Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics

Arsenal Women secured their first FAWSL title since 2012 with a 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion Women on Sunday.

The victory was their 17th from 19 league games in a season where they have done incredibly well to come out on top.

Familiar names were on the scoresheet at the Amex Stadium as PFA Women’s Player of the Year, Vivianne Miedema blasted the first home, with Katie McCabe, Beth Mead and Danielle Van de Donk adding the rest.

This tactical analysis will examine how Arsenal Women’s performance allowed them to clinch yet another title. Like last week against Everton, they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.

Arsenal Women’s electric start

Seven minutes in and Joe Montemurro’s side were already ahead. There was no surprise that this was down to Miedema, who has stolen most of the headlines this season.

She struck again, crashing home her 31st goal in all competitions and 22nd in the FAWSL.

However, with Brighton going into the game wary of the threat she poses, this showed just how potent the Dutch forward is.

Stealing the ball on the edge of the box, she was in no mood to mess about and got the party started in stunning fashion:

However, although the strike was magnificent, it’s important to note where it was taken. In between the defensive and midfield lines. As Brighton looked to close off space for her to exploit in the box, Miedema found herself working outside the box more often.

Her ability to adapt to her surroundings is something that has gone under the radar this season.

Breaking down Brighton Women’s stubborn defence

Speaking to Montemurro after Sunday’s game, he admitted Miedema’s creative play is something that gets overlooked, saying:

“I understand people usually watch the ball and who scores but every once in a while, take your eye off the ball and watch the movements she makes.
“She’s an intelligent player and creates space for others. Her movement may drag a defender away to do so.
“Katie McCabe’s goal was all Miedema. We worked on it in the week, she pulled someone away and Katie’s gone in with a deep run and scored.”

This is something I have touched on in previous analysis pieces and was on show again on Sunday.

Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Miedema drops away from the deep Brighton defence into acres of space as she receives the ball.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
This leaves the Brighton defence rushing forward to close her down. However, that creates the space for McCabe to run into.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Miedema finds her expertly and McCabe lifts the ball into the far corner. A goal that looks simple but is down to great preparation.

However, it’s also key spot the role played by Arsenal’s midfield too. Since Jordan Nobbs’ injury, Kim Little and Danielle Van de Donk have been the side’s main attacking threats from midfield.

Making runs from deep, they have been able to support Miedema well inside the box this season. That worked out well with Little scoring 10 WSL goals and Van de Donk 11 so far this season.

However, on Sunday, what they did outside the box leading to McCabe’s goal was disciplined and effective.

Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
This is 30 seconds before McCabe’s goal was scored. Van de Donk and Little, central midfielders, are occupying the left wing. This brings Brighton’s defence out in order to close them down, creating space inside.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Miedema has dropped off as McCabe enters the space that is opening up. This time, however, the move doesn’t work. This is because left back Katrine Veje held her position. She wasn’t able to take defenders away from the channel where Little could pass to Miedema.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
For the goal, however, she does make a run deep into Brighton’s final third. With this, she takes a defender away, creating space for Miedema to capitalise on.

Brighton & Hove Albion Women come back swinging

Arsenal went into the break 2-0 up but only last week, they were in the same position and let Everton back into the game.

Knowing this, Hope Powell brought Ellie Brazil on for Brighton and the difference was apparent instantly.

In the first half, Brighton were content with sitting off Arsenal, allowing them to sustain lengthy spells of possession. In the second half, however, Brazil made them more urgent off the ball.

Brighton looked to win the ball higher upfield and she was a big part of that.

Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Brazil set the tone early and is the highest and most central player in this shot. When she presses, so does the right winger when the ball is moved to Veje. This forces Arsenal to go backwards.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Van de Donk then tries to drop deep to help build the play but Brazil is at her heels. Also note how Brighton’s entire midfield is ahead of Arsenal’s cutting off passing lanes on the ground.

That also meant that when Brighton looked to attack, they had more bodies forward than in the first half.

This was the case and Powell’s side began creating better chances and looked more confident.

Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Whelan is coming off her wing and preoccupying Arsenal players. This creates space for her teammates on the far side so she spreads the play and makes a run into the box.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Brighton now have three players in the box, a rarity in the first half. With three targets, the cross is whipped in with a decent chance of being successful.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Whelan does incredibly well to win the ball in the air, knocking it down to Brazil. However, she couldn’t get the shot on target.

Arsenal Women put matters to bed

Brighton had only scored 12 goals all season, however, and that lack of attacking firepower came back to haunt them as the game grew on.

They continued to chase the game, committing players forward. Seeing this, Arsenal’s midfielders became more narrow when out of possession. This left Brighton’s players more isolated when venturing forward and made it easier for Arsenal to pick them off.

Eventually, this led to Mead’s goal which similar to Miedema’s, was outstanding.

Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Brighton’s left back, Gibbons is advancing at pace but doesn’t have much support. She decides to go it alone inside but is caught by Arsenal’s midfield.
Brighton & Hove Albion Arsenal Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Outnumbering Brighton, the central players connect intricately before quickly freeing Mead down the left.

The rest was all down to her:

Van de Donk then added her goal immediately after as Arsenal were able to take advantage of the spacious Amex pitch yet again.

Although Arsenal were dominant in the game, Brighton didn’t make it easy for them. They showed Montemurro’s side different sides to their play in different parts of the game and Arsenal did extremely well in identifying those patterns and exploiting them.

Summary

That has been a characteristic Arsenal have carried throughout the season and something that is very much in line with Montemurro’s footballing philosophy which he touched on after the game.

He said: “The biggest word I use is adaptability which has been seen from the day I came in. We’ve turned wingers into full backs and centre backs into holding midfielders.
“That’s my methodology, it’s about movement, positioning, creating passing lanes and how we move forward which is the way we play.
“Once you have that fluidity and everyone knows their roles, you can plan for every game so the players that need to step up can do well.”

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