The Champions League tie will be the first official game for both side for the 2014 season. Pre-season friendlies have not given much indications as both teams have played behind closed door games and therefore not much information is available.
Birmingham have lost Mary Earps recently and Jess Myers is injured so Sophie Baggaley will be Rebecca Spencer’s back up. Jordan Nobbs has a back injury and Christie Murray is cup tied for Arsenal, which means the midfield options are limited. Other players also were carrying knocks / coming back from injury : Smith, Stoney and Hoogendjiik. Fahey is back from her ACL and has not played an official game since last May.
Possible 11 for Blues
Spencer, Weston Westwood Harrop Sargeant, Moore Potter Allen, Carney Linnett Lawley
Subs from Baggaley, Mannion, George, Torkildsen, J Carter, Simpkins, Keryakoplis, Haines, Wilkinson
Possible 11 for the Gunners
Byrne, Scott Stoney Hoogendjiik Mitchell, Bailey Weir Ohno , D Carter Smith Yankey,
Subs from Chamberlain, Fahey, Williamson, Kinga, Bragg, Ayisi, Robe, Humphrey, Steele, Oliver, Bartrip, Sampson
Blues have the home davantage and also the fact that 9 or 10 out of the possible starting 11 were there last season, while Arsenal will have a much changed side from last year.
Blues are therefore favorite to win the game on Monday as they could catch an Arsenal side still in process of gelling on and off the pitch.
As usual in any game, one of the key will be the midfield area and who will win that battle. While Jo Potter and Jade Moore have a lot of hours together, the Arsenal midfield won’t have much time together besides the friendly games unless Shelley Kerr plays Bailey and Weir with Ohno in front of the 2 youngsters. Bailey and Weir have played many games with the development side since September. Remi Allen or Jess Carter will also add some bite in midfield should they get selected. Arsenal could also select Fahey or Kinga to play in front of the back 4, Fahey played there in 2011 against Lyon and Chelsea in the FA WSL opener.
If we look at what will happen on the wings, Yankey v Weston will be a good battle, same with Carney v Mitchell and Lawley v Scott. Whoever wins those battle will surely make a decisive contribution in the game. Not sure who will play on the right wing for Arsenal on Monday as there are no right winger any more in the squad except Carla Humphrey. Dan Carter or Freda Ayisi should get the nod with Carter the more experienced player in the position.
Up front for Blues Linnett will try to find space behind the Arsenal defence especially the 2 center backs, while Ayisi, Carter or Smith will be using their strength to bring other players in and use the midfield players forwards runs.
Esther Staubli will be the referee for the game.