Don’t let the scoreline fool you: This has been a high-quality encounter, a really hard-fought contest, with Tottenham defending resolutely to keep Arsenal at bay, while presenting quite a threat on the counter from time to time. Watching from the stands, Alex Morgan should be quite impressed with her new teammates’ efforts. Miedama looks a little bit perturbed as she talks to a teammate while walking off at the break. I will be back in a few minutes to bring you the second half – and possibly a debut for Morgan?
42 min: Arsenal hit back – Miedema and Nobbs effect a brilliant one-two in a very crowded Spurs box. Miedama takes the ball in and flashes a low pass across the Spurs goal, but there is no one there to meet it. Still 0-0.
40 min: Rosella Ayane of Spurs bursts towards goal and wants a penalty after she is possibly tugged back. But nothing doing from the ref. Then, there is a lovely bit of skill by Alanna Kennedy, who turns a couple of defenders inside out near the left corner and sends a cross/shot goalwards.
38 min: That free-kick, conceded by Little of Arsenal, is thumped into the danger area by Kit Graham. It’s a superb delivery too, into the corridor of uncertainty, and Zinsberger has no choice but to try and intercept it. She gets a decent punch on the ball and the danger is eventually cleared. If Spurs were to go in at half-time winning this, it really would be something, given all the pressure that Arsenal have mounted on their opponents’ goal.
35 min: An email from Peter Oh, entitled ‘Knights of the Round Table’:
“Having a Percival and a Morgan(a) in the team can only help Tottenham’s quest for the holy grail of a first FA Cup. However, Arsenal have Mace and Mead on their side. They could go medieval on Spurs.”
Like it, Peter, like it.
It’s still 0-0 as we enter the final 10 minutes of the half. Tottenham win a free-kick in a dangerous position.
33 min: More impressive defending from Spurs. The weather may be pretty poor but Tottenham look to be relishing their task in trying to keep Van de Donk, Miedema et al at bay. They’ll be very happy to make it to half-time goalless, and maybe look to use some of that talent off the bench in the second half.
30 min: Lee Kirkpatrick emails: “Hey Luke,
“Watching the match on FA Player and following your blog (which I just discovered). For some strange reason I’ve recently developed a keen interest in the FA WSL! You think Morgan will get any minutes today?”
Thanks for the email, Lee. It’s good to know that Morgan is attracting fans for the WSL from the States. Yes, if I was going to have a bet, I would say Morgan will get 20 minutes in the second half at least.
27 min: Tottenham’s Shelina Zadorsky goes in the book for a late challenge on Miedema. There had to be a booking sooner or later with several fouls having been committed by Spurs. In weather news, it’s starting to rain quite hard.
25 min: Karen Hills and Juan Amoros, the Spurs coaches, will be happy with this. Aside from Foord’s header on to the bar, Arsenal have been contained pretty well. The Gunners will always look dangerous, but it’s been a good defensive shift from Spurs so far.
22 min: The fouls are certainly mounting up from Spurs as they are forced to work exceptionally hard to contain this excellent Arsenal side. Peplow gets a talking-to from the referee for a foul in midfield. In the stands, Alex Morgan is pictured with a snood obscuring most of her face as she shelters from this chilly September evening in London.
19 min: Another classy touch by Miedama, as she flicks a crossfield pass over her own head with her right heel and tries to race on to it. But Spencer in the Spurs goal is alert to the danger and snuffs it out. Lovely skill by Miedama, the kind of thing her compatriot Dennis Bergkamp would have attempted.
14 min: Tottenham have competed well in the early exchanges, but Arsenal are starting to show their firepower in attack a little bit more. Ria Percival is penalised for a foul on Foord now, in an advanced position for the Gunners, but Arsenal waste the resulting free-kick.
11 min: Arsenal’s Miedama has four goals in two matches so far this season, by the way. Two against West Ham and Reading before that. Now, Lisa Evans powers down the left flank this time for Arsenal, having been played in by the ever-impressive Miedama, and Foord tries to get to the near post to deflect the cross goalwards, but the ball ricochets out of play.
7 min: Arsenal hit the crossbar! Caitlin Foord climbs to meet an excellent cross from Leah Williamson out on the right, which drops around the penalty spot, and Foord powers a textbook header goalwards. But it cannons back off the crossbar having looped over Spencer in goal. A serious warning for Spurs.
5 min: It’s been a frenetic, high-paced start in keeping with any good north London derby. Kit Graham tries a shot for Tottenham from outside the penalty area, but her low effort lacks a bit of power and it’s a comfortable save for Manuela Zinsberger in the Arsenal goal.
After all the players and match officials take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, Arsenal get the match under way. Straight away there is defending to do for Spurs, but Miedama can’t quite reach a low forward pass in the penalty area.
The BBC on-screen team are wrapped up warm against the cold – after a sunny but windy morning it is a pretty unpleasant afternoon in London, with blustery winds, and rain in the air. Here we go – the teams are out, and we are less than two minutes from kick-off.
Arsenal head coach Joe Montemurro speaks to the BBC: “It’s important we give it our best shot … we want to go as far as we can, so it’s an important game for us.”
Asked about the story of the day Morgan, Montemurro’s Spurs counterpart Karen Hills tells the BBC: “She’s been fantastic in training this week, she’s worked really hard. It’s great for all the rest of the players just to have her around.” And will she play today? “She’s on the bench, so who knows?”
“It sent shockwaves, everyone was so surprised when Alex Morgan signed for Spurs,” says Alex Scott, on pundit duty on the BBC. “But that’s what you need to grow the game. You need superstars like that coming into the league.”
These FA Cup ties were initially meant to take place in March, so it’s been a long wait. The other three ties will be tomorrow: Everton v Chelsea, Leicester City v Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion v Birmingham City.
Now, while we await kick-off, here is some pre-match reading from Suzanne Wrack on Alex Morgan:
Four changes for Arsenal from their 9-1 hammering of West Ham.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Maritz, Schnaderbeck, Williamson, McCabe, Little, Van de Donk, Nobbs, Evans, Miedema, Foord. Subs: Stenson, Wubben-Moy, Mace, Maier, Gut, Mead.
Spurs team: Spencer (capt.), Zadorsky, Harrop, Davison, Peplow, Percival, Worm, Graham, Kennedy, Ayane, Neville. Subs: Martin, Leon, Green, Filbey, Dean, Morgan, Addison, Quinn, Sulola.
Tottenham’s stellar new signing Alex Morgan has already won a phenomenal amount: two World Cups and Olympic Gold with the USA, a Champions League, a French league title, an NWSL title and a plethora of prestigious personal awards.
One thing missing from Morgan’s CV so far, however, is a competitive outing for her new north-London club, but that could all change this afternoon. Morgan is on the bench as Spurs travel to Arsenal with a place in the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals up for grabs. History is certainly on Arsenal’s side, as 16-times winners of this competition, while their London rivals have never tasted success in the Cup.
Will Morgan be posting to her 9.2m loyal Instagram followers after victory or defeat later this evening? Combine Arsenal’s cup pedigree with their goal-scoring form of late – they thrashed West Ham 9-1 two weeks ago and Reading 6-1 less than a week before that – the home side are surely heavy favourites.
Tottenham handed out a heavy beating to Coventry United in the previous round of this competition, a 5-0 win, and since then have drawn 1-1 at home to West Ham and lost 1-0 away to Everton. But could Morgan’s introduction inspire them to an unlikely result against Joe Montemurro’s goal-hungry side? We are about to find out. Kick-off is at 5.15pm, full team news to follow …