Leigh Sports Village is the venue as Manchester United Women and Arsenal United Women go head-to-head in a top-table Women’s Super League six-pointer.
Only three points separate top-table Man Utd and third-placed Arsenal, but with the Gunners having a game in hand, the pressure is on the home side.
After a gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat at second-placed Chelsea in mid-March, Marc Skrinner’s team have posted back-to-back 4-0 triumphs over West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion to move to the top of the table.
Former Athletic Bilbao star Lucia Garcia Cordoba bagged a second-half brace to inspire the Red Devils to a thumping win over West Ham in their most recent home league outing.
That result forms part of Man Utd’s intimidating four-match winning streak on home soil, which should inspire their bid to defy a negative H2H record against Arsenal at the Leigh Sports Village.
Jonas Eidevall’s ladies have won twice on their three previous competitive visits to Manchester without conceding (L1), including a 2-0 victory in their most recent league encounter away from home.
They will be gunning for another success after stringing together three wins across all competitions in the build-up to this run, most recently coming from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1 at home.
Another defensive masterstroke from Leah Williamson, who will captain England at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, helped the Gunners gain three points despite being outplayed by City.
But to take down Man Utd, Arsenal will have to take their performance to the next level.
Man Utd overcame a 1-0 half-time deficit to dispatch Brighton in the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals 3-2 on Saturday and become the first side to reach the grand final.
However, despite boasting a massive 32-point lead over Brighton in the WSL table and thrashing them in their recent league duel, the Red Devils barely squeezed past a sub-par opponent, as spotted by The Athletic.
Per their observation, United ‘sleepwalked their way through a tepid opening 45 minutes’ before shrugging off complacency to pull off a second-half comeback to set themselves up nicely for this clash.
More importantly, Skinner’s side maintained their attacking prowess, making it four straight competitive matches in which they scored at least three goals.
Man Utd should take the field in high spirits, especially considering they’ve claimed eight wins in their last nine home outings (D1) since losing 3-1 to Chelsea in November.
Arsenal’s decent league performances against Man City and Tottenham Hotspur qualify them for slight pre-match favourites as they eye up their first WSL title since 2018/19.
Their stellar 5-1 romping of Spurs on their last league travel may have helped settle Eidevall’s nerves after his side lost three consecutive away games prior.
A brace of disheartening defeats at Bayern Munich and Chelse without scoring in the Champions League and WSL, respectively, exposed the Gunners’ attacking flaws.
Even though they enjoyed a goal-glutted win over bottom-half Tottenham, they’re unlikely to repeat another free-scoring showing at the Leigh Sports Village.
Indeed, before steamrolling to that clear-cut win over out-of-sorts London rivals, Arsenal had only scored once on their four previous road trips in all competitions.
Manchester United vs Arsenal Potential Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Mary Earps; Ona Battle, Maya Le Tissier, Millie Turner, Hannah Blundell; Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem; Lucia Garcia, Ella Toone, Leah Galton; Alessia Russo.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Sabrina D’Angelo; Noelle Martiz, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Catley, Katie McCabe; Leah Williamson, Lia Walti; Victoria Pelova, Frida Leonhardsen Maanum, Caitlin Foord; Stina Blackstenius
We Say: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
Whoever wins here would significantly increase their chances of halting Chelsea’s three-year reign in the WSL.
Since neither side has drawn a game in the past two months, we believe a share of the spoils is off the table.
Based on Man Utd’s free-scoring form and the psychological edge after winning the reverse fixture in London, we give them a better chance of wrapping this up.