Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Brighton highlighted the team’s tactical resilience and depth, overcoming injury setbacks and showcasing a balanced attack and defence.
The Gunners had been struggling a bit defensively but could always count on a formidable team of attackers to get wins, and the Brighton game was a welcome return to a strong and resolute defensive performance in a 3-0 win.
The only player left out of the 20 matchday squad was Gio Queiroz, who is unfortunately not registered in the Arsenal 25-player squad.
The starting XI, playing in 4-4-2, was Manuela Zinsberger; Noelle Maritz, Stina Ilestedt, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Katie McCabe; Beth Mead, Victoria Pelova, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord; Alessia Russo, Stina Blackstenius.
The Swedish striker led the line on the shoulder of the last defender, and the England forward played as a withdrawn striker just behind her.
At the back, Maritz was reinstated in the starting XI, and McCabe was selected ahead of Steph Catley.
In central midfield, the Pelova / Cooney-Cross duo was given another go following their good performance at Leicester.
Lia Wälti, coming back from injury, was sent on as a substitute late in the game to stabilise the central area.
The Arsenal centre-back pairing Ilestedt/ Wubben-Moy is starting to gel, and both players performed very well. They were strong in the duels, and Wubben-Moy also added some progressive passing alongside her defensive input.
The main defensive scares came from the lack of compactness at times in the defensive block, as mentioned by the manager in the post-game press conference: “I think we gave them way too much time and space in the first half,” Eidevall said.
“They are quite an expansive organisation and like to switch from side-to-side, which of course can stretch your organisation if you can’t keep at them, especially if you’re not close enough to them to impact that quality on the pass.”
On the attacking side, Arsenal were lagging on goal difference in comparison to the other top teams, and that 3-0 win has put them now in second place alongside Manchester United with +9 while Manchester City have +8.
Chelsea are way ahead with +18 so far.
Sunday’s results mean Arsenal stay in second place, three points behind Chelsea, who hammered Liverpool 5-1.
City won 3-1 away in the Manchester Derby.
They overtake United and go third. Tottenham, who drew at Leicester, are level on points with United.
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At the bottom, Villa are climbing up the table with their second win in a row 3-2 at West Ham, after five straight defeats. Bristol managed to get a point at Everton. The Toffees are only one point clear of the relegation zone.
Next up for Arsenal is Southampton, a Championship side in the Continental Cup group stage matchday 2 on Thursday, where we can expect a little bit of rotation, if the three injured players are back.
Games are coming thick and fast as Arsenal will then be at home at Boreham Wood against West Ham on Sunday. We certainly see the benefits of having a large squad this season, with rotation possible, and having fresh attacking legs available at every game is a game changer compared to last season.