The wait for the 2022/23 Women's Super League season is finally over.
After a bumper summer of international football, both here in England and across the Atlantic, our Gunners are back in action to vie for the league title and disrupt Chelsea's three-year hold on the trophy.
After our scheduled first match against Manchester City was postponed last weekend due to Her Majesty The Queen's passing, we now kick off our WSL campaign against Brighton & Hove Albion on the opening night of the season.
With England legend Hope Powell now in her fifth year managing the Seagulls, the side head to Meadow Park looking to beat us for the first time ever in the Women's Super League. Our Gunners, meanwhile, will be aiming to mirror our club's incredible form in the Premier League and Premier League 2, by getting off to a winning start.
Brighton's 2021/22 season
Powell's Brighton side started last season well with two straight wins against West Ham and Birmingham City. But they fared less in December and January, where they registered only a single point in their WSL fixtures with a draw at home to eventual champions, Chelsea.
Despite heavy losses to Manchester City in both legs, the Seagulls finished the 2021/22 season in 7th place, just one point behind West Ham in 6th. They'll be looking to improve their position in the WSL this year and had a promising pre-season, which included a 1-0 win against Bayern Munich.
Last time around
We faced the Seagulls three times last season in all competitions and beat them on each occasion. Two goals from Stina Blackstenius and one from Beth Mead secured us a 3-0 win away from home in our most recent WSL encounter. Mead was also on the scoresheet for our home WSL fixture, where we came back from behind to win 2-1.
Most recently, we defeated them in a pre-season friendly at London Colney last month. Caitlin Foord bagged two goals as we ended with a comfortable 2-1 win.
Brighton's current squad
The Brighton squad experienced particularly high levels of turnover during the summer, with key players such as Finnish international Emma Koivisto and promising young defender Maya Le Tissier leaving for Manchester City and Manchester United respectively. Inessa Kaagman, who was their joint top goal scorer last season, returned to her native Netherlands to join PSV Vrouwen.
Aileen Whelan, Fliss Gibbons, Dani Bowman, Emily Simpkins, Ellie Brazil and Danique Kerkdijk also left the club at the conclusion of their contracts. In terms of fresh blood, the Seagulls have brought in Norwegian striker Elizabeth Terland, rising South Korean star Yeeun Park, as well as Jorja Fox on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
Our team news
Boss Jonas Eidevall confirmed that Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley have trained and are fit for selection on Friday. Our Australian duo picked up slight knocks during their September international fixtures.
Teyah Goldie continues to recover from the ACL injury she sustained in March but no other squad injuries have been reported.
What the managers say
Eidevall on Brighton: "I've been very impressed by Brighton during the pre-season because I also saw that they had a huge turnover. I've seen them play against Bayern Munich, Manchester City and us, and they looked like a good team in those games. Some of the players they got in over this window are really high quality, so we are expecting and preparing for a competitive game here on Friday." - Read every word from Eidevall's press conference here
Powell on us: “It’s a sellout, I believe, which is good for the women’s game and good for us. I think the expectation would be for Arsenal to win the game – we’re under no illusions there – but we’re not going to give it to them. We’re going to make it very difficult and the plan is to get something out of the game as we do every game. A Friday night under the lights suits me perfectly.”
Facts and stats
In our last ten meetings with Brighton, we have won nine and drawn just one. Our biggest scoreline came in October 2020, when we put five past the Brighton keeper without reply. Vivianne Miedema scored a brace that day, with goals from Danielle van de Donk, Jen Beattie and Lotte Wubben-Moy rounding out the win.
In fact, Miedema has been especially prolific against the Seagulls in previous fixtures, netting six goals and six assists in just eight encounters.
We have been unbeaten in the Women's Super League since January 9. In his first season with us, Jonas Eidevall registered a 74 per cent win rate across all competitions.