Arsenal kicked off the 2022/23 WSL season in emphatic fashion with a 4-0 victory over 10-player Brighton on Friday evening.
A Beth Mead brace and goals from Kim Little and Stina Blackstenius saw Arsenal to all three points after Emma Kullberg saw red for Brighton.
The Seagulls were up against it from the off when Kullberg was dismissed inside seven minutes after clipping the heels of Stina Blackstenius as the Arsenal forward bore down on goal.
The Gunners made their extra player count and proceeded to dominate in possession and territorially, Caitlin Foord seeing their best sighting of goal after working the opening herself with some fabulous footwork, before dragging wide.
However it was Brighton who came closest to taking the lead after springing a rare counter attack. Lee Geum-Min found Elisabeth Terland at the back post, but the forward flashed narrowly wide.
The Seagulls were made to pay for their miss as Arsenal took the lead just before the half hour mark. The effervescent Foord shrugged off Jorja Fox and picked out Little, who finished emphatically.
The Gunners’ lead could have been even greater at the break were it not for the woodwork and Megan Walsh, Blackstenius cracking the bar and Walsh saving well from Lia Walti before the first half was out.
Katie Robinson was introduced for Brighton at the break, and her impact was almost instant. The midfielder burst into the box after being found by Terland, but her low effort was saved well by Manuela Zinsberger.
But again Brighton were punished after failing to take a rare chance as Blackstenius doubled Arsenal’s lead, superbly finding the top corner from close range after being played in by Mead.
Mead then got on the scoresheet herself as Arsenal added a third. The winger combined well with Vivianne Miedema before arrowing the ball into the bottom corner.
The Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner doubled her tally for the evening as the clock ticked down, selling Walsh and Kayleigh Green with a feint and stroking into an empty net as Arsenal kicked off the 2022/23 campaign in style.
GK: Manuela Zinsberger – 6/10 – Not called into action until early in the second half, where she saved superbly from Robinson to deny Brighton an equaliser.
RB: Laura Wienroither – 7/10 – Preferred to Maritz at right back. Hardly tested defensively and looked a threat in attack with a number of forays forward and dangerous deliveries.
CB: Leah Williamson – 7/10 – Typically calm composed and adventurous in her distribution.
CB: Rafaelle – 7/10 – Back in the starting XI for the first time since injury ended her 2021/22 campaign in March. Brought the ball out from the back confidently and was a real menace from set pieces.
LB: Katie McCabe – 7/10 – Got Blackstenius in behind with a fabulous pass in the build up to Brighton being reduced to 10. Linked up well with Foord, before switching to the right following Catley’s introduction.
CM: Lia Walti – 9/10 – Called Walsh into action with a top corner-bound effort from range in the first half. Showed off her excellent vision with a couple of wonderful, defence splitting passes. Filled in defensively to allow Williamson and Rafaelle to maraud forward.
CM: Kim Little – 8/10 – Opened the scoring in style with a masterfully taken goal, creating the space for herself with a smart first touch and finishing emphatically. Typically outrageously accomplished on the ball.
CM: Vivianne Miedema – 8/10 – Played a particularly beautiful pass to slide in Foord in the first half, linked up with Mead in the build up to Arsenal’s third. In the thick of the action, combined well with the front three all evening.
RW: Beth Mead – 9/10 – Played Blackstenius in for Arsenal’s second and netted a brace herself finding the bottom corner for Arsenal’s third and producing a fabulous feint to stroke into an empty net for her side’s fourth. Combined well with Blackstenius and Miedema all evening.
ST: Stina Blackstenius – 8/10 – Beat the Brighton backline for pace to get in behind in the buildup to Kullberg’s sending off. Cracked the bar from the edge of the area in the first half, before netting Arsenal’s second with an excellent, top corner finish.
LW: Caitlin Foord – 9/10 – Looked in the mood from the off; dragged an effort just wide after some superb footwork, forced a great save from Walsh after wriggling between Lee and Fox, and shrugged off Fox before setting up Little for Arsenal’s opener.
SUB: Steph Catley – 6/10
SUB: Lina Hurtig – 6/10
SUB: Jordan Nobbs -6 /10
SUB: Frida Maanum – 6/10
GK: Megan Walsh – 6/10 – Saved really well from Foord and Walti in the first half, blocking from the former and stretching magnificently to tip the latter’s long range effort over the bar. Pulled off another couple of impressive stops in the first half – the Arsenal scoreline would have been considerably higher were it not for Walsh.
CB: Kayleigh Green – 5/10 – Had a relentless time of it dealing with wave after wave of Arsenal attack. Sold by a Mead feint in the buildup to Arsenal’s fourth.
CB: Victoria Williams – 5/10 – Blocked well from Miedema in the first half but had a tough evening up against Arsenal’s fluid front three when a player down.
CB: Emma Kullberg – 3/10 – Dismissed after seven minutes for clipping the heels of Blackstenius as the Arsenal striker bore down on goal. It appeared accidental, but she was the last player and Blackstenius was clean through. The Arsenal forward however did appear to be a fraction offside.
RWB: Jorja Fox – 4/10 – Given the run around by the lively Foord in the first half, losing out to the Arsenal winger in the build up to the host’s opening goal.
CM: Veatriki Sarri – 5/10 – Showed flashes of skill and quality, but really not her game given how up against it Brighton were.
CM: Libby Bance – 4/10 – Struggled to deal with Arsenal’s fluid midfield three, was replaced at half time.
CM: Julia Zigiotti Olme – 5/10 – Produced a great last ditch block to keep out Miedema in the first half, but limited in her ability to have an attacking impact on the game.
LWB: Poppy Pattinson – 4/10 – Reverted to a left back in a back four following Kullberg’s sending off. Given a tough time of it by Mead – as most left backs will be this season.
CAM: Lee Geum-Min – 6/10 – Carried the ball well and picked out Terland to create Brighton’s only first half opportunity. Looked her side’s most dangerous player.
ST: Elisabeth Terland – 6/10 – Flashed a great opportunity wide for Brighton as the Seagulls almost took a shock lead – their only real sighting of goal in the first half. Played Robinson through in the second half as Brighton came close to equalising.
SUB: Katie Robinson – 5/10 – Looked really lively when she was first introduced, testing Zinsberger and having another promising dart down the right. However, she soon faded as Arsenal exerted their dominance once more.
SUB: Chelsea Ferguson – 5/10