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Arsenal v Manchester City: Women’s FA Cup – live

Key events

31 min Kelly pulls wide and Casparaji runs past, the pass seeking her too strong. Both teams have been very wasteful and imprecise so far.

30 min Shaw runs at the Arsenal defence so Maanum trips her, doing well to avoid a booking.

28 min I wonder if Arsenal might bring Russo a little deeper, then have players run off her, because currently she’s struggling. But, as I type, she drives forwards out of defence, Aleixandri fouls her, and Pelova sets Foord away! Only for the flag to go up! I’m not sure she was offside there, but an earlier pass takes the fear out of the equation.

27 min “This is all very timid and loose from Arsenal,” returns Charles Antaki. “They’re making City look as if they’ll walk through and score any time. Obviously you can’t call McCabe timid, but if she’s going to have to make up for the rest of them, then she won’t last the half.”

Ha! She’s a lot of fun to watch isn’t she? Arsenal need to get Russo into the game, I think, and also Pelova who’s been quiet so far.

25 min McCabe goes in the back of Hemp, shoving her from behind by the touchline, play going nowhere. So Hemp runs towards her, McCabe stands in her way, bumping her, so Hemp shoves her over. Let’s hope the needle builds…

24 min McCabe takes a bit of treatment following a bang to the heed, then thn corner is duly wasted.

22 min Fara Williams is such a fun and thoughtful co-commentator, and she giggles at having to avoid a ball headed for her, then Kelly pumps a free-kick to the back post and McCabe humps behind. And watching the incident again, we see Foord all over Shaw – I’ve no idea why one of the defenders isn’t marking her – and really, that’s another penalty Arsenal have avoided conceding.

21 min Arsenal win a thrown deep inside the City half which goes short, then McCabe slips into space for Foord, who’s gone inexcusably early given she could look across the line from where she was.

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19 min Nice from City, Kelly punching a first-time pass down the line for Ouhabi, whose cross is again well-claimed by D’Angelo. We then see the Wubben-Moy challenge again, and it looks more of a penalty every time.

18 min This is warming up a bit, Aleixandri weaving away from Maanum before finding Hemp, whose shot is blocked by McCabe. City are back controlling, but without looking especially threatening.

16 min Kelly takes the ball off a throw and slings in a decent cross, Wubben-Moy leaping with Shaw and landing elbow to phizog before Hemp curls over the bar. Arsenal are lucky, because that Wubben-Moy was nowhere the ball; that should’ve been a penalty.

Shaw in action. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

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14 min Both sides are struggling for rhythm and tempo, proactive defending preventing both forward lines from settling. But it’s Arsenal in the ascendancy now, Mead controlling a throw on her thigh and snapping a clever pass infield for Cooney-Cross, who puts Foord away. With no one up withher, she cuts inside Caspariji and curls a low shot from 20 yards that Keating saves easily enough.

10 min Arsenal string together a few passes, Mead crossing but Foord unable to catch up with it on the slide … having gone a little early and strayed offside.

8 min Arsenal allow City to play out and Park strides through midfield, then Hemp, on the right, comes inside and curls in a low cross, Wubben-Moy pulling out a foot at the last second to allow D’Angelo to collect. That’s good, confident keeping.

7 min Clever pass out of defence from Williamson, finding Fox, who can’t make anything of it so goes backwards. So far, City look the more confident and composed side.

6 min Yup, Kelly sends to the back post, where Park can’t get over her header, sending the ball over the top.

5 min It’s pretty sunny in Borehamwood, strange as it isn’t where I am, not that far away, and that might be tricky for the keepers. City win a corner, and I’d not be surprised to see D’Angelo put under pressure…

Cooney-Cross in action with Park. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters

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4 min Shaw holds up touches around the corner, taking Wubben-Moy out of the game, and Kelly crosses from the right …. but Arsenal quickly get the ball away.

3 min A scrappy start, and in comms they wonder if Zinsberger has been dropped or rested; my sense is a decent performance from D’Angelo here, and she’ll keep her place for the midweek Cup game against London City and next weekend’s league game with Man United.

2 min OK, let’s do it: in honour of Bunny Shaw, anyone got a good jerk sauce recipe. I’m struggling to nail it.

1 min Immediately, City hump it long; somewhere in Manchester’s tennis-club belt, Pep Guardiola winces.

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1 min The players take the knee and off we go!

Arsenal’s Williamson shakes hands with City’s Greenwood before kick off. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters

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Email! “I wish that I didn’t agree with you Daniel,” begins Charles Antakin, but I think you’re right: Arsenal have looked pretty toothless of late. Despite of a couple of moments –Miedema scored a cracker a couple of weeks ago, and Mead sparkled briefly – only Williamson of the returnees has looked consistently sharp and anything like her old self at the back At the front. Russo always looks like she’s working hard, but otherwise the goal potential isn’t encouraging for Arsenal fans.”

Russo is one of those players who needs things built around her because her lack of gas is unusual in a centre-forward. At Arsenal, she’s one of many, whereas at United she was the star, and I think it’s taking her and her new teammates time to adjust.

Here come our teams!

Williamson tells BBC she didn’t waste her time off, spending time with family and going out Saturday nights. She’s “closer to Viv than to Beth” in terms of the mental toll her injury took: Miedema is taking time to trust her knee again, whereas Mead just got on with it. She’s such an honest and thoughtful interviewee, and the sooner she’s back at full throttle, the better.

Kelly is excited to be part of a great team, telling BBC that the forward line is great and they’re putting in the work on the training ground. She relishes these kinds of games, especially if they’re away from home.

A year or so ago, Stina Blackstenius was getting picked ahead of Miedema. Now, though, she’s left on the bench even with Miedema absent – signing Russo will do that to you – but I wonder if she’s considering her options. You can only keep fringe players happy if you’re picking up pots…

Young Masterchef has just finished, so our telly coverage is about to start. In the meantime, though, any BBC cooking show necessarily reminds me of this:

I’m really enjoying Chloe Kelly’s development. She’ll always be known as the Euros matchwinner, but there’s so much more to her than that these days. As such, it’s not surprising that PSG are reportedly interested in buying her, likewise that City want to keep her. I’d totally understand if she fancied living somewhere different and experiencing something new, but my bet is she prioritises football and stays exactly where she is.

Gareth Ainsworth is in the Sky studio. He looks every bit as groomed as ever.

Photograph: Nigel French/PA

Arsenal do, though, have a better bench. If this is tight, don’t be surprised to see Little, Walti and Blackstenius influence things.

I didn’t think I was going to say this when I started this blog, but I fancy City here. They’re finding it easier to score and stop the opposition scoring, but more than that they’ve a more settled style. Arsenal, on the other hand, are still searching for form and confidence so, though they’ve the means to win, City look better equipped to control proceedings.

Arsenal, meanwhile, might look to playing into and off Russo, but without Miedema they might be a creative player short – and they’ve been struggling to score this season. They’ll need something from Mead today.

Where is the game? My guess is City look to play through Hasegawa, with Kelly looking to attack the box and Hemp keeping the width. The full-backs will, I think, also get forward, with the attackers targeting space in behind and down the outside of the Arsenal centre-backs.

Good news for City, not dreadful news for Arsenal.

Vivianne Miedema has a slight knee irritation. Arsenal are hopeful she’ll be back for Wednesday’s cup QF or on Saturday vs Man Utd. #afc

— Emma Sanders (@em_sandy) February 11, 2024

City, meanwhile, make two changes: at the back, Caspraiji is in for Kenndy, whle in midfield, Coombs replaces Angeldahl.

Lots to ponder in that Arsenal XI. Eidevall is without Miedema, perhaps injured – I’m sure we’ll soon find out what’s gone on there – and I imagine Victoria Pelova will play behind Alessia Russo, Kyra Cooney-Cross coming into the double pivot in her stead. Otherwise, the fantastic Katie McCabe returns, replacing Steph Catley at left-back, and Sabrina D’Angelo is in net ahead of Manuela Zinsberger.

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Let’s have some teams…

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): D’Angelo; Fox, Wubben-Moy, Williamson, McCabe; Maanum, Cooney-Cross; Mead, Pelova, Foord; Russo. Subs: Zinsberger, Williams, Catley, Codina, Walti, Little, Lacasse, Blackstenius.

Manchester City (4-3-3): Keating; Caspariji, Aleixandri, Greenwood, Ouahabi; Coombs, Hasegawa, Park; Kelly, Shaw, Hemp. Subs: MacIver, Stokes, Fowler, Morgan, Mace, Kennedy, Angeldahl.

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Preamble

Now then! Sometimes, a contest is of such obvious quality that it’s almost banal to say so, and that’s exactly what’s waiting for us at Meadow Park this afternoon.

Arsenal have had a spotty start to the season, third in the league, binned from the Champions League at the qualifying stage and, most recently, beaten from in front by West Ham. But in Jonas Eidevall they have one of the smartest coaches around, and now he has Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema all available it won’t be long before his side are at full power – and when they are, the rest best watch out.

City, though, have improved significantly following last season’s disappointing return, second in the table and well-placed to regain their Champions League spot with a title tilt to boot. The combination of the country’s most prolific front-line – Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp and Khadija Shaw have gelled beautifully – and most miserly defence – eight goals conceded in 13 league games – make them a serious proposition for anyone, and they arrive at this game chasing a 10th consecutive victory.

This is going to be great.

Kick-off: 12.30pm GMT



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