Arsenal Women are back in action after a lengthy international break. The Gunners host Brighton and Hove Albion in the 2020-21 Women’s FA Cup semi-final. Last season’s competition was delayed because of the third lockdown in England, with the final taking place on December 1. Arsenal will fancy their chances of facing either Chelsea or Manchester City at Wembley, but Hope Powell’s side are rapidly improving and have the capability to make Arsenal work hard for a place in the final.
Brighton beat Manchester United and Chelsea last season, while holding Manchester City to a draw. While the Seagulls lost both league matches against Arsenal last season, they made significant additions in the summer, including former Arsenal striker Dan Carter, as well as signing the hugely promising Rinsola Babajide from Liverpool. Carter has scored twice already in the WSL this campaign, as Brighton sit in 5th, with three wins from five games.
Powell’s side has retained their usual defensive organization and stinginess. They’ve given up the 6th fewest shots against in the WSL, while have the 4th best record on expected goals against, after Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham.
For Arsenal, this represents the earliest opportunity to have a chance at silverware. That will be paramount on Jonas Eidevall’s mind as the best way to mark his first six months at the club.
Arsenal will be without Vivianne Miedema, who was given the weekend off. Miedema didn’t play the second of the Netherlands’ fixtures over the international break, as Arsenal, the Netherlands, and Miedema came to an agreement to give her time off, having played during the Olympics and then come straight back into Arsenal’s lineup.
Beth Mead has had a productive international break, scoring a 14 minute hat trick as a substitute for England at Wembley against Northern Ireland, and then a goal and two assists against Latvia, who offered, with no disrespect, no real competition. It was, however, a return to goal-scoring form for Mead, who hasn’t scored for Arsenal since the 4-0 against Reading at the beginning of September. With Arsenal finding goals from all areas, this has been less of an issue, and Mead has retained her place in the team in part because of her counter-pressing. But with Miedema unavailable and Caitlin Foord and Tobin Heath having long flights returning from international duty, a scoring touch from Mead will be needed.
Predicted XI: 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 15. McCabe; 12. Maanum, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 8. Nobbs, 23. Iwabuchi; 14. Parris
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 4. Patten, 5. Beattie, 7. Catley, 13. Wälti, 19. Foord, 20. Boye, 77. Heath
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Brighton and Hove Albion Women, The Women’s FA Cup
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Sunday, October 31st 9:45 AM PDT | 12:45 PM EDT | 4:45 PM GMT