Aston Villa Women return to action following the international break with a crucial tie against Arsenal in the Women’s Super League on Sunday afternoon.
This is the fourth attempt to play this fixture after multiple postponements due to Covid and the weather.
The initial fixture was scheduled for mid-January, but Covid cases in the Arsenal camp led to a cancellation; the two rescheduled matches since have both been called off due to a waterlogged and frozen pitch.
However, with the weather improving significantly, it seems this game will finally go ahead at the Banks’s Stadium.
Villa were last in action on February 6th when they hosted Tottenham Hotspur and a wonder strike from Mana Iwabuchi led to a crucial 1-0 victory against the Lilywhites.
That victory was Villa’s first since a 4-0 win away to Bristol City back in December and interim manager, Marcus Bignot, will be targeting further success heading into a crunch period of the season.
Arsenal suffered a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea on February 10th, which saw Emma Hayes’ side extend their lead at the top of the table.
The Gunners’ title chances have all but slipped away as Manchester City and Chelsea remain the two teams in strong contention, Manchester United with an outside chance as they sit six points behind the league leaders.
But with a 15-point gap to close, the task appears to be too great for Joe Montemurro’s side, who have enjoyed plenty of success during his tenure.
It's been a while... here's another look at how our last game went pic.twitter.com/6c1rlZOejm— Aston Villa Women (@AVWFCOfficial) February 27, 2021
It’s all to play for
With two defeats and a 1-1 draw against Reading in Arsenal’s last three, Bignot will be targeting a positive result on Sunday as he looks to elevate his side further up the table.
Under Bignot, Villa have shown they are a different force with greater defensively stability and fire power going forward; Iwabuchi is proving to be the difference maker.
Things are looking incredibly tight in the bottom half of the table, so every point is crucial as they look to solidify their spot in the top-flight next term.
Sunday’s game is just one of three games in hand for Villa, with West Ham and Birmingham City away being the other fixtures yet to be fulfilled.
A successful international break for Diana Silva
Diana Silva featured for Portugal during the international break as they secured a play-off spot for the UEFA Women’s 2022 Euros.
They finished second in their qualifying group with a 2-0 win over Scotland in Larnaca on Tuesday, ending Scotland’s hopes of featuring in the tournament set to be hosted in England next year.
But focus is now fully on Sunday and the game can be streamed live on the FA Player with kick off at 2:00pm GMT in Walsall.