester United. Every game kicks off at 2:30pm, with Chelsea two points clear of United going into gameweek number 22.

Arsenal will be sporting the new home kit a day before the Men wear it against Wolves in the Premier League, after the official launch earlier today, and the Gunners will be able to print the Champions League emblem on the sleeves once again providing drastic circumstances on the final day. For Arsenal to not qualify for Europe next season, they will need to lose to Aston Villa whilst Manchester City beat Everton, with an eleven goal swing in Manchester City’s favour, such is the disparity in goal difference between the two sides.

Despite the likelihood of Europe, the Gunners will be keen to hit the fifty point mark in the WSL after a season that has been plagued by serious injuries to most of Arsenal’s key players. Arsenal fans have not stopped singing all season and the same applied in the defeat to Chelsea last weekend- they recognise the progress that is being made in a turbulent campaign, and Jonas Eidevall has surely proven that he is the right candidate to lead the club forward.

It has been a different story this season for Aston Villa on the other hand, who have secured fifth place under Carla Ward, in part thanks to some excellent recruitment last summer and again in January. Arsenal legend Jordan Nobbs did not take long to find her feet at Villa after joining them midway through the season, but the standout signing is the WSL’s player of the season Rachel Daly, who has scored 21 league goals in 21 league games for Villa since arriving last summer.

Daly has three more goals than Manchester City’s Khadija Shaw and will hope to seal the golden boot at Meadow Park. Villa have hit something of a rocky patch with one win, 5-0 against Reading, in their last five games, but will back themselves to find their winning formula once again.

Arsenal beat Villa 4-1 at Villa Park back in December, turning the game around after an early stunner from Kirsty Hanson with Nobbs, Miedema and McCabe all on the scoresheet, and the Gunners put three past Carla Ward’s side in the Conti Cup quarter finals with Frida Maanum scoring a brace.

Both sets of fans will be bidding their farewells to players after Jonas Eidevall confirmed that centre back Rafaelle will leave the club at the end of the season. Orlando Pride of the NWSL, captained by Brazil captain Marta, are heavily linked with the Copa America winning defender, who will leave “for reasons that were beyond our control” according to Jonas Eidevall.

Villa will be saying goodbye to Emily Gielnik, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and Ruesha Littlejohn, whilst Reading loanee Tash Harding will not be returning to the club. Anna Patten is unavailable to play against her parent club Arsenal, who could be boosted by youngsters Michelle Agyemang, Laila Harbert and Katie Reid after England lost to Spain in the semi finals of the U17 Euros earlier this week.

Arsenal fans will be looking forward to giving Rafaelle and their side a big send-off before a busy summer of transfers and of course the World Cup takes over, and it should be a joyful atmosphere in the sunshine at Meadow Park. Let’s not forget about the return of Jordan Nobbs too, if she is fit to play.

For the final time this season the Gooner Fanzine’s live blog will be covering the game in detail, and I will also have player ratings and post match reaction to come.

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