Having lost 4-1 in the Continental Cup against Chelsea on Wednesday, Arsenal are back in the more familiar comforts of the Women’s Super League on Sunday as they travel to Crawley to face Hope Powell’s Brighton. With Manchester United having beaten Tottenham earlier today, Arsenal will want to win not only to regain the top spot in the division, but also to take advantage of Chelsea and Manchester City’s clash later on Sunday.
Arsenal have beaten Brighton in every meeting in the WSL, winning 4-1 and 4-0 in 2018/19, and 4-0 in both fixtures last season. Powell’s side did hold Arsenal to a 0-0 draw in the Continental Cup last season, and has started this campaign well—a 2-0 win over Birmingham and a 0-0 draw away at City before losing to United last week. While Brighton’s strengths are defensive organization, playing in a deep block, they do have threats to Arsenal’s defence, with Inessa Kaagman in midfield, and Denise O’Sullivan, who arrived on loan from North Carolina Courage. O’Sullivan was named as MVP by her teammates in back to back seasons, and is a very good box to box player, equally adept at creating and dictating play as well as winning the ball back.
Arsenal are definitely in the midst of an injury crisis. Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little missed the mid-week cup tie with hamstring issues. Joe Montemurro said post-match that Brighton may be “too soon” for both. Jill Roord is not yet back from injury, and Steph Catley and Lydia Williams should both be back after the international break at the end of the month. Lisa Evans is out with a calf injury, and as a result, hasn’t been called up by Scotland.
Player to watch: Caitlin Foord
After several different permutations at the beginning of the season, injuries have dictated a front three of Caitlin Foord, Vivianne Miedema, and Beth Mead, who have started the last three fixtures. In those three games, the three of Foord and Miedema have scored three of Arsenal’s five goals , while Mead and Foord have set up three goals.
The three balance out quite well. Playing Foord from the left allows Miedema to drop off the front line, while Mead can stretch play on the right. Foord’s combination play is quite good, but when she comes off the left hand side she can do a variety of things: set up chances for others with cross-field passes, carry the ball, or shoot.
With a very small sample, Foord leads Arsenal in successful dribbles per 90 minutes, and is second overall to Miedema with 6 dribbles (Miedema has 7). She also is top in attempted dribbles per 90 and joint top in total dribbles, with Mead and Miedema, who all have 10. Her insertion into the lineup has given Arsenal added power, but also upped the capability of Arsenal’s front three to rotate positions, which gives an added variety to the attack when facing deep-lying defences.
Predicted lineup (4-3-3)
1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 5. Beattie, 15. McCabe; 21. Gut, 13. Wälti, 7. Van de Donk; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord
Substitutes: 24. Stenson (GK), 3. Wubben-Moy, 20. Maier, 22. Schnaderbeck, 30. Mace
WHAT: Brighton and Hove Albion Women vs Arsenal Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: The People’s Pension Stadium, Crawley Torn
WHEN: Sunday, October 11th 4:30 AM PDT | 7:30 AM EDT | 12:30 PM BST
TV: NBCSN, NBC Live extra (streaming), BBC Red Button (UK)