The England Women’s football team kicked off their 2023 Arnold Clark Cup on Thursday night (16 February). But what exactly is this tournament that the Lionesses will play in?
First taking place in 2022, the Arnold Clark Cup is a four-team tournament featuring nations that the FA invite to play. Therefore, England have had a squad in both editions of the Cup.
The competition allows international teams to test their mettle against one another for silverware in front of large crowds. So, the Cup provides a great proving ground in preparation for major international tournaments, such as the Euros and World Cup.
For those who don’t know, car dealership chain, Arnold Clark, gives the cup its name as title sponsor.
Like last year’s competition, the 2023 Arnold Clark Cup takes place during the women’s domestic football international break. The matches thus occur throughout the rest of February.
So, now we have some background on the tournament, how exactly does it work?
Put simply, all four teams play each other once across three rounds of fixtures. Following traditional football formats, a win is worth three points, a draw one point, and a loss zero. Whichever team earns the most points from their three matches wins the trophy. Simple.
Of course, if there is a tie, the team with the superior goal difference wins.
Last year, the Lionesses claimed the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup. Despite finishing on five points – the same as runner-up Spain – England came in first due to their better goal difference.
The FA has invited three different sides to take on England this month.
Arnold Clark Cup 2023: the teams and fixtures
The Lionesses have their first match of the mini tournament against South Korea on Thursday. This takes place at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, kicking off at 7.45pm.
Beforehand, at 4.45pm on the same day, the other two sides in the four-team cup face off. These are Italy and Belgium, who will also play the same venue as England v South Korea.
Following this, the tournament moves to the CBS Arena in Coventry for matchday two. Sarina Wiegman’s side face Italy at 3.15pm on Sunday 19 February, then Belgium v South Korea starts at 6.15pm.
Ashton Gate in Bristol hosts the final day of the Arnold Clark Cup in front of a sell-out crowd. Firstly, Korea and Italy complete their last fixture, kicking off at 4.45pm on 22 February. The Lionesses finally bring the tournament to a close with a clash against Belgium.
Here are the fixture start times and dates, to recap:
Thursday 16 February 2023
Italy v Belgium – 4.45pm kick-off
England v South Korea – 7.45pm kick-off
Sunday 19 February 2023
England v Italy – 3.15pm kick-off
Belgium v South Korea – 6.15pm kick-off
Wednesday 22 February 2023
South Korea v Italy – 4.45pm kick-off
England v Belgium – 7.45pm kick-off
For England, this tournament serves as ideal competitive preparation for the upcoming World Cup. In July, the Lionesses will head to Australia & New Zealand to try and claim an elusive first world title.
These three teams will certainly put the squad through their paces in the Arnold Clark Cup, though. Additionally, from a fan perspective, it is another chance to see the heroes of last summer’s Euros triumph in some exciting match-ups.
If you cannot make it to a game, the matches are also available to watch live on ITV.
Featured image credit: Getty