Arsenal Women face Brighton tomorrow, looking to maintain the pace at the top of the Women’s Super League. Despite defeat in the Continental Cup final, the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich and the associated fallout, Chelsea won midweek to close the gap to 5 points, with Chelsea having two games in hand. Chelsea play earlier on Sunday, but Arsenal need to focus on what they can control: their own results.
Sunday kicks off a busy period for Arsenal, who play 6 games in three weeks, before another international break. That includes a cup game and two Champions League games, plus a North London Derby. Jonas Eidevall has a fairly strength team to pick from, as well as players in good form, as Arsenal look to win their fourth game on the trot.
Arsenal and Brighton played in January, and Brighton went ahead. The second half, though, saw Arsenal completely turn the game around when, in all truth, their title charge was on the brink. That resiliency has served Arsenal well since, and the Gunners have really found an extra gear in recent weeks.
Brighton, on the other hand, have been as streaky as ever. Knocked out of the Cup by Reading, the Seagulls lost 4-0 to Spurs, then beat Reading 4-1 (who they lost to in the Cup), before grinding out a 1-0 win against Aston Villa—a typical Brighton performance under Hope Powell, who has established them as a resident in the mid-table area of the WSL. Typically well organized, Brighton can be a tricky proposition as Arsenal have seen this season.
Tobin Heath will miss out, having been given an injection in her knee. Nikita Parris will likely return to the squad.
Rafaelle Souza scored her first goal for Arsenal last weekend, and though she was at some fault for Birmingham’s second goal, it was a rare error from a player who has done nothing but impress since joining in January.
Rafaelle has formed an instant partnership with Leah Williamson, offering a left-footed analogue to Williamson’s ball-playing ability. In addition to being excellent with the ball, Rafaelle is also a very good front-footed defender, which is crucial for Eidevall’s pressing and structure off the ball, as Rafaelle allows the defensive line to play a little higher. Furthermore, she also has good recovery pace—something Arsenal have struggled with at times.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 2. Rafaelle Souza, 7. Catley; 13. Wälti, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 15. McCabe; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 18. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 5. Beattie, 8. Nobbs, 12. Maanum, 14. Parris, 19. Foord, 23. Iwabuchi, 26. Wienroither
WHAT: Brighton and Hove Albion Women vs Arsenal Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Broadfield Stadium, Crawley
WHEN: Sunday, March 13th 11:45 AM PDT | 2:45 PM EDT | 6:45 PM GMT
WATCH: NBC Sports Live Extra (US, streaming), atafootball.com (US, streaming), Sky Sports (UK)