Arsenal v Chelsea: Why ‘season defining’ WSL match may very well be the most important girls’s membership sport in Europe

England captain Leah Williamson has returned to the Arsenal facet following damage as they put together to face Chelsea
Date: Sunday, 15 January Kick-off: 12:00 GMT Venue: emirates stadium
Protection: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports activities Further, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport web site and app

What occurs when an unstoppable pressure meets one other unstoppable pressure?

Followers will discover out on Sunday at 12:00 GMT, when Arsenal and Chelsea meet within the Ladies’s Tremendous League, in arguably the most important membership match in European girls’s soccer.

Each groups have been in irresistible home kind – Chelsea have received 9 straight video games within the competitors, and are the WSL’s high scorers with 31 targets from 10 video games.

Arsenal are three factors behind in second place, having performed one sport fewer, and certain have misplaced just one league sport this season – at house to Manchester United in November.

It’s in European competitors during which each have actually caught the attention, having reached the Champions League quarter-finals by profitable powerful teams.

Arsenal progressed forward of reigning champions Lyon, having shocked the eight-time winners 5-1 in France of their opening group sport.

Chelsea, in the meantime, strode by means of Group A with 16 factors from six video games, making gentle work of a pool additionally containing PSG and Actual Madrid to exorcise the reminiscence of their group-stage exit 12 months in the past.

Former England worldwide Anita Asante, who performed for each Arsenal and Chelsea, thinks there’s some benefit to the argument that their assembly is the massive one in European girls’s membership soccer.

She instructed BBC Sport: “Whether or not both facet is the most effective in Europe, time would inform, but when both staff will get to the Champions League last it places them in that dialog. They’re undoubtedly two of the highest sides in Europe.

“It’s up there for me, personally. Look in Spain; no staff is near Barcelona. In France, Lyon beat PSG 9 instances out of 10.

“And take a look at the nice margins – it is a distinction of a aim or a call in every sport.”

‘It’s season defining’

Beth Mead
Beth Mead is certainly one of a number of main feminine gamers to endure an ACL damage

Whatever the debate concerning the dimension of the sport, it’ll definitely play an enormous function in deciding the English league title.

Arsenal and Chelsea have received the entire previous six WSL titles between them – Chelsea incomes 5, together with the earlier three – and whereas Manchester United and Metropolis have been each in kind earlier than Christmas, it could take a outstanding turnaround for the trophy to depart London.

“It’s season defining,” says Asante.

“If Chelsea beat Arsenal, they may really feel within the driving seat, and vice versa. They each know lots is at stake; the league is tight and it’s tough to win should you drop factors, significantly towards rivals subsequent to you within the desk.

“If Chelsea win this, they are going to be six factors clear. That will probably be an enormous buffer, having that cushion and realizing they must chase you.”

If Arsenal are to shut the hole, they have to accomplish that with out two of their key gamers, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema.

Mead and Miedema are set to overlook the rest of this season with anterior cruciate knee ligament accidents. Mead suffered hers in direction of the top of the 3-2 loss to United, with Arsenal’s woes compounded by the Netherlands worldwide struggling the identical damage weeks later.

Arsenal have continued to impress even with out the pair, nevertheless, and Asante says she has been vastly impressed with the staff’s mentality and resilience, which may very well be key towards Chelsea.

She stated: “It is a travesty that they’ve misplaced two key gamers, however even previous to that, gamers like [Caitlin] Foord and [Frida] Maanum have taken house and accountability, particularly in attacking play.

“It is a resilient staff, that has come by means of. Getting again captain and chief [Leah] Williamson is vital, Raffaele Souza has been an important signing.

“The problem is long run. They’re going for all trophies, and supervisor can not rotate as a lot as they want, that is the place the problems will are available. They belief the gamers they’ve, all of them have an identification everyone seems to be on board with I spoke to Jen Beattie and she or he stated it is best she has performed in when it comes to togetherness.”

‘I hope for a second of inspiration’

Sophie Ingle
Sophie Ingle (left) scored an excellent volleyball when Chelsea performed Arsenal in 2020

Chelsea, in the meantime, have been near good since a 2-1 defeat by Liverpool on 18 September, their opening sport of the WSL season. They haven’t misplaced a sport in all competitions since, with Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby main the best way for them on the aim charts.

They haven’t suffered long-term damage woes to the identical extent as Arsenal, and have had their squad boosted by the return of Melanie Leupolz following maternity go away. For Asante, that power of squad might give them the sting.

“For Chelsea, they’ve all the time been a relentless staff going ahead,” she stated. “They’ve so many choices off the bench who are available seamlessly into the facet.

“What makes Chelsea harmful is that they’ll damage you with the ball or with out it. They’re so harmful in counter assault, with these focal factors of Kirby and Kerr.

“Their solely weak spot is themselves, particular person errors – they play out from the again, loads of groups fall quick in these moments. Ann-Katrin Berger is an distinctive goalkeeper however she has made one or two errors of late.”

Final season, solely a degree separated these two groups within the last standings for the title, and head-to-head within the WSL period, there’s nothing to separate them. In 22 WSL conferences, each have received 9 every and there have been 4 attracts.

So, the place will the sport be received and misplaced?

“I all the time suppose video games are received and misplaced in midfield,” says Asante. “The midfield battle, the staff which gives service to the gamers who trigger essentially the most harm. Erin Cuthbert to Kirby, [Guro] Reiten getting supply into the correct areas. Chelsea rating loads of targets in an identical means, in the event that they try this they’ll win.

“I hope it’s moments of magic moderately than error – a second of inspiration. Every time now we have had a derby it has been moments like that, like Sophie Ingle’s volleyball in 2020. I hope it’s a kind of video games.”

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