We are back in the European Championship this evening and we hope to secure our place in the group stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
The final hurdle is a two-header with Ajax Vrouwen – the first of which takes off at Meadow Park this evening at 7.30pm UK time. If we beat the Dutch team on two feet, that will guarantee the Champions League for our Arsenal this season.
We’ve never met Ajax in a competitive match before. This second leg will follow a trip to Amsterdam next week where we face the Netherlands in the final second leg on September 28th.
We had a successful start to our season after beating Brighton & Hove Albion 4-0 on Friday night, and we look forward to taking this good level into European football, before… North London Derby at the weekend.
Ajax’s journey so far
Ajax also claimed a 4-0 win in the opening game of the league season, beating Fortuna Sittard at home on Friday. Susan Baker’s team has finished second after Twente for the past three seasons.
The Dutch team reached this stage of the UWCL qualifiers by beating Kristianstads DFF and Eintracht Frankfurt. They will aim to return to competition after a two-year break. In 2020/21, they lost to Bayern Munich in the Round of 32 and before that, their best performance was reaching the Round of 16 in 2018/19.
Our experience in the Champions League
We are still the only English club to ever win the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which we did in 2007 when it was still referred to as the UEFA Women’s Cup. Alex Scott scored the winning goal when we beat Sweden’s Umeå 1-0 on aggregate.
Last season, we reached the quarter-finals of the competition, having finished second in our group behind Barcelona. In two matches, we defeated German champions Wolfsburg 3-1 on aggregate, after Lotte and Ben Moi saved a championship tie in the 89th minute during our home game at the Emirates Stadium.
Current Ajax team
Victoria Belova is the young attacking star of the Dutch side. The 23-year-old midfielder has attracted huge transfer interest across Europe as her contract with Ajax expires next year.
Elsewhere, Dutch captain Sherida Spitsy has anchored the midfield and young striker Romi Leuchter leads their attack. The first team team consists entirely of Dutch players.
Our team news
We had a full squad fit for the Women’s World Championship opener against Brighton on Friday. No injuries, other than Teyah Goldie’s ongoing recovery from the ACL, have been reported in the meantime.
If played tonight, it would be Lia Walti’s 100th appearance with the Gunners. The Swiss midfielder joined us in 2018 from the German side Turpin Potsdam.
The match could also see Lena Hurtig make her Champions League debut for Arsenal. Hurtig has played a major role in Juventus’ European campaigns in previous years and was impressed during her brief cameo against Brighton on Friday night.
UWCL facts and stats
- Since the competition became known as the Women’s Champions League in 2009-2010, we have qualified seven times
- In every Champions League we’ve qualified for, we’ve at least reached the quarter-finals
- From 2010 to 2013, we reached the semi-finals three consecutive seasons
- Vivian Miedema was crowned the tournament’s top scorer in the 2019/20 season with 10 goals
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