On Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur Women play what might be their biggest match of last season. Spurs travel to Meadow Park in Boreham Wood to play Arsenal in the quarterfinals of the 2019-20 FA Cup. The match may be last season’s competition, but it will be played with this season’s squads, a consequence of the COVID-19 shortened season that ended in March. Tottenham’s squad might include their newest and brightest signing, American superstar Alex Morgan.
Morgan, a two-time World Cup winner with USA who signed on loan from NWSL side Orlando Pride for the duration of the 2020-21 season, is quite honestly the biggest signing in English women’s football history. The announcement of her signing sent shockwaves throughout the WSL, not just because she’s coming to England but because she chose to sign with Spurs, and not one of the “Big Four” clubs that dominate the top flight — Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, and yes, Arsenal.
Tottenham Women and Arsenal Women have historically been miles apart in terms of quality, with Arsenal consistently battling for top flight titles, and Tottenham only promoting to the WSL last season. But the gap is narrowing. Last November, Tottenham battled hard at home, falling 2-0 to the Gunners in league play. Still a loss, but the narrowest loss they’ve ever had against Arsenal.
Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal is an opportunity for Morgan to come in and make a splash in English Women’s football. She’s already said she wants to score goals and help the club compete at the top of the table. There’s one catch — she may not be match fit. Morgan just joined training with her new Spurs teammates last week, and hasn’t played competitive football in nearly a year after having a baby in May.
Unfortunately, that means we don’t know if she will play against the Gunners on Saturday. She might, or she might start on the bench, or she might be left out entirely to work on her fitness with her debut coming later on. But there’s a chance. Tottenham co-head coach Juan Amoros told Sports Illustrated that all hurdles have been cleared, though a decision may not be made until right before the match.
“She is one of our players and as everyone else can be selected to play because all the paperwork has been done. We will have to wait until almost the last minute.”
“She has recently been a mum, her husband is still in America. There are a lot of things that can influence the next step, so we have to go step-by-step on this case and see how they adapt to London.
“The main aim is that she’s part of the Spurs family. She is already quite happy with how everything is going and the club and her team-mates are making her feel welcome. Obviously a player of that caliber, we want to keep her for as long as we can. We will see on that but the main thing is that she is happy and fits part of the family.”
Even with Morgan, beating Arsenal will be a tall order for this Tottenham team. Without her, the job becomes that much tougher. In fact, it’s never happened. Arsenal are led by Vivianne Miedema, a Dutch international and the league’s top scorer last season, and are loaded with a host of top international players including Scotland’s Kim Little, Australia’s Caitlin Foord, and fellow Dutchwomen Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord.
Meanwhile, in their first two WSL matches Spurs have found it difficult on the offensive end, and have not yet scored from open play this season, their only goal against West Ham coming courtesy of an own goal by Grace Fisk.
But Morgan has the ability to create goals out of nothing. The rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham is now starting to blossom on the women’s side, as it has on the men’s. Even if Morgan comes on as a second half impact substitute, her presence should give the squad a huge boost. And her legions of American fans may just try and watch this match to catch a glimpse of one of the best women’s soccer players ever.
The match is not televised in the United States, but is on BBC 2 in the UK and will streamed for free on The FA Player (registration required).
How to Watch
Arsenal vs. Tottenham (FA Cup Quarterfinal)
Saturday, September 26, 2020
12:15 p.m. ET, 5:15 p.m. BST
Meadow Park, Boreham Wood, Hertfordshire, UK
TV: not televised (USA), BBC 2 (UK)
Streaming: The FA Player (free, registration required)