Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal side headed south on Wednesday, as the Gunners travelled to the Broadfield Stadium. There, they’d face Melissa Phillips’ Brighton – who picked up a crucial win against West Ham on the weekend. If the Seagulls could manage another win, they’d secure their top-flight status for another season.
The game was set to have huge implications at the other end of the table too though, with the Gunners vying to capitalise on Manchester City’s loss to Liverpool. Jonas Eidevall’s side has been plagued by injury as of late, but they remain in contention for a spot in next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League. Should they qualify, they’ll play all of their games from the group stage onwards at the Emirates Stadium – in addition to five Women’s Super League fixtures.
BHA: Walsh; Pattinson, Bergsvand, Morse, Kullberg; Olme, Stefanovic; Green, Terland, Robinson; Lee
ARS: Zinsberger; Rafaelle, Beattie, Wubben-Moy; McCabe, Taylor; Maanum, Maritz; Kuhl, Pelova; Blackstenius
Arsenal didn’t have to wait long to find the back of the net, as Stina Blackstenius fired them into the lead with just six minutes on the clock. Katie McCabe found the Swedish forward on the left flank, and the striker surged forward before jinking inside of her defender and curling a strike around Megan Walsh.
Blackstenius bagged her second less than three minutes later, as sloppy Brighton passing allowed the forward to win possession. She dribbled towards the defence, waiting for a gap to open up before passing into the bottom right corner for her fifth goal in her last three league appearances.
Blackstenius had the ball in the back of the net for the third time just moments later, after a long ball over the top appeared to send her through the Brighton defence – but the flag was raised for a very tight offside. It was a well-worked goal as she danced past the ‘keeper, and a hat-trick seemed inevitable.
A misplaced pass from Lotte Wubben-Moy could have been punished, but the Brighton midfield couldn’t quite pick out Elisabeth Terland – and the Gunners got away with their mistake.
Desperate to complete her hat-trick, Stina Blackstenius struck the crossbar with a tight-angled strike from the left of the box. The striker came close once more, firing an effort into the side netting moments later.
The Gunners found their third in the 39th minute, as Noelle Maritz fired a ball into the box from the right side of the area. Frida Maanum rose highest to nod it home, and Jonas Eidevall’s side seemed to be strolling to a rather easy three points.
Poppy Pattinson did well to put the ball out for a throw-in, as a long diagonal ball looked to play in Maritz on the right wing once more. A free-kick was whipped in from the by-line soon after, but Katie McCabe’s delivery was nodded wide by Lotte Wubben-Moy at the back post.
Not content to settle with a three-goal lead, Victoria Pelota bagged Arsenal’s fourth just before the break – squeezing the ball between the post and the outstretched arm of Megan Walsh. Stina Blackstenius may feel a little hard done by as she was unmarked in the centre of the box, but the young Dutch forward was never going to turn down the opportunity to bag her first WSL goal.
Having been introduced as a half-time substitute, Gio Queiroz found herself through on goal within five minutes – but the Brazilian dragged her effort wide of the far post. To her relief, the flag was promptly raised for offside.
Queiroz looked to fire an acrobatic effort towards goal after picking up the pieces from Jodie Taylor’s blocked shot, though the Brazilian’s dipping strike was held well by Walsh. Goal difference could well define the table at the end of the season – and with this in mind, the Gunners certainly weren’t easing the pressure.
Walsh was put to work once more, as Stina Blackstenius was played through to complete her hat-trick. The Swedish striker was forced wide though, and the tight angle worked against her – allowing the Brighton ‘keeper to make the save.
Brighton had to wait until the 63rd minute for their first shot on target, as Kayleigh Green forced a fine save from Manuela Zinsberger. That chance seemed to get the creative juices flowing for the Seagulls, who created another chance seconds later – but Jen Beattie was there to make the block at the second time of asking.
Arsenal should have made it five in the 67th minute, as Jodie Taylor played in Kathrine Kuhl – but the unmarked Dane’s strike was saved well by Megan Walsh.
Arsenal’s injury list appeared to grow longer, as Gio Queiroz was forced off within the final twenty minutes. Having been played through on goal, the Brazilian appeared to tweak her hamstring – she was able to walk off the pitch, though Caitlin Foord replaced her.
Libby Bance came close to clawing a goal back for Brighton, but great defending from Lotte Wubben-Moy saw the ball deflected behind for a corner – which the Seagulls failed to do anything productive with.
Perhaps cruelly, Stina Blackstenius was taken off five minutes before full-time – and her hat-trick would have to wait. After such a one-sided first half, the second half had played out in a much more subdued manner, but Jonas Eidevall’s side won’t care all too much as they picked up a vital three points.