The first half of this match had a consistent pace, good passing, and featured several exciting attacks to keep a football fan entertained throughout. Brighton started the match with a quick foray into Arsenal's final third, but Inessa Kaagman's cross found no teammate and was gobbled up by Arsenal keeper Manuela Zinsberger.
Arsenal turns up the pressure
From that point forward, Arsenal steadily took control of the match. Until the halftime whistle, most of the action took place in Brighton's end. A patient and smart attack from Arsenal forced the Gulls into a defensive mode, focusing on clears and not being able to counter. This well-designed attack of the Gunners yielded corner after corner. Katie McCabe put several of these into the box, but Arsenal was unable to convert. Much of this was due to the tremendous efforts of Victoria Williams, who was a pillar of strength. The Gull's defender cleared no less than five Arsenal corners and was the main reason that Brighton was able to stay in the match.
Arsenal continued their steady attack, and were finally rewarded in the 27th minute. Danielle Van de Donk made a great run into the box and spotted Jordan Nobbs in the middle. The striker took a quick touch and sent her shot past Megan Walsh into the back of the net. Walsh got a piece of the shot, but was unable to fully stop the ball and the Gunners had their lead. The ball seemed to handcuff Brighton's keeper; it was a shot that she typically saves.
Arsenal keeps the pressure on
The Gunners continued the first half with the same calm and collected attack.They earned several more corners, finishing the half with 11. Arsenal sent three more shots Walsh's way, and she stopped them all. The Gunners looked in control of the match, and played with a calm that has not always been there this season. The quick play of the match saw but a single minute of injury time, and the teams headed to the locker room with Arsenal holding the 1-0 lead.
Second half - more action, more Nobbs
The second half saw the Gunners continue with the same calm style that was so successful in the first half. Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead had excellent runs early on; both attempts went wide to keep the scoreline the same. At 53 minutes, Brighton had their best chance. Zinsberger, playing out very high, lost the ball to Emily Simpkins. The Gull's forward sent the ball toward the wide open net. All the Gunners could do was hold their breath as the ball headed toward home, then sigh in relief as it rolled just wide. Zinsberger had another small misadventure in the 58th minute; Kim Little cleaned up the exchange. Zinsberger played solid the rest of the match, as did the entirety of the Gunners' squad.
Arsenal got the breathing room that they needed in the 77th minute. A great long ball out of the back found Miedema streaking down the left side. She crossed over to Mead in the middle, who spotted a wide open Nobbs on the right side of the 6 yard box. Nobbs calmly tapped in her second of the day to give the Gunners the 2-0 lead that they would hold on to for the rest of the match. Brighton had one last chance with a free kick just outside the box at 86 minutes, but Zinsberger coolly collected the attempt from Kaagman.
Player of the Match
With her brace, Nobbs provided Arsenal all the offense they would need. In addition to her goals, the forward was a presence on the frontline throughout the match, pressuring the Brighton defense until the final whistle. Playing as the perfect number 7 today, she controlled the wing all day.
Brighton remains sixth in the table following the loss, three points ahead of Reading. These two teams will face each other next Sunday at Madjeski Stadium. The two teams have sixth and seventh place cemented, it is just a matter of which will end up higher in the table. Brighton has been playing good football as of late, and put forth an excellent effort today. Hope Powell's side has enjoyed their best WSL season ever this campaign, and are certainly on the rise.
Arsenal meanwhile, is playing perhaps their best football of the season. They have not conceded a goal in seven matches in all competitions, and control their own fate as far as the Champion's League goes. The team looks very calm on the pitch, a look that can be attributed greatly to the return of Little and defender Leah Williamson. A fully healthy Arsenal squad is capable of beating any team on the pitch, and showed it today. The Gunners host West Ham at Meadow Park next Sunday. The Irons sit ninth in the table, just two points ahead of Bristol City and Aston Villa in the battle to avoid relegation.