Arsenal v Aston Villa: Women’s Super League – live | Women’s Super League
85 min: Arsenal go high, and that’s easy meat for Aston Villa’s defenders, who have ruled the airwaves. Villa’s Parker is booked for a tired foul. Pacheco, the scorer, leaves the field.
83 min: A quiet descends, Carla Ward has chance to issue advice and Beth Mead us due to come on. “Meado, Meado, Meado,” the Arsenal fans sing.
81 min: Villa defending like demons as Maritz’s ball comes in. Arsenal struggling for the final ball. Player of the match named as Kim Little – seems premature – a long way to go. Daly, meanwhile, buys a foul and time from Wubben-Moy.
80 min: Van Domselaar is down injured, and that allows Arsenal to hold a team huddle. Ten minutes to chase and equaliser, and a winner after that.
78 min: More chaos in that Villa box as Katie McCabe’s shot is blocked by Patten, and cleared. Jonas Eidevall is asking the crowd to get behind the team. It’s all Arsenal now, Catley going close with a header she might have done better with.
76 min: Arsenal change: Walti off, Blackstenius on, and that’s a forward replacing a midfielder.
75 min: Villa pass the ball around rather neatly. Carla Ward’s team showing the quality that had many tipping them to challenge the elite clubs. Still, plenty of time left.
73 min: Big cheers as Jordan Nobbs comes on for Villa. She comes on for a rare Villa corner that’s eventually cleared. Simone Magill, who’s been excellent, goes off, surely exhausted.
71 min: Villa change imminent, on will come Jordan Nobbs.
69 min: Lacasse is penalised when the ball is played out wide to her.
67 min: Kim Little has moved forward, and Arsenal suddenly look more dangerous
66 min: The closest yet for Arsenal! Maritz’s cross is inviting for Arsenal’s forwards and yet nobody gets it, the ball comes out. Little plays in Foord, who hits the post. The ball comes out to Russo and van Domselaar claws it away.
63 min: Those Gunners changes: Maanum off, Lacasse, last week’s scorer on. Ilestedt off, and on comes Pelova. No Mead-o as yet, and what looks a reshuffle.
62 min: A corner is forced, at the Clock End, but van Domselaar does well, claiming the ball after first punching clear.
60 min: Nice exchange between Steph Catley and McCabe comes to naught, and Villa break, though their respite is limited. Arsenal changes are afoot.
57 min: Magill, excellent in defence, stops Russo in her tracks. Kim Little is down for Arsenal, after a clash with Villa’s Mayling. Little is OK to continue when there were concerns over her knee.
55 min: Pelova to come on for Arsenal? Beth Mead is warming up, too.
52 min: Arsenal having to risk more now, and seemingly willing to. The problem is a lack of movement, with Villa’s three defenders covering off space.
50 min: Corsie is OK, and then is cool enough to play her part in Villa playing the ball out from the back. They’ve played well.
48 min: Arsenal now kicking into the sun, which is still hanging bright and heavy….Russo’s volley blasts into Corsie’s face and the game will require a head injury assessment.
47 min: A stat via the BBC: “Arsenal created nine shots in the first half – but only one of those hit the target.”
46 min: Back we go, and Jonas Eidevall is going through his tactics book on his tablet with his assistant. How will Arsenal change? The first half was Carla Ward’s.
It’s not clicking at all for Arsenal, who have dominated but can’t lay a glove on Carla Ward’s team. A rare goal from Maz Pacheco, her first ever in the WSL, gives Villa a lead they threatened when Arsenal were struggling to create clear chances. Work to do for Jonas Eidevall.
45+4 min: Villa seek to see out the half, Little falls over a Turner challenge but no foul, and that’s it for the first 45.
45+2 min: Maanum has space to set up an Arsenal attack, and after her pass is blocked, surges on, and then gets a shot in, having been closed down so she would have to score a highly spectacular goal.
45 min: Four minutes added on and boos as Corsie goes down in her area. Pacheco booked for blocking a free-kick. There’s a real edge to this game.
44 min: Scramble in the Villa area. Walti nods the ball back and Daly gets her head to it, and the ball spins close to the line and is cleared behind. Chaotic, to say the least. On the resulting corner, van Domselaar somehow ferries the ball out.
43 min: Yellow card to Rachel Daly for a foul on McCabe, who anticipates contact. Daly complains that the sun had got in her eyes.
41 min: Russo is the target for a ball aimed down the left-hand channel and Rachel Corsie comes across and jockeys her opponent off the field.
39 min: Sarina Wiegman is looking on from the posh seats at the Emirates.
37 min: Frida Maanum is OK to continue but looks a little frail after that clash. It was a nasty one.
35 min: Charles Antaki, who knows his stuff: “Things really not looking too good for Arsenal. Losing to the beatables in this league, with the all-but-unbeatables to come, already has the whiff of desperation about it.”
34 min: A breakdown in play after a clash of heads. Pacheco, by the way, scored her first goal since 2016. Frida Maanum is leaking claret after smashing into Lucy Staniforth. Looks like a sore hooter for her. Painful.
32 min: Russo, quiet so far, drives on, and forces a corner. Big noise behind Arsenal now, and from the corner, van Domselaar and Walti are both unsighted by that low-hanging sun.
30 min: Little makes a burst from midfield, and sets up an attack. It ends with Walti just failing to find McCabe.
28 min: Failing to create chances and then not marking at set pieces is not a good sign, and Jonas Eidevall has work to do. He has a big injury list, admittedly.
27 min: Now Daly has a shot, set up by Lucy Parker, and Villa have their tails up. Arsenal have gone to pieces.
The Arsenal defensive crisis continues but what a header by Pacheco, Ilestedt had let her go, and as Villa celebrate, Arsenal hold an inquest in a huddle. This can’t keep happening.
24 min: Magill, who has been a bright spark for Villa, forces Kim Little into a clearance.
21 min: Villa attack, but Wubben-Mooy clears up as Mayling plays a promising ball into the area.
20 min: No VAR but Foord is ruled offside when she quite clearly wasn’t offside. It’s the endless debate.
18 min: Arsenal’s fear lies in an Aston Villa counter but it’s still all them. Calls for a penalty as McCabe bursts into the box. A Magill tackle comes in, and takes just enough of the ball. No VAR here today.
16 min: Walti responds by playing a scything pass through, and again Aston Villa get it clear with panic in the air.
15 min: Arsenal corner. Dominant so far. Rachel Daly yet to touch the ball? This time, it’s a session of afternoon, grapple fans, and despite Walti’s complaints, there is nothing given.
14 min: Cheers as Beth Mead takes her first warmup, Arsenal having plenty of the ball so far.
12 min: Oof, Arsenal go closest yet, as Foord’s cross is deflected, and Van Domselaar struggles with its flight. She can only deflect it out, but nobody can steal in.
9 min: The bright sunshine seems to be having its effect, Aston Villa playing into it, Arsenal having chosen to attack in the first half with it on their backs. Sunny but cold, if you’re interested.
7 min: Zinsberger for D’Angelo may be the key change for Arsenal, a club where they don’t mind switching goalies around. D’Angelo had a difficult last Friday at Manchester United.
5 min: Boos as Caitlin Foord pulls off a fine piece of skill, only for her to be pulled back as the ball had just run out of play.
3 min: Not much between these teams so far, neither of them complaining to the WSL referee after an edict from the authorities.
1 min: And away we go at the Emirates, a much changed Arsenal – though change is part of the Jonas Eidevall playbook.
A minute’s silence is held for the innocent victims of the conflict taking place in Israel and Palestine.
The teams are out at the Emirates on a sunny Sunday lunchtime.
Carla Ward, Aston Villa manager: “We know we’ve had a tough start but we will be ready for it.”
Jonas Eidevall, Arsenal manager on Beth Mead’s return: “Really for important for the team, really important for her. A lot of work has gone in behind the scenes. We’ll see if she can make an impact from the bench today.”
Last time out for Arsenal was something of a WSL classic.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Ilestedt, Wubben-Moy, Catley, Maritz, Little, Walti, McCabe, Maanum, Russo, Foord. Subs: Beattie, Mead, D’Angelo, Pelova, Kuhl, Lacasse, Blackstenius, Codina, Cooney-Cross.
Aston Villa: van Domselaar, Mayling, Patten, Corsie, Turner, Parker, Staniforth, Pacheco, Blindkilde, Magill, Daly. Subs: Lehmann, Nobbs, McLoughlin, Salmon, Leat, Leon.
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall confirmed on Friday that Beth Mead, who has been out for 11 months with an ACL injury, could return.
“We have one more training session to go,” said Eidevall. “If she gets through that, she should be 100 per cent ready for squad selection.
“She has a lovely energy, she plays the game with both her right and left foot with really good attacking qualities too. We all know that Beth Mead is a quality football player, so of course we are really looking forward to having her back on the pitch again.”
Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema could also return soon after suffering a similar injury. “Viv has returned to team training, which is really nice, so obviously the next thing from team training is to start playing in games, if that’s friendly games or internal games behind closed doors and so on.
“That’s the next step, and from there on obviously you’re not miles away from being able to be selected to be in the squad, so she’s definitely getting close.”
Another big test for Arsenal, after coming through one last week at Manchester United, Cloe Lacasse scoring a fine goal to put the first point on the board. The problem being that Chelsea, with three wins already, are setting pace their rivals must keep up with. Aston Villa, in pre-season seen as one of those teams that could challenge the top teams but have lost both matches so far. So, the pressure’s on for both teams, and there may be a celebrity guest, or a returning star. Let’s hope to see Beth Mead after 11 long months out.
Kick-off at 2pm at The Emirates. Join me.