Arsenal will take on Championship side Coventry United in the FA Cup quarter-final on Friday evening at Meadow Park. It’s the Gunners third consecutive draw against a Championship side in this season’s competition after eliminating London City Lionesses at home and Liverpool away in the previous rounds.

The club requested to move the game from its initial Sunday slot to Friday evening to allow more space to Wednesday evening’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Wolfsburg at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal play twice at the Emirates Stadium following this game with a North London derby in the WSL on the horizon next Saturday.

However, they will need to be fully focused on the task at hand against Coventry United, for whom this may well represent the biggest game in their history. The club very nearly went to the wall in January when they were placed into voluntary liquidation on Christmas Eve. Local businessman Lewis Taylor however came to the rescue with a package to keep the club alive.

With the bad taste from last season’s FA Cup Final capitulation against Chelsea (the game was played in December) still in the back of Arsenal throats, they will recognise this is a great opportunity to make immediate amends and they really ought to beat a path to another semi-final here. Coventry will look to play the game of their lives and bank on Arsenal having their minds focused elsewhere.

Defender Rafaelle will not quite be ready to return from the injury that kept her from Sunday’s 3-0 win over Brighton. Tobin Heath returns after an injection into her knee meant she could not join the squad for that game either. Jonas Eidevall is likely to shuffle his pack ahead of next week and with players like Iwabuchi, Nobbs, Parris, Maanum and Beattie struggling for minutes of late. Lydia Williams will start in goal with Manu Zinsberger rested.

Available squad
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Williams, 24.Stenson
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 20.Boye, 26.Wienroither
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 11.Miedema, 14.Parris, 19.Foord, 25.Blackstenius, 77.Heath.

“There are many reasons behind it (Arsenal being able to vary their threat recently and attack down the right as well as the left), one is player potential, so we can do certain things to get the ball over there now. The other thing is how the opposition acts, they commit a lot of players over to the left side now which opens up the central spaces and the spaces on the opposite side.

“That plays a part. We are constantly looking for ways to develop and evolve our game and that will always require us to be able to score goals and create opportunities in more than one way. We are working on that and we need to be proactive and find solutions before opponents find solutions to stop what we are doing at the moment.”

The teams have never met before. Coventry United advanced to this stage by beating Watford in round four before defeating Billericay Town on penalties in round five, narrowly evading a huge upset in the process.

HIGHLIGHTS | Liverpool vs Arsenal (0-4) | McCabe with a worldie, Foord (2), Little – YouTube

Coventry United went into voluntary liquidation on Christmas Eve of 2021 and were ready to surrender their place in the Championship. Players were told that their contracts would be terminated immediately- quite the Christmas present. However, Lewis Taylor, chief executive of energy company Angels Group, stepped in to secure the club’s future.

He is thought to have invested around £250,000 into the team initially. Coventry have gone from not having a club to an FA Cup glamour tie against the 14-time winners. However, due to issues with prize money around the Women’s FA Cup (which is being drastically amended from next season) they will lose money by playing in this tie since their costs outstrip the prize money.

Coventry have begun to pick up form of late too, with two wins and two draws in their last four matches. However, they still sit bottom of the table due to their 10 point deduction for entering administration, meaning they are only on one point and trail Watford by six points. Without the deduction they would be four points clear of the Hornets.

After an electric start to the season, Frida Maanum has not started for the last five games. In fact, she has only started two matches since Christmas- the 1-0 victory over London City Lionesses in round four and the defeat away at Birmingham, when she was drafted into the starting line-up at the 11th hour due to an injury to Lia Wälti in the warm-up.

None of this is of immediate concern, it is quite normal for a young player coming from overseas to hit peaks and troughs in their first season at a club. Largely, her omission recently has not been connected to her own form but the form of Lia Wälti in the number six role. Nobbs, Iwabuchi and Maanum are are struggling for minutes because the Wälti, Little, Miedema combo has been so fruitful.

Maanum will likely get her chance in this match, alongside some of the aforementioned like Nobbs and Iwabuchi. It’s questionable how much she could do in a game like this to force her way into the conversation for the starting line-up against Wolfsburg on Wednesday. But after this, Arsenal have two games against Wolfsburg and a North London derby in an eight day period, they will need to rotate, both the starting eleven and with substitutions. Maanum is going to be needed.


Subs: 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 9.Mead, 13.Walti, 16.Maritz, 20.Boye, 24.Stenson, 25.Blackstenius, 77.Heath.

The game takes place at Meadow Park with a 7pm kickoff on Friday evening. Tickets are available here for £8 adults and £4 concessions if bought online before 2359 on Thursday. Otherwise, they are available on the gate at £12 adults and £6 concessions on Friday evening. The game is being broadcast live on the FA Player. You just need to register an account and you can watch for free.

We will have the usual post-match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday evening as well as the post-match reaction video from pitchside at Meadow Park. A new episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast will be out on Friday, previewing the UWCL tie against Wolfsburg with German journalist Jasmina Schweimler, as well as a cameo from Caitlin Foord, Lydia Williams and Steph Catley in a quickfire question round.