Arsenal 4-0 Brighton: Beth Mead’s brace guides Gunners to easy win in Women’s Super League opener

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Arsenal 4-0 Brighton: Lionesses hero Beth Mead nets brace as the Gunners DOMINATE to open new Women’s Super League season… as visitors struggle badly after Emma Kullberg’s early dismissal

  • Arsenal were comfortable winners in the opening match of the new WSL season 
  • Beth Mead scored twice in the second half as the Gunners saw off Brighton
  • Emma Kullberg was sent off within ten minutes for Hope Powell’s Seagulls
  • Kim Little and Stina Blackstenius were also on target for Jonas Eidevall’s side

Lift off for Arsenal, for England hero Beth Mead, and for a Women’s Super League season that promises to be unlike anything this country has seen.

National mourning meant a false start to this campaign – last week’s curtain raiser was postponed – but there was no stuttering from Arsenal at a sold-out Meadow Park last night. They ran out comfortable winners over Brighton, with Mead picking up where she left off after the Lionesses’ glorious summer. She netted Arsenal’s third and their fourth, adding to goals from Kim Little and Stina Blackstenius.

At the other end, there was little to trouble Leah Williamson, who captained England to Euro 2022 glory, and the rest of the Arsenal back four. Not after Emma Kullberg was sent off early for Brighton.

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Beth Mead scored a brace as Arsenal ran out comfortable winners in the WSL’s delayed opener

MATCH FACTS

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Zinsberger, Wienroiter, Williamson (Wubben-Moy 83), Souza, McCabe, Walti (Maanum 77), Little, Mead, Miedema (Nobbs 77), Foord (Catley 64), Blackstenius (Hurtig 64)

Substitutes not used:  Beattie, Maritz, Marckese, Iwabuchi

Manager: Jonas Eidevall

Scorers: Little 28, Blackstenius 50, Mead 63, 83

Booked: None

Brighton (4-4-2): Walsh, Fox, Williams, Kullberg, Pattinson, Bance (Robinson 46), Zigiotti Olme (Ferguson 86), Lee, Sarri, Terland, Green

Substitutes not used: Park, Startup, Jarvis

Manager: Hope Powell

Scorers:  None

Booked: None

Sent off: Kullberg 7

Referee: Lisa Benn

So tougher tests await Jonas Eidevall’s side, who were pipped to the title by a single point by Chelsea last season.

Bigger crowds, too. Arsenal are set to smash the WSL attendance record in next week’s north London derby, having sold more than 45,000 tickets.

They are not alone – every club has seen a spike in support following England’s glorious run to Wembley, when Mead won Player of the Tournament and the Golden boot.

After all of the noise and colour and ecstasy of last summer, though, 3,238 supporters fell silent. Before kick-off, a minute to remember. Then the national anthem. And then some football and some normality at last.

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Arsenal have never failed to beat Brighton in the WSL and it wasn’t long before regular service resumed last night.

After just seven minutes, Blackstenius latched on to an through-ball and was about to pull the trigger when her ankle was clipped by Kullberg. Arsenal demanded a penalty, referee Lisa Benn rightly gave a free kick; the foul had occurred inches outside the area.

A red card followed and Kullberg could have few complaints. Except perhaps one: replays suggested Blackstenius had strayed offside in the build-up.

Down to 10, Brighton were in survival mode already. From there, Arsenal launched wave after wave of attack. Until Little’s opener on 28 minutes, however, few clear-cut chances arrived.

Caitlin Foord had the clearest of them, dragging a shot wide, and the cruel irony is that Arsenal’s breakthrough came shortly after Brighton’s first real foray forward.

Kim Little scored the opening goal as Arsenal put away Brighton in the opening WSL match

Kim Little scored the opening goal as Arsenal put away Brighton in the opening WSL match

On a rare break, the ball ran all the way across to Elisabeth Terland. Unfortunately for Hope Powell’s side, her effort flew wide. Two minutes later, captain Little collected Foord’s cutback before firing a powerful finish towards the bottom corner.

Somehow it stayed 1-0 until the break. Despite Blackstenius hitting the bar.. Despite Lia Walti forcing Megan Walsh into a fine save and despite Arsenal creating a hatful of other openings.

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Cruelly for Brighton, the same pattern repeated itself early in the second half. Another counter ended with another squandered opportunity – this time Katie Robinson’s shot was well saved by Manuela Zinsberger. And then moments later, Arsenal made the visitors pay once more, Mead finding Blackstenius who finished emphatically.

From there, it was a case of how many. Mead combined with partner Vivianne Miedema to make it three. Her second, Arsenal’s fourth, arrived seven minutes from time after a neat dummy. It could, and probably should, have been even more.

Emma Kullberg was dismissed in the opening ten minutes of Brighton's away defeat on Friday

Emma Kullberg was dismissed in the opening ten minutes of Brighton’s away defeat on Friday

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