Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis

Arsenal Women kept their 100% start to this FAWSL season going with a 4-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion Women.

Arsenal Women went behind early on but goals from Vivianne Miedema, Dominique Bloodworth, Danielle van de Donk and Beth Mead ensured the gap between them and Manchester City Women stayed at six points.

Although Arsenal have won all their league games, there is one growing concern. Injuries. That heightened last week as Jordan Nobbs picked up an ACL injury. So in this tactical analysis, I’ll look at how Arsenal fared without her and how they combated Brighton.

Brighton’s Game

Despite being underdogs, Brighton were the ones to open the scoring. This was through Ini-Abasi Umotong who was the beneficiary of a ball in behind the defence as we can see below:

Although Arsenal’s pressing game this season has been impressive, it has been played through at times. This was the case again in the build-up to Umotong’s goal.

Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Arsenal’s players initially take up good positions to close passing lanes. However, Beth Mead doesn’t follow the run which sets the Brighton player free.

As the game grew, however, Brighton struggled to get similar service into Umotong. This made it difficult for them to build sustainable attacks against an in-form Arsenal. At some points, this could’ve been solved with better decision making.

Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Here, Brighton win the ball on the edge of their area. Rather than immediately looking for Umotong, a short pass could’ve been played inside to help them keep the ball for longer as they push forward.
Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Instead, the ball was drilled up the pitch where Arsenal were able to sweep up.

This was a trend in the game that in-turn gifted Arsenal the ball many times. This was reflected as Joe Montemurro’s side ended up with 65% of possession.

Dominique Bloodworth Back In Midfield

As aforementioned, the loss of Nobbs was a big talking point. Replacing her in the midfield three was Dominique Bloodworth. She’s no stranger to the midfield having played there for most of last season. However, this season she has been used mostly in defence, whether that’s at right or centre back.

As usual, Bloodworth kept hold of the ball and moved it on well. The encouraging signs though were that, like Nobbs who she was replacing, she was happy to get forward off the ball. As highlighted against Everton, runners from midfield have made a huge difference for Arsenal. Here’s how Bloodworth did in that aspect of the game:

Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
As van de Donk receives the ball on the half-turn, Bloodworth does well to notice the space behind the Brighton midfield and attack it.
Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Bloodworth takes up that space well. But unfortunately, van de Donk’s pass was slightly under-hit and intercepted.

Bloodworth’s off the ball movement was effective on the day though. We can see from the goal that she scored to put Arsenal ahead:

So, back in midfield, Dominique Bloodworth had a very sound display. What she brought in defence was also valuable and will probably be shown more next week against City.

Defending On The Front Foot

Once Arsenal had taken the lead, one thing they did well was close off the game. Defending at a high intensity, all over the pitch, this saw Brighton struggle to get themselves back into the match.

Here’s how they that worked in comparison to the first-half.

Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Rather than letting Brighton make ground, Arsenal’s defence chose to win the ball back higher up the pitch. Here we see Louise Quinn challenge Umotong on her first touch.
Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Quinn comes out with the ball and recycles passes to her centre-back partner Leah Williamson.

What ensured this worked was that this style was executed in all thirds of the pitch. In the second-half, Arsenal press improved and the midfield were more in sync. Lia Walti, who has had an impressive start to her Arsenal career continued that at the base of midfield and in this particular aspect of the game.

Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
The ball is played in behind the Arsenal midfield. Umotong then drops into the space to receive the ball but Walti and Williamson are applying pressure.
Arsenal Women 4-1 Brighton & Hove Albion Women Dominique Bloodworth FAWSL Tactical Analysis
Walti does well to get her foot in and win the ball. Now with van de Donk in possession, she’s able to burst forward into space.

This phase of play was incredibly important as it caught Brighton out at the worst time. In the middle of an attack, they had players streaming forward and here’s how van de Donk and Mead exploited the space left behind:

Summary

Against Brighton, Arsenal may have had a rocky start but they regained control of the game well. What was clear is that the rhythm and momentum they find themselves will be massively important next weekend.

Having beaten Yeovil Town Ladies 4-0, Manchester City will be confident that they will hand Arsenal their first loss of the season. However, we’ve seen throughout this season that Arsenal as well as blowing teams away, can grind out results and score numerous goals on any given day.

But that shouldn’t mean Arsenal fans go into next week expecting a win. It’ll be the biggest test of the season so far but one that should be a great watch.


If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the new magazine from totalfootballanalysis.com – 118 pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Get your copy today for just £4.99 here!