An otherwise innocuous mid-table FA Women's Super League clash could turn out to be the game of the weekend as eighth placed Tottenham Hotspur travel to seventh placed Brighton and Hove Albion.
Hope Powell, in her own words, went "back to basics" after Brighton's horrific 3-0 loss to Bristol City in January. Since then, the Seagulls have recorded back to back wins in the WSL for the first time in their history and ended Chelsea's historic run of 33 matches unbeaten.
At home, Brighton have just one win since the opening day of the season, a tidy 2-0 victory over Birmingham City. Five of their seven home fixtures have ended in defeat.
Spurs come into this fixture off the back of three consecutive defeats. Rehanne Skinner's side showed spirit, and a direct attacking style in their 3-2 defeat to Everton at home last weekend. However, the Lilywhites failed to score in the two away defeats prior to the Everton loss, managing just four shots total shots on goal in that time.
If Spurs can muster the same attacking intent they summon at the Hive Stadium and then transport it to East Sussex on Sunday, then Brighton will have to be at their best to remain unscathed. Anything could happen.
The match kicks off Sunday 7th March at The People’s Pension Stadium at 14:00 GMT.
With no new injury concerns, it is likely that Powell will opt to stick with her winning XI. Lee Geum-min has split playing time evenly this season with her attacking counterpart Rianna Jarrett, but should continue to start as Brighton’s lone striker.
Cho So-Hyun was a late omission from the Spurs team last weekend, after picking up an injury in the warm up. Should she recover from that muscle issue, then she will partner the powerful Allana Kennedy in the defensive base of Spurs’ midfield. Long term absentees Becky Spencer and Ashleigh Neville are expected to miss out, but Skinner could recall the fit again Siri Worm, who hasn’t featured since December.
(4-2-3-1) Brighton: Walsh (GK), Le Tissier, Williams, Kerkdjik, Koivisto, Connolly, Whelan, Heroum, Kaagman, Brazil, Lee
(4-2-3-1) Tottenham: Mikalsen (GK), Morgan, Zadorsky, McManus, Harrop, Cho, Kennedy, Addison, Graham, Davison, Ayane
Ones to watch
Call it coincidence, call it a direct result, but Emma Koivisto’s introduction into the Brighton team has been perfectly timed with their upturn in fortunes. The Finn made her debut in the miraculous 2-1 win over Chelsea, earning numerous plaudits for her relentless energy, confidence in the tackle and ability to obstruct the entire right hand side of the Chelsea attack.
Signed from Goteborg FC at the very end of the January transfer window, Koivisto comes into this match with an unusual status: a 100% win record as a Brighton player. Look out for the full back’s marauding runs out of the defense, positive and precarious in equal measure, as well as her link up play with fellow countrywoman Nora Heroum.
Before Skinner arrived, Spurs were over reliant on set pieces to create goal scoring opportunities. Every single one of their six goals from their opening seven matches, were scored from set pieces. After their left back, and set piece taker, Siri Worm picked up an injury, they had had no choice but to adapt.
Enter Kit Graham. After missing time with an injury, Graham was reintroduced into the side for their 3-1 victory over Aston Villa in December. She has since started four of Spurs’ past five matches has an attacking midfielder. Spurs’ goals from open play per match have risen from 0.11 per match to 0.66 per match in that time. Despite only playing 525 minutes this season, she ranks second on the team for SCA(shot creating actions), with 18.
Graham got her first assist of the season last weekend against Everton and showed that not only can she help ignite Spurs on the ball, but her aggressive style off the ball can help spark Tottenham counter attacks. Put simply, out of something or out of nothing, Graham can make Spurs tick.
Tottenham have a 100% record against the Seagulls in the WSL, winning all three of their previous meetings. Earlier this season, Rehanne Skinner’s first game in charge was an easy 3-1 victory for Spurs at the Hive Stadium.
Last season, it was a much tighter affair. A pair of 1-0 victories, home and away, were just enough to eek out vital wins for Spurs. A Victoria Williams own goal gave the North Londoners a win at the Hive Stadium, whilst Rianna Dean’s second half penalty - after Brighton had been reduced to ten players - was enough to seal all three points in East Sussex.
How to watch
This match will be broadcasted on the FA Player worldwide.