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The Arsenal Women Journal – A win, at last! Arsenal find their mojo in second half against Brighton

Celebrate

We did it! We got our first win of the year!
It feels good, doesn’t it?

We had to fight to get it but it was thoroughly deserved, especially after the break; it’s unknown whether the players were inspired by Tobin Heath’s pep talk in the dressing room or scared to death by the idea of facing Katie McCabe’s wrath at full time after another disappointing result (Just kidding! Am I, though?) but there was a big reaction after the break and it paid off.

We started well but as soon as Brighton took the lead, it looked like Birmingham all over again: the players were visibly low on confidence, a bit anxious and started to make bad decisions, resulting in our patterns losing shape and fluidity. The more we were closing in on half-time, the more players tended to rush their passes or mistime their runs, making it very difficult to build any proper chance.

Things changed dramatically in the second half, almost as someone made an inspiring team talk à la Tony D’Amato, because the players started to show more aggressiveness and assertiveness, to quote Jonas Eidevall referring to Beth Mead, one of the instigators of our comeback.
There was more than just drive and desire into our second-half display, though: the players showed more urgency when in possession, especially in midfield where the ball started to move at a higher tempo, and the positioning of Vivianne Miedema, Tobin Heath and Jordan Nobbs was tweaked to allow the overload on the left flank.

Leah Williamson accuracy and pace in switching the play from right to left was instrumental in enabling Tobin Heath and Jordan Nobbs to go two-v-two or even two-v-one on the left half-space, while the sustained pressure from our front line and midfield allowed Vivianne Miedema to play closer to the box and more centrally, compare to her last outings.

These two changes, paired with a greater intensity from the front line to put pressure on Brighton in their defensive third, meant that we completely shut down the visitors and applied sustained pressure in their half throughout the second half, until Brighton eventually broke down.

Passion

A tap-in from Vivianne Miedema following a in-swinging delivery from Beth Mead and a stunning free-kick from the former Sunderland striker were enough to secure the three points and get back to winning ways, which meant we could keep the four-points gap with Chelsea intact. Emma Hayes’ Blues still have a game on hand but we remain safe at the top of the table and the upcoming games against Manchester United and Chelsea now look more vital for them than for us.
Pressure will be on Chelsea to win their home game against us to stay in the race, while we will have a great chance to keep them at bay or, even better, open a wider gap with the rest of the pack.

This win might just be the confidence boost this team seemed to need, judging by the reaction of some players after the final whistle. I do hope that getting these three points in the bag will calm the players’ nerves and allow them to express themselves more freely. A burden has been shifted, the recovery process is well underway.

Next up is the FA Cup though, with the London City Lionesses coming to Meadow Park on Sunday. The disappointment of last season’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea is still fresh, here comes a chance to start new and make another attempt at winning the trophy for the 15th time. Jonas Eidevall might have some issues to put out a competitive team as Fran Stenson, Jen Beattie and Stina Blackstenius, among others, sat out of yesterday’s game against Brighton with illness. We don’t know whether or not it was Covid, we will know more in the coming days.

I’ll be there with the new feature on Monday, be on time. Until then, take care Gooners!

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