Arsenal Women travel to Crawley to face high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion. Albion, under head coach Mel Phillips have taken four points from Manchester United and Manchester City in their last two games, and enter the weekend comfortably in 8th place. Arsenal, after last weekend’s comeback, are second, and with Chelsea having won this weekend, Arsenal need to win. Here are three things to watch for.
Can Arsenal lead?
Arsenal have not had a straightforward win yet in the WSL this season. Last weekend ended up being the most comfortable margin of victory, but Arsenal were 2-0 down at halftime, resulting in the second come from behind victory of the season. 7 of Arsenal’s points have been won from being behind, but Jonas Eidevall would surely like to see Arsenal grab more control of a fixture and not have to come from behind. While the manager credits Arsenal’s task-orientation for being able to rescue games, there does have to be some growth in not going behind, especially against a team that has taken points from both Manchester clubs in recent weeks.
Kim Little and Lia Wälti missed last week’s win. In previous seasons, the absence of two of Arsenal’s most dependable and quality midfielders would’ve sparked a crisis, but in Kyra Cooney-Cross and Victoria Pelova, Arsenal have two excellent ball playing central midfielders. There were aspects of the defensive side of the game that could cause Eidevall concern — it was too easy for Leicester players to run behind the midfield duo — but the verticality and physical attributes of both Cooney-Cross and Pelova made a huge impact in the second half. Pelova has forced herself into the team, either as a #8 or as a #10, and will surely start against Brighton. The curiosity will be who joins her in midfield: Wälti was back in training, and could start with Cooney-Cross, or Frida Maanum could start as a #10 again.
Stina Blackstenius struck from the bench again, as did Lina Hurtig. Beth Mead had three excellent chances to score. Eidevall has long talked up the concept of a finishing XI, but now he has a squad that can have players who make huge impacts from the bench. In Blackstenius and Mead, there are two players who have been starters for Arsenal and their national team, but also have qualities that are valuable from the bench, especially against tiring defences, with their directness and ability to run the channels. Don’t be surprised to see both come on around the hour mark to give Arsenal a new angle of attack.
Predicted lineup (4231): 1. Zinsberger; 15. McCabe, 28. Ilestedt, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley; 32. Cooney-Cross, 13. Wälti; 24. Lacasse, 21. Pelova, 19. Foord; 23. Russo
Substitutes: 14. D’Angelo (GK), 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 12. Maanum, 16. Maritz, 17. Hurtig, 25. Blackstenius, 27. Codina, 32. Cooney-Cross
WHAT: Brighton and Hove Albion Women v Arsenal Women, WSL
WHEN: Sunday, November 19th, 9:00 AM EST/6:00 AM PST/2:00 PM GMT
WHERE: Boradfield Stadium, Crawley
HOW TO WATCH: Paramount+ (US, streaming), Sky Sports (UK)