We are back in European action tonight as we hope to secure our place in the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage.
The final obstacle is a double-header with Ajax Women, the first of which will start tonight at 7.30 pm UK time in Meadow Park. If we beat the Dutch team over two legs, that guarantees Champions League football for our Gunners this season.
We have never met Ajax in a competitive match. This home game will be followed next week by a trip to Amsterdam, where we will participate in the final qualifier on September 28 on the Dutch side.
We got off to a winning start to our season after beating Brighton & Hove Albion 4-0 on Friday night and we will try to transfer this good form to European football ahead of the North London Derby at the weekend.
Ajax’s journey so far
Ajax also recorded a 4-0 victory in their opening game of the competition season, as they beat Fortuna Sittard at home on Friday. Suzanne Bakker’s team has finished second after FC Twente in the past three Eredivisie seasons.
The Dutch side reached this stage of the UWCL qualifiers by beating Kristianstads DFF and Eintracht Frankfurt. They are aiming to return to the league after a two-year hiatus. In 2020/21 they were beaten by Bayern Munich in the Round of 32 and before that their best achievement was reaching the Round of 16 in 2018/19.
Our Champions League Experience
We are still the only English club to ever win the Women’s Champions League title, which we did in 2007 when it was still called the UEFA Women’s Cup. Alex Scott scored the winning goal when we defeated Swedish side, Umea, 1-0.
Last season we reached the quarter-finals of the competition after finishing second in our group behind Barcelona. Over two legs, we were beaten 3-1 by German champions Wolfsburg 3-1, after Lotte Wubben-Moy heroically saved a draw in the 89th minute during our home game at the Emirates Stadium.
The current selection of Ajax
Victoria Pelova is the young attacking star of the Dutch side. The 23-year-old midfielder has attracted a lot of transfer interest across Europe as her Ajax contract expires next year.
Elsewhere, Dutch team captain Sherida Spitse anchors their midfield and young striker Romée Leuchter leads their attack. Their first team consists entirely of Dutch players.
Our team news
We had a fully fit team for our WSL opener against Brighton on Friday. No injuries have been reported in the meantime, other than Teyah Goldie’s ongoing ACL recovery.
When she plays tonight, this will be Lia Walti’s 100th appearance for the Gunners. The Swiss midfielder joined us in 2018 from German side, Turbine Potsdam.
The match could also see Lina Hurtig’s Champions League debut in an Arsenal shirt. Hurtig has been key to Juventus’ European campaigns in previous years and she impressed during her brief cameo against Brighton on Friday night.
UWCL Facts and Statistics
- Since the competition became known as the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2009/10, we have qualified seven times
- In every Champions League we’ve qualified for, we’ve at least made it to the quarter-finals
- From 2010 to 2013 we reached the semi-finals three seasons in a row
- Vivianne Miedema was the top scorer of the competition in 2019/20 with 10 goals
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