Arsenal 4-0 Brighton: Beth Mead scores twice as Gunners begin WSL season with comfortable win

Beth Mead scored twice as Arsenal began their Women’s Super League campaign with a dominant win against Brighton at a sold-out Meadow Park.

Captain Kim Little and forward Stina Blackstenius struck either side of the break before Mead took the tally up to four.

The Euro 2022 top scorer became the leading goalscorer in WSL opening-day history with two clinical finishes in 21 second-half minutes to seal a confident victory for the Gunners.

Brighton were reduced to 10 players in the seventh minute as Emma Kullberg was sent off for bringing Blackstenius down when the Sweden international was through on goal.

It was the season opener for both sides following the postponement of the first round of WSL fixtures to honour the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Mead’s resumption of her prolific form added incisiveness to an assured performance as Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall targets the title for a side who finished a point behind champions Chelsea in 2021-22.

Much-changed Brighton performed creditably, coming close to an equaliser with the scoreline at 1-0 through fine chances for Elisabeth Terland and Katie Robinson.

Mead
Euro 2022 top scorer Beth Mead struck twice as Arsenal made it nine wins out of nine against Brighton

Prolific Mead continues formidable form

When Euro 2022 player of the tournament Mead strolled over to the right wing in readiness for kick-off, a wry shout of “golden boot” went up.

Earlier in the week Eidevall commented that Mead had shown the same intensity in pre-season as she did in helping England to glory, although it took time to result in goals against a determined Brighton defence.

Mead’s direct running, nimble-footed trickery and impressive reserves of energy – so familiar to England fans – remained a feature as Arsenal probed for the opening goal following Kullberg’s dismissal.

Vivianne Miedema was a persistent threat and Blackstenius cracked a shot against the crossbar not long after Little found the net.

As Brighton understandably grew tired, Arsenal were able to stretch their backline – and Mead duly profited.

The first goal was a clinical strike, the second a measure of Mead’s composure as she fooled her markers and coolly converted.

Miedema is the player whose record Mead has overtaken by scoring seven times on the opening day. Arsenal’s title credentials may depend upon the pair’s ruthlessness at the goalmouth.

Fans

Fans thrilled to see stars again

The postponement of the first round of WSL fixtures last weekend meant several teams did not begin their seasons in huge stadiums.

Arsenal are set to be part of a record-breaking north London derby attendance for a women’s game when they host Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on 24 September, but the 3,238 fans in the more modest Meadow Park provided a passionate atmosphere for their first home match of the campaign.

Supporters were waiting outside the gates before they opened and a club shop to the corner of the North Bank – a name synonymous with Arsenal thanks to the famous old stand at their former home of Highbury – attracted a queue throughout the build-up.

It wasn’t long before chants of “Meado” and “Mead will tear you apart” went up, ringing out after shirts bearing her name had traded briskly from behind the counter.

This was an occasion that would have felt very different for Mead and her fellow Lionesses to the packed Wembley where they had played their glorious previous competitive match.

The adoration they absorbed was just as devoted, though – as was the renewed buoyancy of the women’s game following an unforgettable summer.

Line-ups

Arsenal Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Zinsberger
  • 26Wienroither
  • 6WilliamsonSubstituted forWubben-Moyat 83′minutes
  • 2Carvalho Souza
  • 15McCabe
  • 13WältiSubstituted forMaanumat 77′minutes
  • 10Little
  • 9Mead
  • 11MiedemaSubstituted forNobbsat 77′minutes
  • 19FoordBooked at 59minsSubstituted forCatleyat 64′minutes
  • 25BlacksteniusSubstituted forHurtigat 64′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Wubben-Moy
  • 5Beattie
  • 7Catley
  • 8Nobbs
  • 12Maanum
  • 16Maritz
  • 17Hurtig
  • 18Marckese
  • 23Iwabuchi

Brighton Women

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Walsh
  • 2Fox
  • 20Williams
  • 16KullbergBooked at 7mins
  • 3Pattinson
  • 12BanceSubstituted forRobinsonat 45′minutes
  • 10OlmeSubstituted forFergusonat 86′minutes
  • 9Lee
  • 7Sarri
  • 11Terland
  • 15Green

Substitutes

  • 14Park
  • 22Robinson
  • 23Jarvis
  • 24Ferguson
  • 40Startup

Referee:
Lisa Benn

Attendance:
3,238

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