The 2022/23 WSL season kicks off on Friday evening as Arsenal welcome Brighton to Borehamwood.
The Gunners narrowly missed out on the title by a single point last term, and – buoyed by boasting three members of England’s Euro 2022 winning squad – will be attempting to end Chelsea’s run of domestic dominance and finish top of the pile for the first time since 2019.
Arsenal face a Brighton side who have comfortably established themselves in the WSL after years of shrewd investment, but have lost a number of key players during the summer transfer window.
When is kick off? Friday 16 September, 19:30 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Meadow Park, Borehamwood
TV channel/livestream? FA Player (UK & international)
Jonas Eidevall has confirmed that Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord are both available, after the pair picked up knocks on international duty with Australia earlier this month.
Jordan Nobbs and Rafaelle are also in contention to feature, having both missed the tail end of the 2021/22 season through injury.
New-signing Rebekah Stott will miss out for Brighton as she continues her recovery from ankle surgery.
Megan Connelly is a further absentee, after suffering a fractured rib and bruised kidney while away on international duty.
Arsenal: Zinsberger; Maritz, Rafaelle, Williamson, Catley; Walti, Little, Miedema; Mead, Blackstenius, Foord.
Brighton: Walsh, Pattinson, Williams, Fox, Kullberg; Sarri, Ye-eun, Zigiotte Olme, Green; Lee, Carter.
Arsenal will be expected to be challenging at the very top of the WSL again this season. Although fans may be concerned about the minimal summer transfer window activity, it should be noted that the Gunners did recruit substantially last January. Vivianne Miedema signing a new contract was a huge boost for the club, while Beth Mead is in the form of her life.
Brighton are looking a little bit short defensively after last season’s regular starters Danique Kerkdijk and Maya Le Tissier departed in the summer, in addition to Stott’s injury, and the Gunners should have too much firepower for the Seagulls on Friday evening.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Brighton
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Arsenal played host to Bodo/Glimt in one of the later kick-offs, after fellow Premier League sides Manchester United and West Ham jetted off around the continent to face Omonia Nicosia and Anderlecht respectively.
Here’s a round-up of the evening’s action.
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Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt under the lights at the Emirates.
Eddie Nketiah tapped home a rebound after Kieran Tierney’s thumping effort bounced back off the post, minutes before Rob Holding headed home from a cross from the excellent Fabio Vieira.
Bodo/Glimt grew into the game as things progressed but Arsenal killed things off with a third five minutes before full-time as a glorious Gabriel Jesus run ended in a tap-in from Vieira.
Rennes 2-1 Dynamo Kyiv
Fenerbahce 2-0 AEK Larnaca
HJK Helsinki 1-1 Ludogorets
A late meltdown from Roma saw them slump to a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Betis.
Betis were the most dangerous early on but Roma took the lead through a Paulo Dybala penalty just after the half-hour mark, although their lead lasted about five minutes as Guido Rodriguez fizzed in an equaliser before the break.
Nicolo Zaniolo hit the bar and Dybala saw a volley expertly saved before the interval and Roma continued that momentum after the break. They failed to find the back of the net, however, and were punished for their profligacy as Luiz Henrique headed home a winner with two minutes to go.
Things ended on a sourer note for Roma as they lost Zaniolo to a pointless red card in stoppage time. The Italian kicked out at an opponent and was deservedly dismissed, leaving him suspended for the next game.
Malmo 0-1 Union Berlin
Braga 1-2 Union SG
FC Sheriff 0-2 Real Sociedad
Manchester United came perilously close to a major European upset as they were forced to come from behind to seal a 3-2 victory over Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia.
United could have had a few goals early on – Antony fluffed a cut-back and Bruno Fernandes hit the bar – but some shocking defending saw the Red Devils punished on the counter by Karim Ansarifard ten minutes before half-time.
Seven minutes into the second half, substitute Marcus Rashford fired home a delightful equaliser following an excellent pass from Fernandes, before Anthony Martial came off the bench and fired United ahead shortly after the hour mark.
Rashford tapped home a third with five minutes to go but Omonia grabbed an immediate response to set up a nervy equaliser, but United held on to seal an uncomfortable three points.
Sturm Graz 0-0 Lazio
Midtylland 2-2 Feyenoord
Freiburg 2-0 Nantes
Olympiacos 0-3 Qarabag
Red Star 4-1 Ferencvaros
Monaco 3-1 Trabzonspor
Hearts 0-3 Fiorentina
RFS 0-0 Basaksehir
A late strike from Gianluca Scamacca fired West Ham to well-earned victory over Belgian giants Anderlecht.
West Ham were dominant from start to finish but had to wait until the 79th-minute for Scamacca to touch down Lucas Paqueta’s flick and fire across goal into the bottom corner to get the lead they deserved.
However, West Ham had goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to thank for the three points as the Frenchman pulled out what will surely be the save of the tournament to repel a close-range header and secure the victory. Sensational stuff.
Silkeborg 5-0 FCSB
Lech Poznan 0-0 Hapoel Beer Sheva
Villarreal 5-0 Austria Vienna
Slovacko 0-1 Nice
Koln 0-1 Partizan
Dnipro-1 2-2 Vaduz
AZ Alkmaar 3-2 Apollon Limassol
Molde 3-0 Shamrock Rovers
Gent 0-1 Djurgarden
Sivasspor 3-4 Ballkani
Slavia Prague 0-1 CFR Cluj
Pyunik Yerevan 2-0 Zalgiris
Basel 0-2 Slovan Bratislava
Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury
Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.
The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.
There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.
The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.
Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.
‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.
“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.
“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”
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