WSL Opener: Arsenal v Brighton and Hove Albion
Arsenal kick off the Women's Super League with a 4-0 win over Brighton
19 September 2022
Arsenal won the opening match of the 2022/23 Barclays Women’s Super League 4-0 against Brighton & Hove Albion in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,238 at Meadow Park. Emma Kullberg was sent off early on for the visitors, and then the home side took near enough total control with the goals coming from Kim Little, Stina Blackstenius and two from Beth Mead.
Jonas Eidevall named two of the Lionesses Euro 2022 winners in his starting line-up with Leah Williamson and Player of the Tournament and Top Scorer Beth Mead included. Hope Powell gave debuts to Jorja Fox, Poppy Pattinson, Veatriki Sarri and Elisabeth Terland in Brighton’s starting eleven.
Before the match started, there were tributes and a minutes applause for Arsenal super-fan Maria Petri who died in July, and then a minutes silence and the National Anthem was played in tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Artwork: Charlotte Stacey
Arsenal had the first chance of the game in the 5th minute when Rafaelle headed wide at the far post from a corner.
Brighton were reduced to ten players two minutes later when Blackstenius was played through and Kullberg brought her down on the edge of the area. The Brighton defender was shown a straight red card as she was the last defender.
Arsenal had plenty of chances in the next 15 minutes or so with Mead seeing a free kick deflected wide, Vivianne Miedema having an effort blocked, Megan Walsh saving shots from Caitlin Foord and Mead, and Foord shooting just wide and then having another effort saved.
Brighton had a chance in the 26th minute when they broke quickly, as they had tried a few times earlier in the half unsuccessfully, and this time the ball reached Terland but her shot went narrowly wide.
In the 28th minute, Arsenal did take the lead when Foord took advantage of a slip in the Brighton defence and passed back to Little who took a touch and finished low into the net.
The home side continued to dominate up to half time with Blackstenius seeing her effort from the edge of the area hit the crossbar, Foord shot wide after a lovely through ball from Miedema, Mead shot over from the edge of the area, Walsh tipped away a shot from Lia Walti, and Rafaelle had a header from a corner cleared off the line. There were times when Arsenal were playing with a line of six up front but it was only 1-0 at the break despite all the chances they had had.
Arsenal’s first chance of the second half came in the 48th minute when Blackstenius had an effort saved but the offside flag was up anyway. A minute later, Brighton had a chance of their own but Manuela Zinsberger made a good save to keep out Katie Robinson’s shot.
That turned out to be a big save as just a minute later, Mead turned and passed to Blackstenius who finished into the top corner to make it 2-0 to Arsenal.
Arsenal were dominating possession, and they added a third in the 63rd minute when Miedema pulled the ball back to Mead who finished first time low into the corner of the net from about 8-yards out.
A minute later, Lina Hurtig came on to make her Arsenal debut. Arsenal continued to create chances with Hurtig providing a lovely back-heel to Mead but the final ball was missing, Miedema had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for offside, and Walsh saved from Mead and Frida Maanum.
Brighton did look dangerous on the odd occasion when they broke forward with Little putting a low cross from the away side behind for a corner. The corner came to nothing.
Arsenal hit the crossbar again in the 81st minute when Jordan Nobbs saw her effort come back off the woodwork this time.
It was 4-0 two minutes later when Maanum had a shot saved and the rebound fell to Mead who controlled, took a nice touch past a defender and goalie and finished into the net.
Arsenal had further chances in the last five minutes with Mead seeing her shot blocked, Maanum putting a low cross across the front of goal that Hurtig was unable to get on the end of, and both Nobbs and McCabe sending shots well over.
A comfortable win for Arsenal and it could have been more if more clinical. Brighton did have a couple of good chances of their own though. Arsenal’s next game is at home to Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday evening at Meadow Park before they face Tottenham in the WSL at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, whilst Brighton’s next game is at home to Reading next Sunday at the Amex Stadium.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Wienroither, Williamson (Wubben-Moy 83’), Rafaelle, McCabe, Walti (Maanum 77’), Little, Mead, Miedema (Nobbs 77’), Foord (Catley 64’), Blackstenius (Hurtig 64’)
Unused substitutes: Marckese, Beattie, Maritz, Iwabuchi
Goals – Little 28’, Blackstenius 50’, Mead 63’, 83’
Booked – Foord (59’)
Brighton & Hove Albion: Walsh, Fox, Williams, Kullberg, Pattinson, Bance (Robinson 45’), Zigiotti (Ferguson 86’), Lee, Sarri, Terland, Green
Unused substitutes: Startup, Park, Jarvis
Sent off – Kullberg (7’)
Referee – Lisa Benn
Attendance - 3238