Following Thursday night’s routine Champions League victory over Fiorentina, Arsenal are straight back in the saddle with a WSL game against Hope Powell’s unbeaten Brighton side. The Seagulls came within a whisker of beating Chelsea in their most recent league match, going ahead in the 88th minute, before the Blues grabbed a stoppage time equaliser.
Under Powell, Brighton are an organised and stubborn unit and with Ini Umotong upfront, they have a very dangerous avenue for counter attacks. This game brings the curtain down on a packed September schedule for the Gunners, which has seen them play five games so far, winning all five. The performances have been gradually improving in that time as the new players begin to find their feet in the team.
1️⃣ assist pic.twitter.com/JnSSBDT6xb
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 26, 2019
Joe Montemurro’s side have not dropped a single point against any team outside of the top three since April 2018 when they suffered a shock 0-0 draw with Yeovil Town. They were made to wait until the 89th minute away at Manchester United on matchday two. The Gunners will want to give themselves a more comfortable afternoon this time around, but there are no guarantees against a much improved Seagulls team.
Katrine Veje (foot) and Louise Quinn (calf) will miss out, as Joe Montemurro confirmed to me on Thursday, but both should return for the Chelsea game after the international break. Danielle Carter (knee) and Tabea Kemme (knee) are both out for the foreseeable future. Leah Williamson came through Thursday night ok after picking up a small knock on her calf against London City Lionesses.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 27, 2019
LAST TIME OUT
Arsenal ran out 4-1 winners at Meadow Park last November. Brighton took a shock lead through Ini Umotong, but first-half strikes from Dominique Bloodworth, Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk and a second half goal from Beth Mead gave the Gunners the victory. Montemurro’s side sealed the league title with a 4-0 win at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium back in April, with goals from Vivianne Miedema, Katie McCabe, Beth Mead and Danielle van de Donk.
PLAYER TO WATCH
It’s fair to say that it took Vivianne Miedema a few games to get into the swing of the 2019-20 season, understandably so after her World Cup exploits. A tight hamstring means she has been handled with kid gloves in the opening weeks, but on Thursday against Fiorentina, her sharpness and fitness seemed closer to last season’s levels.
She was swift to pounce on a loose ball in the Viola defence for her goal and pressed and harried Fiorentina’s centre-halves, suggesting her physical condition is improving. The voters of the FIFPRO World XI might have forgotten that the Dutch striker exists, but Hope Powell and the Brighton defence won’t make the same mistake on Sunday.
1.ZINSBERGER, 20.MAIER, 22.SCHNADERBECK, 5.BEATTIE, 15.McCABE, 14.ROORD, 10.LITTLE (c), 7.VAN DE DONK, 17.EVANS, 23.MEAD, 11.MIEDEMA. Subs: 3.Mitchell, 6.Williamson, 8.Nobbs, 13.Wälti, 18.Peyraud-Magnin.
Brighton were promoted to the WSL in 2018 after deciding to invest well in their women’s team and they stayed up comfortably, finishing 9th out of 11 teams. However, last season troubled Yeovil Town were in the division, who only managed two wins and a draw all campaign (they were also deducted 10 points after entering administration).
There doesn’t seem to be a team in the WSL this year who are by far and away inferior to all others, which makes the relegation battle an intriguing one. Manchester United and Spurs are the promoted teams this time and they have been backed with investment. In short, Brighton know they need to do more to stay afloat this season and, so far, they are responding to the challenge with hard fought draws against Bristol City and Chelsea in September.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match kicks off at 12.30pm at Meadow Park on Sunday, with tickets available on the door priced at £12 adults and £6 children. Otherwise, the match is being screened live on the BBC Red Button in the UK, or else you can watch it streamed live through the FA Player app, which you can download below.
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— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) September 2, 2019
Viewers in Central America can watch on Sky Mexico, whilst those in Scandinavia can watch on NENT.
We’ll have exclusive player reaction to the game on the site on Sunday afternoon and a short analysis piece later on Sunday evening too. The next episode of the Arsenal Women Arsecast will be released next week and features a chat with The Athletic’s women’s football writer Kieran Thievam. Kieran recently met Joe Montemurro’s brother and childhood best friend to get the lowdown on the Gunners boss and his formative years. We chat with Kieran about Joe and also Vivianne Miedema’s omission from the FIFPRO World XI. Pippa and I will also be chatting with new signing Jill Roord about life in North London following her summer move from Bayern Munich.