Arsenal Women remain top of the WSL after beating Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0. First half goals from Danïelle van de Donk and Jill Roord gave Arsenal control of the match, and their position never looked in danger.
Arsenal entered the match level on points with Manchester City, who had beaten Everton on Saturday night, and needing victory ahead of next week’s six-pointer with Chelsea. Brighton are the only team in all competitions to stop Arsenal scoring this season, having drawn 0-0 with a rotated Arsenal side in the Continental Cup in November.
In November, Brighton were organized, denying Arsenal space and playing into the channels. Wanting to increase the pressure, Joe Montemurro named an aggressive side, playing a 3-1-3-3 system, playing all of Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs and Jill Roord in midfield. While this system usually requires wingbacks, Montemurro effectively had his wide centre backs, Leah Williamson and Viki Schanderbeck, play as full backs, with Lisa Evans and Van de Donk wide higher up the pitch. The move paid off within four minutes; after building-play on the right, a long switch from Williamson found Van de Donk on the left, who burst past the right back, and drove towards goal, before dinking Megan Walsh in goal.
Arsenal were in control without creating clear-chances, but the second goal came on 31 minutes, and was again created by Wiliamson. From a right back position, her long pass found Roord, who had pushed forward from midfield, and was unmarked. Roord took one touch to control and a second to fire into the bottom corner for her first goal in the league since the opening day of the season.
Brighton had a period of pressure at the end of the first half, with Manuela Zinsberger palming away a cross, before Emily Simpkins went close.
Arsenal started the second half much as they began the first, with Nobbs scoring the third goal in the 51st minute. It was a brilliant team goal, with Van de Donk’s pass dummied by Vivianne Miedema, leaving Nobbs in the penalty box, where she slotted home confidently.
With the match won and Arsenal facing a potential run of five games in two weeks, the Gunners went down a gear, while never letting Brighton back into the match. Beth Mead, on as a substitute after ankle bruising, scored the fourth. Walsh fumbled a shot, and took down Leonie Maier, who was pouncing on the rebound. The ball fell to Mead, who scored just as it seemed the referee was going to give a penalty.
Arsenal play next on Wednesday, with a quarter-final in the Continental Cup against Reading.
Arsenal 4 (Van de Donk 4’, Roord 31’, Nobbs 51’, Mead 89’)
Arsenal (3-1-3-3): Zinsberger; Williamson (Maier 76’), Quinn, Schanderbeck; Wälti; Little (Mead 66’), Nobbs (McCabe 76’), Roord; Evans, Miedema, Van de Donk
Subs not used: Peyraud-Magnin, Filis, Grant