Match Preview

WSL: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

Spurs and Arsenal to kick off Women’s Football Weekend with a tasty North London Derby.

Girls on the Ball


12 November 2021

Tottenham Hotspur will host league leaders Arsenal in the WSL’s first North London Derby of the season. In previous years, the anticipated clash has been held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, however this time round the match will be played at The Hive, the home of the women’s team. The two sides most recently met in September for an FA Cup quarter final tie, in which the Gunners beat Spurs 5-1 at Meadow Park, the home of Arsenal. 

In terms of meetings in the WSL, last season Arsenal reigned victorious on both occasions, beating Spurs 6-1 and 3-0 home and away respectively. Although when considering previous meetings, and Arsenal’s current form, the Gunners look to be the favourites to clinch the win, a home ground advantage and a confident start means that Spurs look to have the capacity to throw a few challenges Arsenal’s way.

Home Team

Tottenham are currently sitting third in the table on 13 points, having won four games, and drawn and lost one apiece. This has been a remarkably positive start to the season for Spurs who finished up last year in 8th place, winning just five league games. This rejuvenated Spurs side has manifested under the helm of coach Rehanne Skinner who took over from managers Karen Hills and Juan Amoros last November. Skinner appears to have instilled a new found, or perhaps a re-found, belief within the team and her instruction to persevere without submitting has served them well. 

Tottenham have appeared a far more organised side this season. By increasing defensive discipline, Spurs have in turn added a far more dynamic attacking prospect to their game. Rachel Williams, Kit Graham and Angela Addison have all found scoring success so far. Of course, the relentless press of Arsenal will require the most consistent defensive work that Spurs have possibly had to do, however the Lilywhites have shown they remain a threat from counters and set pieces. 

Spurs have faced both Manchester City and Manchester United this season and lost to neither. Spurs bagged an early win over City with a goal from Rachel Williams as well as an own goal from Karima Taieb. Last week they drew with United with a late equaliser from Percival. They are yet to face title contenders Chelsea or Arsenal, so this fixture will provide Spurs not only with possibly their hardest test so far, but also a yardstick to measure their improvements under Skinner.

The Oppositon

Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal are quite frankly a force to be reckoned with. The Gunners remain unbeaten in the WSL with a goal difference of 21, eight more than second placed team Chelsea. Arsenal come into this game having won their midweek Champions League match against HB Køge in Denmark. The Gunners secured another comfortable win beating the Danish side 5-1 with goals from Steph Catley, Nikita Parris, Caitlin Foord, Anna Patten and Jordan Nobbs. 

Due to their hectic schedule, it is likely that Eidevall will opt for some rotation whilst keeping his perfect league record in mind. Yet, with Arsenal’s strength in depth their starting eleven looks to lose no firepower whoever makes the cut. Arsenal will look to continue with their fluid attacking press, making good use of their fullbacks and wingers to stretch Spurs and exploit wide areas. This should prove beneficial in pinning back and supressing Tottenham’s wide players whom have provided excellent attacking support for Spurs’ central channel. Wing master, and all round attacking deviant, Beth Mead has the opportunity to make history this weekend in equalling or surpassing the all-time WSL assist record. Mead currently has 34, just one behind record holder Karen Carney.

Gareth Taylor Man City_edited.jpg

Girls on the Ball

Ones to Watch....

The home side boast defensive bravery in fullback Ashleigh Neville. Neville has made the most tackles in the WSL this season with 27 challenges and the most interceptions with 18. This term Neville has converted to a wingback to accommodate a back three, however this has clearly not decremented her defensive skill. In this position Neville has in fact become far more influential as she operates the wide lane of the pitch. A suited role to quench Neville’s hankering to drive forward to support and create. 

The visitors too boast defensive brilliance in the form of Leah Williamson. The centre half is well known for her passing range and vision to switch play or create from deep. She has linked up well with fellow right sided players Noelle Maritz and Nikita Parris to drive Arsenal’s attack from the back, and harbours a distinct ability to push higher up the field to reinforce this triangular body whilst maintaining a positional awareness. 

However, Williamson has made a conscious effort to ramp up her actual defensive stature and this has indeed been witnessed this season. Although notable presses against Arsenal have been few and far between, Williamson has demonstrated a physicality in bustling opponents off the ball and finding the right moments to move across the face of the goal line to force players to divert. Williamson will be key for the Gunners, not only in this match, but going forward across all competitions.

How to Watch

The match kicks off at 1:30pm (GMT) and will be shown live on BBC One with coverage from 1:15pm. Please check local listings if you are viewing from outside the UK.