How Arsenal's midfield three were the rock in their win against Brighton

Leah Williamson played a starring role against Brighton (PA Images)
Leah Williamson played a starring role against Brighton (PA Images)
22:46pm, Mon 30 Sep 2019
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Thirteen shots in the whole game meant it was Arsenal's lowest number of attempts on goal in a Women's Super League match this season.

But they were totally dominant and in breathtaking form at times during their match against Brighton.

The 4-0 victory ensured they kept their 100 per cent record for the season in all competitions and with bigger tests to come in the form of Chelsea and Manchester City over the next two match days they cannot be better prepared.

Here, we look at how the midfield's fluidity caused havoc for Brighton's defence, how Leah Williamson and Jennifer Beattie controlled the tempo and how the defence has remained solid from last season.

Interchange between midfield three causes havoc

At the beginning of the season Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro talked about what made his side so successful last year, as they won the league for the first time in seven years.

He said: "It is difficult to track runners from deep and differing midfield combinations so we don't play with two sixes who just sit. We rotate and our number 10s play as eights - it's quite fluid."

Against Brighton, captain Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs and Danielle van de Donk began in the midfield three and almost from the outset signalled their intentions to go in between the lines.

As can be seen below, Beattie has a number of options when she is deep in the Brighton half. She could send a pass out wide to defender Leonie Maier but she chooses to play an incisive pass to van de Donk.

Jennifer Beattie had a number of options when looking to pass in the Brighton half (FA Player)

This then opened up the opportunity for players like Nobbs and striker Vivianne Miedema to move around and make it difficult for Brighton's defenders to mark them.

This happened a number of times during the match and was pivotal in Arsenal creating a number of chances and scoring four goals in the end.

Williamson and Beattie - masters of midfield

Williamson has played the past few matches as a defensive midfielder and once again impressed against Brighton. A key aspect of the performance was her and Beattie's ability to control the midfield and start attacks for Arsenal.

As can be seen below, Beattie is being given a lot of space by Brighton and time to make a decision on where to move the ball to next. She takes her time before deciding to spread the play out wide on the left.

Brighton's lack of a press allowed Arsenal huge spaces and time in the match (FA Player)

While this attack did not amount to anything, it was an example of how Brighton failed to close the gaps and allowed Arsenal so much time and space to make threatening moves.

Later on in the game, even Nobbs dropped back a number of times because the two banks of four from Brighton were so deep and through some trickery and composure from a selection of Arsenal players, they were able to find a way through.

Defence remained firm when it needed to

In a game of such domination it would be easy to think Brighton had next to nothing when it came to chances of their own. But as they showed last season, Arsenal had the ability to remain firm when they were being attacked.

The chance below came through a mistake of their own. A misplaced pass allowed Aileen Whelan a chance to have a shot on Arsenal's goal but she was masterfully moved to the right by Arsenal's defenders.

Arsenal's defence looked stretched here, but they pushed Whelan to the right quickly (FA Player)

The defenders were also helped by Williamson and Beattie at times when they were overrun, but Arsenal kept their concentration well when they needed to and kept the visitors from having any chances of real substance.

So Arsenal maintained their perfect record and look in prime position for success again this season, especially thanks to their midfield three's brilliance.

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