There’s no rest for the wicked as Arsenal take on West Ham United at Meadow Park in the WSL on Sunday evening. The Gunners maintained their perfect start in their Champions League with an expected 3-1 win over FC Zurich at the Emirates on Thursday evening in a game that saw Jonas Eidevall rotate his team.
Arsenal have a rare midweek without a game after Sunday evening’s London derby. However, they take on an Irons side who have scored five first half goals in their last two games (though none in the second half). Paul Konchesky’s side are quick starters and West Ham had midweek off while Arsenal played a Champions League match.
Jordan Nobbs 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/FQWYwnaqm9
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) October 27, 2022
The performances of Jordan Nobbs and Mana Iwabuchi, each making their first starts of the season, gave Eidevall food for thought- Nobbs was on the score sheet while Iwabuchi helped herself to an assist. Lina Hurtig also got off the mark in an Arsenal shirt with a brace and a first full 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt.
Arsenal are aiming to maintain their perfect start to the WSL season and retain their place at the top of the table. Konchesky’s West Ham will provide a stern test, though Jonas Eidevall will probably be grateful for the evening kickoff, even if the supporters aren’t, to give his players the maximum amount of recovery time.
Leah Williamson and Rafaelle are both absent with foot injuries. Teyah Goldie (ACL) is also out. Laura Wienroither is expected to return from illness after missing the game against FC Zurich. Manu Zinsberger will return to the starting line-up after being rested for that game.
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 18.Marckese, 40.Williams
DEFENDERS: 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 26.Wienroither, 62.Reid
MIDFIELDERS: 8.Nobbs, 10.Little, 11.Miedema, 12.Maanum, 13.Wälti, 15.McCabe, 23.Iwabuchi
FORWARDS: 9.Mead, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 25.Blackstenius, 59.Agyemang
A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“It’s pretty clear when you see West Ham play that they are a strong team on the counter-attack. They have some really strong individuals upfront who can do different things. Viviane Asseyi is very good at taking players on one v one. Dagný Brynjarsdóttir is one of the best players in the air in the whole division and very threatening coming in with runs from behind. We really have to be aware of those threats that they pose so that’s what we need to try and nullify.
“Oli (Harder, West Ham’s coach last season) had a set formation that allowed them a lot of control, which posed a different threat because it was hard to get the ball from them when you pressed them high. Maybe they were lacking players upfront once they got through, now they look very dangerous once they get through in counter-attacking and open play situations.
“They went from a back five to a back four and that’s probably what you get, a back five allows you to be a bit more controlled but a back four allows you to be more dangerous if you are successful in possession.”
LAST TIME OUT
The teams met on the final day of the 2021-22 season in Dagenham with Arsenal running out 2-0 winners thanks to second half goals from Stina Blackstenius and Steph Catley. In this fixture last season at Meadow Park, the Gunners won 4-0 with a brace from Kim Little, a goal from Beth Mead and a Grace Fisk own goal.
All seven of West Ham’s WSL goals this season have come in the first half. A first half goal was enough to beat Everton on the opening day, they took an early lead at Chelsea before losing 3-1, while they took a two-goal first half lead in their 2-1 win at Aston Villa and a 3-0 half-time lead in their 3-2 win against Reading.
The pattern is clear, Konchesky’s teams look to start quickly and possibly fade in the second half and Arsenal will have to be aware of this on Sunday, especially as they had a Champions League game on Thursday night while West Ham did not have a midweek fixture. West Ham have started the season well despite the upheaval in the summer.
Previous coach Oli Harder surprisingly resigned in May, while Adriana Leon went to Manchester United, Katerina Svitkova to Chelsea, Yui Hasegawa to Manchester City and captain Gilly Flaherty to Liverpool. However, forward Viviane Asseyi from Bayern Munich has given them a much needed injection of quality upfront.
“We’ve got nine points on the board and we’re in a really good place at the moment!”
— West Ham United Women (@westhamwomen) October 26, 2022
PLAYER TO WATCH
West Ham have key defensive personnel missing for this game, with Arsenal academy graduate Lucy Parker injured and French centre-half Hawa Cissoko suspended. This informs the switch from a back five to a back four in recent games, midfielder Kate Longhurst played at centre-half for the 3-2 victory over Reading last weekend.
Stina Blackstenius was rested for the match against Zurich but enjoyed an eventful 16 minutes when she did come onto the pitch, immediately having two dangerous shots within minutes of coming on, one of which led directly to Lina Hurtig’s second goal. She really ought to have scored in stoppage time too when she was away on goal but scooped her finish over the bar.
It’s rare for Stina to miss such a presentable chance but she will look to make those runs in-behind and in the channels to try to expose the West Ham defence. When the teams met in May, the Swede scored with her first touch off the bench as she immediately found room behind the Irons defence. Arsenal will look to her to lead the charge on Sunday.
Subs: 5.Beattie, 8.Nobbs, 11.Miedema, 17.Hurtig, 18.Mackerse, 23.Iwabuchi, 26.Wienroither, 59.Agyemang, 62.Reid.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game kicks off at 6.45pm at Meadow Park and will be shown live on Sky Sports Football in the UK. If you are going to the Emirates for the 2pm kickoff against Nottingham Forest, it is comfortably possible to make the trek across to Boreham Wood in time for the game. Simply take the underground to King’s Cross and trains to Elstree and Boreham Wood are every 15 minutes on the overground from St. Pancras international.
We will have the usual match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday evening, as well as the usual match analysis piece on the site on Monday evening or Tuesday morning. The Arsenal Women Arsecast October mailbag edition will be out early next week.