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Arsenal Women tighten grip on Champions League place

A 4-0 win saw Arsenal go level with Manchester City, with the Gunners having a game in hand

Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal - Barclays Women’s Super League Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Arsenal Women kept on rolling on Wednesday night, beating Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0 at the People’s Pension Stadium in Crawley. Stina Blackstenius scored twice within the first eight minutes, with Frida Maanum and Victoria Pelova also scoring in the first half. The win sees Arsenal take full advantage of Manchester City’s slip up away at Liverpool, with Arsenal on the same number of points—44—with Arsenal having played 19 games to City’s 20, with a better goal difference. With the game dead as a contest, Arsenal didn’t add to score but managed the game, with Jonas Eidevall able to rest some players, and with Caitlin Foord making her return from injury.

The match was not without further injury problems for Arsenal. Substitute Gio, who came on for Rafaelle at half time, had to be substituted with twenty minutes to go, having picked up a knock in a challenge before she was about to shoot. And, Arsenal had to rejig their starting lineup, with Lia Wälti pulling out with illness. Wälti was replaced by Jodie Taylor, who played as a number 10—a sentence I didn’t imagine writing at any point this season in all honesty. Taylor, though, created Arsenal’s second goal with her counter-pressing forcing a turnover for Blackstenius, who strode through the Brighton defence to score. Blackstenius was a constant threat; aside from the two goals, she had a third disallowed for offside, when she looked on, she shot into the sidenetting, hit the bar with a header, and tried to set-up Taylor. Speaking after the match, Jonas Eidevall said, “she has worked so hard on the training ground to be more dangerous and the period she comes from, her off the ball positioning has really improved. She works hard on the time of her runs. Today she constantly is this outlet when they are trying to step up and put pressure on us and we can find her in behind.”

Arsenal’s key performer was Victoria Pelova, who replaced Wälti in the #6 role, and scored her first league goal for Arsenal. She was named the Player of the Match by Sky Sports. Eidevall praised her for being “so coachable,” and being able to take on information throughout the match.