Aston Villa Women were meant to be back in Women’s Super League action on Sunday afternoon, against fourth-placed Arsenal at the Banks’s Stadium. However, the game was originally postponed due to “health and safety concerns,” but after a pitch inspection this morning, it was a waterlogged pitch that kept the women from the field.
This likely comes as a relief for Marcus Bignot’s side following Wednesday night’s 4–0 defeat to the current league champions, Chelsea.
Perhaps this rest will give Villa more time to prepare, both mentally and physically. They are currently second from bottom, on seven points, with two wins, one draw and eight losses so far this campaign. A positive result would be crucial for Villa as the race for survival has become even tighter, following last-placed Bristol City’s win over Brighton on Saturday, which brought them within two points of Bignot’s side.
In other words, it’s all to play for at the bottom of the table. But we’ll have to wait to see how Villa will respond next week at Tottenham, who are currently in 7th place.
Although the date for the postponed match has yet to be scheduled, what is certain is that Arsenal will be a difficult test for Villa, whose record against the top four has been quite poor with four losses in four this season.
But as Bignot highlighted following Wednesday’s defeat to Chelsea, it’s the teams in and around them where they’re targeting points.
“The results we’re going to need going forward aren’t necessarily going to come from teams like Chelsea, but a performance like today will certainly put us in the right direction when we do come to games that we need to get points,” he said.
“We’ve got three more games before the international break and I’m confident we can put some points on the board out of those,” he noted. Now, of course, there’s only two matches to be played (unless Arsenal is rescheduled quickly): Spurs and dreaded rivals Birmingham City.
This fixture was originally set to take place on January 6, but was postponed due to a positive COVID test in the Arsenal camp and a number of players having to self-isolate. This next postponement will likely lead to further fixture congestion for the Villans.
When the date is decided, the two sides will now in the league for the first time in Villa’s debut season in the top-flight. They last met in a competitive fixture 15 years ago in January 2006, where the Gunners knocked the Villans out of the FA Cup with a 3-0 victory.
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Arsenal will be looking to secure their first win of 2021 on Sunday afternoon following numerous fixture postponements and a 1–1 draw against Reading earlier this month. Fortunately for Villa, they may now take out their frustration on Manchester City, who are currently just one position and one point ahead of them in the table (though they are scheduled to meet West Ham, tied with Villa on points, on Sunday, so fingers crossed for City this time).
Joe Montemurro’s side are yet to lose a game to a team outside of the top four this campaign, but the draw against Reading will give Villa plenty of belief that a result is well within reach. What will matter now is how they perform against a team inside the top four, or possibly teams—if the game can’t be rescheduled quickly, Arsenal will face league leaders Chelsea after Manchester City.
For Villa, it has been a testing start to the year, but they too recorded an all-important draw against Reading earlier this month.
But with their last win coming against Bristol City back on December 9, things are getting significantly more intense at the bottom of the table. Villa will likely be extremely relieved if they can put off facing Arsenal for a few more weeks.