Brighton vs West Ham / Fliss Gibbons seeks improvement against Hammers after Arsenal defeat

Fliss Gibbons speaks to the media ahead of Brighton's match against West Ham this Sunday
Fliss Gibbons speaks to the media ahead of Brighton's match against West Ham this Sunday

Converting from striker to left back does appear to be the most natural transition and to do so at the highest level of women's football is an even greater task.

It is however a challenge that Brighton's Fliss Gibbons has taken in her stride and further to that, Albion's popular player believes it has improved her as a footballer.

Gibbons' versatility has helped Hope Powell's team to two draws and a defeat in their opening three fixtures of the Women's Super League.

Brighton drew their first match against Bristol City and gained a creditable 1-1 draw against WSL giants Chelsea, before a disappointing loss to defending champions and Champions League semi-finalists Arsenal.

Today (2pm), Albion welcome West Ham to the People's Pension Stadium Crawley. West Ham will be eager to prove a point after their home defeat in front of 25,000 fans at the London Stadium to Tottenham, while Gibbons believes Albion can improve from their loss at Arsenal.

Gibbons, who scored 33 goals in 19 games for Gillingham before re-joining Brighton discussed her role in the team ahead the Hammers test, "I have been in a more defensive role. This is my second season, so to begin with it was a challenge, there was a lot to learn," said the 25-year-old from Maidstone.

"But when Hope (Powell) came in, she said she saw me as a left back than a wide forward or a striker, so I was happy to play there and it’s actually been nice to learn and develop different parts of my game.

“I’m playing against the best players in the country, probably Europe and the world as well, some of the best strikers. It has definitely been a challenge there was some tough lessons last season probably individually and collectively with the step up to the WSL.

"But it has been enjoyable and when I signed my professional contract with Albion I knew it was always going to be difficult and a step up from the level I had played before, but I have enjoyed it.

"We feel like we’re in a lot better position starting this season than we were last time. We learned some tough lessons last season. If you look at our performances at the beginning of this season, compared to the beginning of last we are a lot stronger team.”

It was a testing start to the season as Brighton faced both Arsenal and Chelsea - two of the best teams in the division - in their opening three matches.

“Arsenal and Chelsea were two very contrasting games," Gibbons added. They are two of the top three or four teams in the league. The Chelsea game was brilliant and we were unlucky not to get three points there. We really showcased ourselves that day and showed we are not there to just make up the numbers and we can compete with those bigger teams.

"Unfortunately the Arsenal game was very different. It was probably another step up in the level that they played, but we didn’t give a good enough account of ourselves and we have owned that as players, we know the coach feels the same.

"That was disappointing. We have done some quite rigorous analysis on that game and we look to go into the West Ham game much improved."

Manager Powell was also disappointed with the display at the Gunners and will hope the analysis will help produce a display against West Ham more like the Chelsea performance than Arsenal.

"The players are raring to go and right some wrongs," said Powell. "It was not the result. It was the manner in which we lost. The way we played against Chelsea, that spirit and desire, it just was not there against Arsenal. Lose the game, fine that happens, but it was the manner. I was not happy at all. I just felt most players, were not there. It was not a good day.

The Brighton manager added, "The players have a fantastic attitude they are really committed to learning and they want to do well. West Ham have had an overhaul of new players. Lots of top quality players, they are very direct and quick. For them, the loss against Tottenham at their home ground, they will have a point to prove.

"As we also have, so it will be another tough challenge for us. Hopefully our home support and the spirit of the girls will help us get something from the game."