47 min: A quiet start, Hoffenheim mainly passing the ball around. Do Arsenal go all out for a third?
Peeeep! The second half begins!
Arsenal get us underway again.
Charles Antaki emails: “When a team seems to be misfiring on most cylinders, you need some quality players tonight things together. Arsenal fans can once again bless Leah Williamson, Kim Little and, increasingly, Frida Maanum for keeping things on an even keel.”
Hoffenheim are making a sub for the second half – Corley replaces De Caigney, who had an early shot but was otherwise quiet.
In Group D, Lyon are 2-0 up against Benfica – ex-Arsenal player Danielle van de Donk one of the scorers.
Half-time – Arsenal 2-0 Hoffenheim
This wasn’t vintage stuff, but Arsenal scored during their two spells of sustained pressure and deserve their lead, which should be enough now. Hoffenheim started brightly and will rue an early chance missed by Billa.
Goal! Arsenal 2-0 Hoffenheim (Heath 45+)
They’d just started to find their range again and it’s a lovely goal. McCabe – I think – arrows a cross over from the left and Miedema nods down astutely for Heath, who had a mixed time before that, to finish with aplomb!
45 min: Now a lovely bit of play from Miedema, who slaloms inside Naschenweng after dropping deep again, rightly draws ooohs and aaahs from the crowd.
43 min: Now Miedema, generally quiet, surges through the middle but overcooks her pass for a frustrated Heath.
41 min: Arsenal are perhaps trying to be too deliberate passing out, against a hungry pressing side, when they could try to assert themselves a little by going longer and turning them around. It might not be their style but if it gets you on top in a phase of the game then surely needs must. As I type, though, they usually create a lovely goal as Williamson drives forward from the back but *just* can’t weight her pass for the totally open Heath, who has to check back.
39 min: This is certainly a scrappy phase. Zinsberger, though, has to be smart to catch an opportunistic effort from range by Hagel.
36 min: Now Arsenal nearly get themselves into a spot of defensive bother. The game has evened out again now.
34 min: Brand is a big threat and wriggles to the byline, but Arsenal scramble away. At the other end, Feldkamp aims a possibly wind-assisted backpass towards Tufekovic from about yards – it’s way overhit and she’s fortunate it sails behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.
31 min: When they don’t turn it on, they should go two down. This time they try to play out but make a mess of it, and Miedema has a great position on the left of the box. Oddly, she tries to square for Little rather than shoot – and it’s intercepted when really the net could be rippling.
29 min: Zinsberger plucks a Brand cross out of the air after Hoffenheim again move slickly. When they turn it on, they do look good.
27 min: Hoffenheim do nicely to play through Arsenal’s press and launch a by-now rare attack, but Billa doesn’t read Brand’s reverse pass and the move fizzles out.
25 min: Arsenal look full of the joys now. Hoffenheim are getting somewhat frayed.
23 min: I’ll take that back. It looked initially that, as the ball bounced up, Specht cleared it and caught Mead after doing so. But in fact Specht did clip Mead first, from the replay I’ve just seen showed. Shouldn’t have doubted Stephanie Frappart, who is a highly accomplished referee.
Goal! Arsenal 1-0 Hoffenheim (Little pen, 21)
Slotted in consummately and Arsenal lead! Might want to look at that penalty award again though – Hoffenheim are not happy and they have a point.
Penalty to Arsenal!
Mead is felled by Specht in the box … and a penalty is given!
19 min: Heath finds space inside the box but undercooks her centre and it’s cleared. But now …
18 min: Tufekovic took a whack there and is receiving some treatment in her six-yard box. She’ll be OK. In the meantime Arsenal take some instructions from the side. They’ve felt their way into the game after a sketchy start.
16 min: On the opposite flank Mead, coming into the game for the first time, is bundled over near the right corner of the box. This is a great position and potential McCabe range, albeit at an angle. She whips one in low, you suspect part going for goal and part looking for a snick, and it’s bravely held by the keeper Tufekovic under pressure from Wubben-Moy.
14 min: Heath does well now, gliding away down the left before backheeling towards Nobbs, who wins a corner. From that, Maanum has a go at emulating her weekend cracker against Everton from range. Not this time.
12 min: A bit better from Arsenal, who work the ball forward smoothly before Heath, out on the left, is outmuscled and they are forced back. This little spell of possession should do them good.
9 min: De Caigny, Hoffenheim’s Belgian forward, lashes a half-volley not far over from 20 yards after more good work from Brand. Arsenal are not having things remotely their own way early on.
7 min: Arsenal a little wayward under pressure, Williamson spraying a pass out of play from defence. Shortly afterwards Billa tries to get in behind but is flagged offside – incorrectly, I think.
6 min: Hoffenheim do look sharp. Brand tries a slaloming run through the middle but it’s ultimately snuffed out. Nice early tempo here with both sides having a go.
4 min: Arsenal respond quickly and force a corner, which is headed away at the back post with Miedema lurking.
3 min: Should be 1-0 to Hoffenheim! The defence get in a mess after a left-sided cross is nodded down and Billa, the dangerous centre-forward, swivels before shooting wide from a great position.
2 min: Hoffenheim are clearly happy to press high with aggression. As Arsenal worked the ball across their back line, there were six away players hunting in their defensive third.
Peeeeeep! Away we go!
Hoffenheim, right to left, kick us off.
The Hoffenheim team, in blue, look very relaxed. Lots of laughing and bonhomie before they come out. But now Arsenal emerge onto the pitch, led by Kim Little – we’re kicking off soon!
Not too long til things get underway in Borehamwood, where Arsenal play their home games. The pitch is being forked and looks in fine condition. Fans are trickling in. The teams are gathering in the tunnel area …
In Group D, meanwhile, Bayern Munich have beaten Hacken 4-0 to move onto four points from two games. Good start to the night for Bundesliga fans …
In fresh Group C news, Barcelona have just won tonight’s other game 2-0 away at HB Koge. It puts them out on six points from six, although that’s not a particularly convincing scoreline given we know Hoffenheim hit the Danes for five. The second goal was an added-time penalty. Should Arsenal be warned?
Read Suzanne Wrack’s interview with Beth Mead to get you in the mood for the match.
Arsenal have been firing domestically – five wins in five and playing some super football under Jonas Eidevall. Now all they need is to get their Champions League group stage campaign up and running. There was little shame in losing 4-1 to a staggeringly good Barcelona team first time out – Barca are, as Chelsea discovered, head and shoulders above the rest of Europe – but it does means they could use three points against Hoffenheim here.
The German side finished third in last season’s Frauen Bundesliga and have begun their Group C obligations in rattling good form, thumping HB Koge 5-0. So victory and a narrowing of the goal difference would go down a storm here for the Gunners, who *should* have enough to win but Hoffenheim are known for being a bold, adventurous side who will look to play on the front foot and ask questions. Given that Arsenal are too, this should be a fun one!
Stay close for buildup and then, yes, minute-by-minute (is) updates! And by all means get your emails and tweets flooding in too.