Talking points as Arsenal and Chelsea resume Women’s Champions League bid
Arsenal and Chelsea are both involved as the Women’s Champions League resumes this week with the quarter-final first legs.
Arsenal take on Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday and Chelsea play Lyon at Groupama Stadium 24 hours later, with the other ties seeing Roma meet Barcelona and Paris St Germain tackle Wolfsburg.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points ahead of the action.
Injury-hit Arsenal aim to end last-four absence
Arsenal, the only English club to have won the competition, back in 2007, are looking to reach the semis for the first time in 10 years, facing German opposition at this stage again after being eliminated in the 2021-22 quarter-finals by Wolfsburg. Jonas Eidevall’s side made a very eye-catching start in their group this term, winning 5-1 at eight-time and defending champions Lyon, and would finish top of the pool – but by the final round of games had suffered the significant blow of losing forwards Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema to ACL injuries. The club re-signed veteran striker Jodie Taylor last week but she is not part of their Champions League squad. Currently fourth in the Women’s Super League, they have won each of the last three games, including beating Chelsea 3-1 in the League Cup final.
Familiar foe at Bayern
🥇 𝐆𝐨𝐚𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡 🥇@StanwayGeorgia's injury-time winner away against Benfica in the @UWCL takes the honours in October 👏#MiaSanMia pic.twitter.com/J21tZh0b8c
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) November 17, 2022
The Gunners go up against a Bayern outfit featuring England midfielder Georgia Stanway. After leaving Manchester City to join the Bundesliga club last summer, the 24-year-old scored three goals in their group-stage games, two in a late brace that secured a 3-2 victory at Benfica. Bayern, who finished second behind Barcelona in Group D but on the same amount of points (15), have twice before reached the Champions League semi-finals, in 2019 and 2021; last season they bowed out in the quarters with defeat over two legs to PSG. They are second in the German top flight at the moment, two points behind Wolfsburg, and on a 12-match winning streak in all competitions.
Kerr on song for Blues
While Chelsea were defeated in the League Cup final, that was only their second loss of 2022-23 and first since September – otherwise, it has been pretty ruthless form from Emma Hayes’ side, who look well-placed to secure a fourth successive WSL title. Australia forward Sam Kerr has again been at the forefront, scoring 22 goals for the Blues including 12 since the turn of the year. Among those earlier in the campaign were five in the group stage of this competition. Hayes’ side topped their pool a year on from failing to make it to the last eight. The season before that, they had reached the final, losing 4-0 to Barcelona.
Lyon’s ranks strengthening
𝐴𝑑𝑎 🙋♀️ pic.twitter.com/20tbKmZFRM
— OL Féminin (@OLfeminin) March 14, 2023
After being thrashed by Arsenal, Lyon’s recovery en route to taking second place in Group C included beating the Gunners 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Meanwhile, their defence of the French league title currently sees them a point clear of PSG at the top. They have had a number of big names back in action in recent months after injuries, and Norway star Ada Hegerberg, who scored one goal and set up another in the 3-1 win over Barcelona in last season’s final, is currently nearing a return of her own.
The road to Eindhoven
🏆 𝟭𝟱𝟬. 𝗗𝗔𝗬𝗦. 𝗧𝗢. 𝗚𝗢!
The 2023 final will be _____ vs _____ 🔮#UWCL // #UWCLfinal
— UEFA Women’s Champions League (@UWCL) January 4, 2023
The second legs of these ties take place at the Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge next Wednesday and Thursday respectively. If the English sides progress, Arsenal will then face either PSG or Wolfsburg in the semis in late April, while for Chelsea it will be Barca or Roma that would be vying for a place in the final that is scheduled for June 3 at PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadion.