Tag Archives: Brighton

WSL Matchday 6 Report – Arsenal still flying, Reading dominant whilst United hit a block

We are already into match day six of the 2021/22 Women’s Super League season and so far, other than the injury-stricken start to the season that Manchester City are having, we are yet to see many upsets to the other components of the ‘Big Three’.

Whilst City have dropped numerous points to opposition that they previously would have comfortably beaten, Arsenal have been completely dominant – yet to drop a single point in the WSL so far, and only conceding two goals in the first game of the season against reigning champions Chelsea.

Meanwhile Tottenham, who in the previous season found themselves in a relegation battle, have enjoyed a great start with four wins out of the first five games.

Week six brought us some matchups that saw teams that we could expect to finish in and around that fourth spot – with Manchester United taking on Spurs while Everton and Brighton faced off. Here’s what happened.



Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

Ever the embodiment of a Carla Ward side, Aston Villa presented a difficult entity for Chelsea to breakdown.

As expected Chelsea absolutely dominated the ball, having 76 percent possession and boasting 16 shots in the game, despite Emma Hayes heavily rotating her starting lineup.

Within this, a rare start for the talented Canadian starlet Jessie Fleming – who went on to score the eventual winner; scoring a neat and composed finish following a great pick out from Ji.

The defensive set-up from Villa definitely did its job in frustrating Chelsea, but the quality that they possess – even when they rotate – is clear to see.

Everton 0-1 Brighton

Following the managerial change that happened at Everton after the sacking of Willie Kirk, I was interested to see how they’d look against a well drilled side in Brighton who like Tottenham, have enjoyed a good start to this new season.

New Everton manager Jean-Luc Vasseur attempted to provide some stability to his new squad by keeping the same starting XI as the midweek cup match, and someone who benefited from this was Kenza Dali, who again looked like a bright spot in the Everton team.

Despite this, it was Brighton that were able to score the winner in the second half, after Danielle Carter played in Aileen Whelan – a win that puts them fourth in the table as it stands.

Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United

As a United fan assessing the opposition before the game, I was aware that Tottenham were going to be narrow and compact – a problem that Manchester United boss Marc Skinner also alluded to both pre and post-match.

There seems to be a real lack of width in Skinner’s United side – an area that was previously used as a point of emphasis under Casey Stoney. Under Stoney we saw left-winger Leah Galton being utilised a lot more than she currently is, stretching opponents with not only width but also her pace and trickery at the by-line with her ability to accurately cross.

However, against Spurs, we once again saw a real lack of width which often made it easy for them to stop United in their attacks.

A key missing point for the United side was also the absence of midfielder Jackie Groenen who is vital in how they set the pace of the game.

Too many times were the United midfield especially caught on the ball in that first half and they were lucky to go into the half 1-0 up. That goal does however need its own special mention as Alessia Russo (who I’ve previously spoken so highly of), brought some individual brilliance with a wonder strike on the brink of HT.

She was on bully mode for the entire game – constantly pinning defenders on the halfway line and beyond. This allowed her not only to relieve pressure on the team, but also to bring the wingers and fullbacks into play. Her fantastic performance, as well as crucial saves once again from United keeper Mary Earps almost brought the team the three points. 

However, Spurs stayed in the game till the very end, and their determination paid dividend as defender Millie Percival saw her 94th minute free-kick sail all the way in without a touch. The bounce appeared to confuse everybody in the box and much to the delight of the Spurs players, rewarded the side with a well-earned point.

Leicester 1-4 Man City

Leicester scored what was only their third goal of this league campaign against a City side that are slowly starting to get important players trickling back into the side following injury lay-offs.

However, the Foxes goal in the first 90 seconds of the game didn’t stop City from sealing all three points – with Leicester continuing to give away too many chances in games.

They managed to carve out some chances in the game, but overall City were too good for them and managed to overpower them in the end. Lauren Hemp was a constant threat and the pick of the bunch from the City goals has to be awarded to Keira Walsh who unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside of the area giving the keeper no chance.

Birmingham City 0-3 Reading

Birmingham City were unable to respond to Reading’s dominant display at their ground – with another young Canadian starlet Deanne Rose shining brightest.

Kelly Chambers’ Reading side looks to be shaking off their initial early season rust and have now put together two consecutively strong performances in the league, with the forwards especially in this game combining well.

The loss however puts an even bigger strain on Birmingham City in their bid to stay in the league, as they still only have one point on the table. They’ll be looking to start building in next week’s derby against Villa.

Molly Bartrip of Reading tackles Sarah Mayling of Birmingham during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Birmingham...

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham

Where to start with Arsenal? They simply just do not look like conceding right now, and this coupled with the fact that they seem to be scoring at will makes them an extremely scary prospect for the league and for their competitors’ title chances.

Once again, the ever-dependable Kim Little was front and centre to everything good that Arsenal did in the game. The nimble and intelligent Little opened the scoring with some clinical finishing late into the first half and not content with just scoring one, she went on to score her 50th league goal soon into the second half also.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, probably one of the most in-form people in football right now Beth Mead joined in, adding a third after great work from Nikita Parris in the middle of the pitch.

The great thing about this Arsenal side is that they look like they can score from any area of the pitch, as well as the fact that they work with such intensity even when out of possession in order to win the ball back. West Ham made some good openings, but Arsenal never really looked like conceding.


Next Week is Women’s Football Week, so look out for some ones to watch on Friday!

Where should Tammy Abraham go this summer?

If ever you needed a sign that you weren’t wanted at a football club under a certain manager, it’s being the top goalscorer for the team across all competitions, being available and not even making a 12-man bench for the Champions League final.

That’s the position that Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham found himself in most recently, as the Blues were crowned champions of Europe without him thanks to Kai Havertz’s strike.

With Thomas Tuchel now guaranteed to stay on next season, Abraham must start looking at the next chapter of his career if he wants to continue pushing on to become an international striker on a regular basis. But where is best for him? Lets take a look at some realistic options and which would suit him most.

SOUTHAMPTON

The Saints are likely to be on the lookout for a number nine this summer, with Danny Ings’ future up in the air. Ings’ contract is entering the final 12 months and he has attracted interest from the likes of Tottenham, which means they will need to replace him.

Abraham has scored goals everywhere he’s been, including Chelsea, and Southampton could do a lot worse than looking to bring him in whether it be permanently or on loan. He has great feet, is good in the air, good strength and is at his best in the penalty area where Southampton would want him to hang around to take chances.

Unfortunately for them, his wages could be an issue in getting a deal done. Southampton aren’t the strongest financially and Chelsea are notoriously tough negotiators when it comes to selling so unless it suits them they won’t do it. Add to that they’ll definitely have competition for his signature, they’d need a miracle to make it happen.

BRIGHTON

Graham Potter has built a tremendous squad with Brighton since joining, but the thing that has had them in relegation battles since his arrival is the lack of a clinical front man.

Neil Maupay, Danny Welbeck, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Aaron Connolly combined for just 16 goals in the league this season and missed a whole host of chances between them, leading to the Seagulls having the worst xG differential among the entire league.

They didn’t have any issues when it came to creating though and having a striker in the box who is always available and reliable to find the back of the next is exactly what they’ve been calling for. They’ve got some cash available and while it’s unlikely to be the £40m that Chelsea reportedly want, they can make an enticing offer or get him in on loan.

Much like Southampton though, a lack of European football and competition for his signature means it would be a huge coup and is unlikely to happen.

ASTON VILLA

Tammy Abraham of Aston Villa celebrates with the trophy following his teams victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston...

A return to his old stomping ground perhaps? Abraham spent a season on loan at Villa and scored 26 goals in 40 games as he boosted them into the Premier League. Following that loan spell, he earned the chance at Chelsea under Frank Lampard and never returned.

But the connection has always been there and he admitted that he greatly enjoyed his time in England’s second city, so why not? Villa were a side who really struggled going forward if Jack Grealish couldn’t get going and while Ollie Watkins scored 14 Premier League goals in his first season, there’s always room for improvement.

Abraham would provide great competition and depth to their attack as well as goals, but it just seems unlikely that Villa would spend so big on him with Watkins performing well. No European football is again a factor, but the lure or returning somewhere he’s clearly still adored could be more tempting.

WEST HAM UNITED

David Moyes did a phenomenal job with the Hammers last season, pushing for a top four place all the way until the end before securing a place in the Europa League.

The loan signing of Jesse Lingard gave them a much needed boost for goals in the second half of the season and with Michail Antonio’s fitness up and down they need someone reliable to run the line in attack and Abraham fits the bill.

The lone striker role with interchanging attacking midfielders behind him would suit him perfectly and they have the money and position available to be filled. It would also mean he can stay in London, and hopefully improve his chances of getting back into the England set up.

There aren’t many negatives to this deal other than whether or not West Ham want to make it happen, or if they prioritise someone else.

ARSENAL

Tammy Abraham of Chelsea is challenged by Rob Holding of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on...

Controversial? Maybe. But there’s no doubt that if Arsenal are looking for a striker this summer then Abraham should be high up on their list, and if Abraham is to leave then Arsenal would be an ideal destination.

Mikel Arteta is seemingly being backed to oversee a complete squad rebuild this summer and with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both the wrong side of 30 striker could be a position they look to sign in. From the way Arteta has played previously, he wants his striker predominantly in the penalty area and that is where Abraham is at his absolute best.

£40million may seem high, but if Lacazette or Aubameyang were to leave it would be for a similar price or would free up huge wages to make it possible, and he’d likely be happy to stay in London.

No European football would be a problem, but Arsenal have enough credit in the bank as a big club to tempt him where Brighton and Southampton don’t.

England’s centre back options that are better than Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady

As Euro 2020 continues to edge ever closer, there are question marks about who will make it into Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the tournament.

England are currently selecting through their best pool of talent for several tournaments and that includes defensively, where for once they have an abundance of quality options to choose from.

Despite that though, Southgate seems to have prioritised character and leadership rather than actual defensive quality for two of his centre back options and that is a problem.

It seems pretty certain that alongside Harry Maguire and John Stones it will be Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady and Michael Keane as the central defensive options that Southgate will go for. Mings, Coady and Keane however seem like picks based on reputation rather than form or actual ability.

Currently the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Ezri Konsa and Ben Godfrey are absolutely shining at their respective clubs despite inconsistent form from their clubs and yet none seem to be under consideration for a role at all.

England v Switzerland - 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship : News Photo

Konsa is currently the secondary centre-back behind Mings at Aston Villa, but is quite clearly outperforming him this season. Whenever you watch them play together it’s always the younger man who stands out, while Mings has been the man to make the more high profile mistakes including most recently in the defeat to Manchester United where he got far too tight to Mason Greenwood, who turned him before finishing.

Godfrey has been brilliant for Everton too, playing at full-back as well as in a back three under Carlo Ancelotti and shining in the Premier League after his move from Championship side Norwich last summer.

With great pace, great physicality and a very good eye for a pass as shown for his assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin against West Ham this past weekend, Godfrey is a guaranteed future England international. With Stones and Maguire the sure-fire starting pair, seniority as back-up options should’t be a priority.

Holgate and Konsa have been excellent and arguably outshone their club teammates and the fact they’re not even in a conversation for a spot in the now larger squad is beyond strange.

If Southgate is looking for someone similar to his current options and with leadership quality, then Coady’s involvement over Lewis Dunk is just as peculiar.

The 29-year-old Brighton skipper has been excellent this season despite his club’s struggles. Aerially he has been a powerhouse and has proven to be a threat in the opposition box too, scoring five times.

But what’s been most impressive is his ability to play out from the back under Graham Potter, as Brighton have showed a great ability and confidence to outplay teams no matter the opposition. Their league position is greatly effected by the fact their strikers have struggled to find the back of the net, because defensively they’ve not been that bad at all.

Coady’s main reason for getting into the side was his familiarity in a back three for Wolves over the years, but Dunk can provide that now and is better, so why isn’t he under consideration?

Even after those three the most shocking omission is likely to be AC Milan’s young loanee, Chelsea academy graduate Fikayo Tomori.

The 23-year-old barely featured under Frank Lampard at the start of the season, but since joining the Serie A side on loan has been one of the standout defenders in the league. Absolutely rapid, great on the ball, physically strong and with a great reading of the game, Tomori absolutely deserves to at least be in the conversation.

He’s shown leadership qualities too but is also the perfect covering defender alongside the more dominant type like a Harry Maguire. He has experience within the senior set up in both a back three and four under Southgate and his performances should see him in the squad ahead of more senior options.

Southgate’s mind seems made up, but the defensive lapses that have cost them previously are a problem. For that reason, they should be looking to use the most in-form defenders to try and eradicate them.

Mason Greenwood stakes claim for striker role with winner against Brighton

Mason Greenwood has staked his claim to become the long-term number nine for Manchester United after scoring a late winner against Brighton at Old Trafford.

The Seagulls took the lead in the first half when former academy star Danny Welbeck lost Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the penalty area and was able to head past Dean Henderson at the second attempt. United struggled to create anything of note for a while, although Greenwood did hit the post early on and it wasn’t until the hour mark where they’d get back into the game.

Bruno Fernandes latched on to a loose ball and fed Marcus Rashford, who slotted past the goalkeeper as United pulled it back before Fernandes crossed for Paul Pogba to volley back across goal and Greenwood latched on to a header to grab all three points.

It was exactly the type of goal that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been trying to coach Anthony Martial and Rashford to score over the last two years and exactly the type of goal that Edinson Cavani was brought in to score when he signed last summer.

It was a great sign of progress in his development, with the England international grabbing only his sixth goal in a campaign where he has mostly been shunted out to the right wing.

But with news that Anthony Martial is likely to miss the rest of the season after picking up a knee injury on international duty, it means the 19-year-old could get himself a run as the central striker between now and the end of the season.

The obvious option is Cavani to take the leading role, but the Uruguayan is an interesting case right now. He himself has only scored seven goals this season and has performed better coming off the bench than when he’s started games. His physical attributes aren’t as sharp as they were during his prime, obviously, but his movement is also not as great as it once was.

Add to that his all-round game is iffy at best, with his link up play absolutely appalling and his passing is often very wayward, United struggle to sustain attacks when he needs to play with his back to goal.

Greenwood has a better overall game than Cavani does right now and since bulking up physically, he is much more comfortable now than he was last season when it comes to duels against defenders. He is more mobile, able to go both ways and ultimately is just a much better option right now.

He came through the academy as a number nine who scored goals relentlessly, even as he went through the age groups and it’s clear that he is more comfortable in central areas than out wide where his space is marginalised.

He’s never going to be able to learn how to play as a striker in the first-team without playing there and there seems to be no better time than now. With Cavani unlikely to stay beyond this season now after claims that he wants to return to South America, there is no point shoehorning him into the side.

It’s the perfect opportunity to give Greenwood a run in the side in his best position, with United now 11 points clear of fifth place and with a favourable draw in the Europa League quarter-finals against Granada.

Put the future of the club in the spotlight now and if Greenwood can perform then it could change the club’s transfer plans for the better.

Tariq Lamptey to renew contract with Brighton

Tariq Lamptey is on the verge of extending his contract at Brighton, putting an end to speculation around his future at the club.

The right back has been a revelation at the AMEX Community Stadium since signing from Chelsea in January 2020, exploding onto the scene and into the first-team picture.

Playing mostly as a wing-back under Graham Potter, Lamptey has shown impressive defensive ability as well as a willingness to create when going forward and his level of performance has seen him linked with some of Europe’s best clubs.

Rumours had been swirling that Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Manchester United all had an interest in the 20-year-old defender but it seems that Brighton have been able to convince him to extend his stay in the Premier League with them.

He has cemented his place as a starting defender in the Brighton side and that has seen his development come on leaps and bounds. He is now regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in the league just a year after making his first senior appearance, for Chelsea against Arsenal as a substitute.

Many had expected him to take the opportunity to move on, with Brighton’s involvement in the Premier League beyond this season far from assured. Potter’s side are currently in 17th place in the league, with just two wins from 18 games so far this season.

Relegation would almost certainly be the end of his time at the club and it’s possible that any new deal would reflect that, with the potential of a release clause being included definitely a possibility.

A pre-agreed clause with the player would allow the club to set their price for the player now in the event that they do drop out of the top flight, with his list of suitors only likely to grow as the season progresses.

But his decision to stay put for the remainder of the campaign is a sensible one. He’s getting minutes, playing well and despite Brighton’s poor results he is standing out with his performances. He’s getting top-flight experience in different systems too, with the Seagulls switching between a five-at-the-back system with wing-backs and a more traditional four-at-the-back system.

With regular game time and strong performances Lamptey is impressing everyone, including the England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2020. That continuity is important, especially mid-season, and makes the decision to stay put the right one.

Brighton will be absolutely delighted by the decision and now must work on staying in the Premier League to have a chance at keeping him beyond this season, new contract or not.

Yves Bissouma Appreciation Post

Whenever a Premier League team is on the brink of a relegation battle, there’s always one player who is clearly too good to be in that side.

Last year for Aston Villa it was Jack Grealish, for Norwich it was Emi Buendia and for Bournemouth it was Callum Wilson. This year, as Brighton sit in 16th place with ten points from 11 games, it’s Yves Bissouma.

The Mali international is in his third season at the AMEX Stadium and has been the shining light in a Brighton side struggling for any sort of good form recently.

At 6ft tall, Bissouma’s long frame and super physique is the perfect base for all his technical qualities to shine through too.

He breaks up play well, is strong in the tackle, a good passer of the ball, breaks lines well with dribbling and passing and is good in possession. As a defensive-led box-to-box midfielder, Bissouma is among the best in the division despite playing for Brighton.

It’s no shock to see that he has been linked with a move to the top clubs, with Liverpool reportedly at the head of the queue for a January move. But it’s not just the champions who Bisosuma would help by joining in the next transfer window.

With his skillset and the inevitable departure of Paul Pogba, Manchester United should be keeping an eye on him as a potential midfield replacement. While he wouldn’t be a direct replacement, he would fill a gap in midfield but also add defensive quality and athleticism at an affordable price.

Tottenham could also look into the signing of the Mali international, with his skillset fitting in perfectly well with what Mourinho likes in a midfielder. With Moussa Sissoko so key to what Spurs do in midfield, especially in big games, Bissouma would be an improvement with his ability on the ball while also being able to do everything Sissoko does off it.

It’s clear as day he’d improve the likes of Arsenal too, who are severely lacking in quality players at the club beyond Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney at a push.

Bissouma is 24 years old and has proven that he is good enough to play in the Premier League. With Brighton struggling to compete at this level, Bissouma could do much worse than move on from the Seagulls and the ‘big six’ could do a lot worse than look at him to improve their squads.

England: Right-Backs For Years…

As England continue to look towards the future, one position in particular continues to produce elite talent no matter the club.

The nation have currently got top quality options out wide in attack, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford backed up by Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Greenwood and Bukayo Saka. After having problems for years with their full-backs, they now have a plethora of talent in the right-back position too.

Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold are the current occupiers of the shirt in the senior national team. But with Walker now 30 and Trippier turning 30 this week, England are likely to look to the future sooner rather than later. Alexander-Arnold looks set to be given the opportunity to make the shirt his own, and rightly so considering his performances for Liverpool. But there are several others out there currently putting their name in the mix.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been one of the best defenders in the league over the last two campaigns and being the first choice right-back at Manchester United will certainly be doing him no harm. At 22 years old, the former Crystal Palace man has seemingly mastered the defensive side of the game but going forward he lacks quality. As an ex-attacker that may come as a surprise, but his gangly frame sees him struggle to dribble and beat men on the ball and then his technical ability is in question with the ball at his feet. He is however quite comfortably the best pure defender England have.

Another option for Gareth Southgate is Chelsea’s Reece James. At 20 years old and younger than Alexander-Arnold, he will be licking his lips at the battle. After going out on loan for Wigan where he often found himself playing in midfield, James is somewhere in the middle of Alexander-Arnold and Wan-Bissaka in terms of attributes. He’s very comfortable on the ball and good in both directions off it. He’s not quite as good going forward as Trent Alexander-Arnold and not quite as good defensively as Wan-Bissaka, but he’s better than both in the opposite aspect of the game which puts him right in the mix.

Chelsea FC v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Round of 16 : News Photo
Lamptey and James (right) came through the Chelsea academy together.

A wildcard option is Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey. After coming through the Chelsea academy, Lamptey found himself behind James in the pecking order under Frank Lampard. He made his Chelsea debut as a substitute against Arsenal and put in a stellar performance but then made the decision in January to pursue regular first team football at the Amex Stadium. Since signing, he has been a regular at right wing-back and performed impeccably well. At 19 years old, he has plenty of room for improvement and the fact he’s playing in a different formation will help him. Southgate has shown a willingness to use wing-backs on occasion and that could provide an advantage for Lamptey with the others not experienced in the role. With quality on the ball, ability to beat a man, pace, defensive ability in one-on-one situations and good reading of the game, he has all the tools to be a huge success.

England’s future is bright in the wide positions in attack and they’re now developing insane, elite talents defensively too. Now it’s time to turn their attentions to central midfield.