Two Sides Searching For Their First Win In The 2023/24 WSL Season As Arsenal Host Aston Villa
Arsenal return to the Emirates Stadium in search of their first three points of the new Women’s Super League campaign as they take on Aston Villa who are looking to get off the mark this term.
Before the season began, it was agreed that a minimum of five women’s games would be played at the Emirates this season, the first being on the opening weekend of the Women’s Super League 2023/24 and the second this weekend as they host Aston Villa.
The Gunners haven’t had the most convincing start to their WSL campaign despite pundits naming them as potential winners of the league. They are currently winless in the two opening matches after suffering a defeat to Liverpool on the opening day, losing 1-0 in a performance that looked unsettled and disconnected.
Most recently, they travelled to Leigh Sports Village to face a tough Manchester United side. After putting out a transformed starting line-up from the one that faced Liverpool, seeing six of the opening day match starters dropped to the bench, they came out much stronger but ultimately defensive mistakes led to two goals conceded and a 2-2 draw.
Aston Villa have faced the same two teams for their opening games of the season. Firstly, they took on Manchester United at Villa Park in a dramatic game that saw plenty of goals and a red card for Kirsty Hanson with the game ending 2-1 to United.
Last weekend, they travelled north to face Liverpool and, like Arsenal, suffered defeat as the Reds scored two great goals whilst Villa struggled to create chances and looked disorganised in defence.
Both teams therefore will be entering this third match of the 2023/24 season hungry for their first win and based on previous encounters, it will be an intense competition.
Last year, Villa’s momentum continued to build into the last game of the season when they travelled to Boreham Wood to defeat Arsenal on home soil.
The Arsenal side of the 2022/23 season had suffered an unprecedented amount of ACL injuries to some of their biggest stars. They knew they were going into the last game in third and would likely finish in that spot regardless of the outcome but they wanted to finish on a high with a convincing win.
Villa took this away from them as they came into the match with the wind in their sails and the Golden Boot winner Rachel Daly.
This year looks different though as the Villa side, who had a busy transfer window signing lots of young and exciting talent including Ebony Salmon and Daphne Van Domselaar, doesn’t seem to be clicking.
This was especially evident in last weekend’s Liverpool game where passes were going wide, the ball was being lost in midfield and players were caught out of position, struggling to get back and defend.
On the other hand, despite Arsenal’s rocky start, they look to be building momentum.
We can see the new signings are starting to find their feet, including Canadian Cloe Lacasse who scored a beautiful equaliser against Manchester United last weekend as she turned in midfield and launched from long range with a shot that Mary Earps had little chance of saving.
The team looked creative and threatening in attack. When they do click, they will be very threatening, especially with the anticipated return of Beth Mead who has been pictured in full training with the squad this week after nearly 10 months away recovering from an ACL injury.
Over 35,5000 tickets have already been sold for this game, another huge WSL attendance.
It is great to see so much support for the women’s game and filling out these stadiums poses the interesting question of whether more/all WSL games should be played at men’s stadiums or is it time for women to get their own venues with capacities that support the demand.
You can tune into this weekend’s game on Sunday 15th October at 14:00 on BBC One and catch all the other WSL games on the FA Player.
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