Arsenal continue relentless pace at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League by beating Brighton

Danielle Van De Donk  (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
Danielle Van De Donk (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Arsenal continued their relentless pace at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League by beating Brighton 4-0, keeping them three points clear of Manchester City.

A fine finish from Danielle van de Donk got the reigning champions up and running in just the third minute, before Jill Roord added a second just past the half hour mark, which effectively killed the contest.

The tireless Jordan Nobbs added the finishing touch to a flowing move early in the second half for a third, before substitute Beth Mead rounded the day off with a fourth late on.

Hope Powell’s Brighton side struggled for large parts to impose themselves on the game but epitomised by Aileen Whelan and Lea Le Garrec, the hosts ran themselves to a standstill.

Dutch international van de Donk’s opener was the perfect start for Arsenal, the winger taking a pinpoint diagonal pass from Leah Williamson to race past Kirsty Barton before beating Megan Walsh at her near post.

The excellent Williamson was soon to turn provider again, finding Roord on the edge of the penalty box and with ample space. The invitation to shoot was never going to be passed up, Roord finishing expertly into the corner.

Brighton enjoyed their best spell at the end of the half, Whelan forcing Manuela Zinsberger to tip the ball beyond the post from a whipped delivery, before Emily Simpkins hit one just wide when she should have done better.

Viktoria Schnaderbeck and van de Donk then combined to open up the Brighton defence in two passes, the on-rushing Nobbs sliding it past Walsh to cap a thoroughly industrious performance at the heart of a confident Arsenal outfit.

Mead added a fourth in the closing minutes after Leonie Maier forced Walsh into a mistake, the substitute lashing into an empty net to cap yet another excellent day for Joe Montemurro’s charges.

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Brighton midfielder Emily Simpkins said: “We’re obviously disappointed to lose the game, but we showed plenty of desire and togetherness. But, if you switch off at this level, you get punished, it’s simple as that.

“I would say that if you look at all four goals, there’s more we can do. We’ve seen first-hand today that if you make even a slight error, or aren’t mentally there, teams like Arsenal will take full advantage.

“What I would say is that we’ve tried to implement our game plan today and stick to what we wanted to do. I’m proud of the team for showing the character to do that, but quality players and teams will hurt you if you aren’t at 100%.

“As you’ll see if you look back at the video from the Liverpool game, that win meant so much so it’s a frustrating now to not be able to back it up.

“But, there’s another game right around the corner, against Manchester United in the cup, so we’ll flip it this one over and go into it with excitement, which is what knock-out football is all about.”

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro said: “I was very pleased with the maturity of the team, and they’ve come a long way. There’s a lot of football to play this week, so it was good to get the job done.

“It was so important to get an early goal and then once we did we settled and then got that second. It was then a case of managing the game and we did, and that allowed us to conserve energy and work with the ball.

“We need to keep growing now, getting better and pushing on. There’s no way anybody can start thinking or mentioning the title, because there’s still a long, long way to go.

“The other good news is we’ve managed to get some minutes into the legs of certain players, and tailor their workload which is going to be really important as we get busier.

“Jordan Nobbs was very good and she knows there are things in her game which need work, but I think you’ll see a player whose impact and decision-making will only get better as the season goes on.

“Two big things for us are planning and preparation and you saw the end outcome of doing those things well today, and we’ll do exactly the same now for Wednesday and Reading in the Conti Cup.”

Brighton and Hove Albion (4-5-1): Megan Walsh; Fliss Gibbons, Victoria Williams, Danique Kerkdijk, Kirsty Barton; Amanda Nilden, Dani Bowman (c), Emily Simpkins, Lea Le Garrec, Aileen Whelan; Kayleigh Green

Substitutes: Katie Natkiel for Nilden 45, Megan Connolly for Simpkins 66, Ini Umotong for Le Garrec 79

Substitutes not used: Sophie Harris, Beth Roe, Matilde Lundorf, Ellie Hack

Arsenal (3-1-4-2): Manuela Zinsberger; Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Louise Quinn, Leah Williamson; Lia Walti; Danielle van de Donk, Jill Roord, Kim Little, Lisa Evans, Vivianne Miedema, Jordan Nobbs

Substitutes: Beth Mead for Little 66, Katie McCabe for Nobbs 76, Leonie Maier for Williamson 76

Substitutes not used: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Ruby Grant, Melisa Filis

Goals: van de Donk 3, Roord 31, Nobbs 51, Mead 89

Bookings: Roord 43

Referee: Kirsty Dowle

Attendance: 1,312