Arsenal v Birmingham preview

Big game in the Continental Cup Group 1 today between Arsenal and Birmingham. This is the second game out of three in the round robin stage and the top 2 teams qualify for the semi-finals.

Lincoln leads the group with 4 points in 2 games. Birmingham is second with 3 points in 1. Arsenal 3rd with a point in 1 and Bristol bottom with no point in 2. A Birmingham win would guarantee qualification for Blues and nearly eliminate Arsenal. A draw would put Blues level with Lincoln on 4 points and Arsenal with 2 points and hoping to beat Bristol by a big margin on last day to qualify. An Arsenal win would put the Gunners level with Lincoln with Blues staying on 3 points and needing a win against Lincoln in the final game to go through.

The previous game ended with a 6-0 victory for the Gunners but you won’t see a repeat today. The team have evolved since the FA Cup tie with Blues having altered their 4-4-1-1 wingless system to a 4-2-3-1 that uses wingers a lot more. Some changes in personnel as well with Linnett and Lawley who didn’t play in the cup tie now regulars and offering a lot on the attacking side. Karen Carney is still unable to play following her kicking from a canadian player at the Cyprus Cup in March (!).

For Arsenal a few senior players have been injured/absent ( Chapman, Smith, Fahey, Ludlow, Yankey) which means the starting 11 is very much stable until some of the injured players come back. The bench is not short in potential but is under-used as seen at the Emirates Stadium.

So I expect the following starting 11 :

Byrne, Scott Grant Flaherty Beattie or Fahey (?), Houghton Nobbs Little, Davison White Carter

Earps or Hourihan, Weston Bassett Harrop Unitt, Moore Potter, Lawley Linnett Christiansen, Williams.

You wonder if Davison will be paired vs Unitt again or if Harrop will be playing at left back to match the Arsenal’s winger pace ? If Harrop is moved to full back, Westwood could come at center back.

It should be a good and tight contest today although I said the same before Tueday and it ended up with a 4-0 scoreline lol.

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