Arsenal Women host Brighton in the WSL on Thursday, with the Gunners looking for their first win in 2022. Tobin Heath’s equalizer on Sunday ensured that the Gunners remained 4 points clear of Chelsea in the WSL, though that gap has been reduced to one point, after Chelsea beat West Ham today. Chelsea and Arsenal have played the same number of games now, giving Arsenal no room for error—especially with Manchester United a mere two points behind Arsenal.
Brighton, though, will not be easy opponents. Hope Powell’s side drew 0-0 with Chelsea on Sunday, and while Brighton lost to Arsenal 3-0 in last season’s FA Cup semi-final (that was of course played this season, in October), it took Arsenal until the second half to make the breakthrough. On that occasion, Brighton pressed Arsenal in a different shape, before dropping off, which they’re likely to do on Thursday. Brighton’s organized deep block has seen them frustrate better teams before: they have a good record against Chelsea, and beat Manchester United last season 1-0, while also taking points off of Manchester City. With Arsenal struggling against deep blocks as of late, it could be an evening of trying patience for the Gunners.
Katie McCabe was booked on Sunday so will miss the match. Leah Williamson came off after 45 minutes, a pre-planned move. With McCabe suspended, and Williamson still working her way back to full fitness, Arsenal could utilize a quite different back four. Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord, and Mana Iwabuchi are on international duty.
Stina Blackstenius could make her first start for Arsenal after two appearances off the bench. Blackstenius had a role in Heath’s equalizer on Sunday, working the ball over to the American, and in general, her physical play added a different component to Arsenal’s attack, especially given the positions she took up as a central striker. Blackstenius played with Miedema for the first time, with Miedema dropping off as a number 10/second striker, a combination we could see again, especially as Miedema likes being a number 10.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 26. Wienroither, 6. Williamson, 2. Rafaelle, 16. Maritz; 10. Little, 13. Wälti; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 77. Heath; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 24. Stenson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 8. Nobbs, 12. Maanum, 14. Parris, 20. Boye, 22. Schnaderbeck, 37. Head
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Brighton and Hove Albion Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Thursday, January 27th 11:30 AM PST | 2:30 PM EST | 7:30 PM GMT
WATCH: NBC Sports Live Extra (US, streaming), atafootball.com (US, streaming), Sky Sports (UK)