Arsenal travel to Dagenham to take on West Ham United on Sunday evening in the WSL with the second half of the season now well underway. Arsenal brought in three players during the January transfer window and recalled one from loan but all the focus was on the chase for a prolific goal scorer with bids for Alessia Russo and Signe Bruun lodged on deadline day.
Arsenal came up empty handed which, by Jonas Eidevall’s own admission was, “a disappointment” but the Gunners coach was equally bullish in his Friday press conference, saying, “You can have results or you can have excuses. You can’t have both, we will try to focus on getting results.” The squad Arsenal have is what they have and the assault on the second half of the campaign starts in East London.
New: ‘We knew it would be tricky but it was harder than we thought’ Jonas Eidevall on January striker search https://t.co/zLxJowYiV9 #arsenal #afc pic.twitter.com/jrqAqiQQT7
— arseblognews (@arseblognews) February 3, 2023
The dust on the window will settle and Arsenal have the more immediate task of vanquishing Paul Konchesky’s West Ham side ahead of two big games against Manchester City next week- one in the Conti Cup and one in the WSL. The Irons are a direct team who will pose a strong physical and counter attacking threat in this game.
For Arsenal, with Mead and Miedema unavailable for the remainder of the season, they have to find a way to be clinical and consistent in front of goal, starting on Sunday evening. The second half of the season is going to be incredibly demanding but also very exciting. Konchesky’s side will be no pushovers.
Lia Wälti is unavailable due to “a small injury” which kept her out of the cup victories over Aston Villa and Leeds United last week, so Leah Williamson is likely to continue in midfield. Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema are out with ACL injuries while Teyah Goldie is also unavailable due to injury (I don’t know the extent of it yet but will ask!)
GOALKEEPERS: 1.Zinsberger, 14.D’Angelo, 18.Marckese
DEFENDERS: 2.Rafaelle, 3.Wubben-Moy, 5.Beattie, 6.Williamson, 7.Catley, 16.Maritz, 26.Wienroither
MIDFIELDERS: 10.Little, 12.Maanum, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl
FORWARDS: 15.McCabe, 17.Hurtig, 19.Foord, 20.Gio, 25.Blackstenius, 59.Agyemang
A WORD FROM THE BOSS
“Lia Wälti is progressing, unfortunately, West Ham is a bit too early for her but other than that everyone is available. West Ham are a versatile team, they have proven themselves as a real threat in their aerial abilities , especially with Brynjarsdóttir and we knew from the game that we played against them in the autumn that they pose a lot of different threats and challenges with the way that they play. We need a top game to get a victory.
“Pelova has a lot of qualities that will fit into her role here, she is very comfortable on the ball she has great vision in playing passes. She works hard defensively and has good balance between defence and offence, when she dribbles and when she tackles, she is an excellent one v one player. You can see straight away that she has come into our environment and she wants to learn but she also brings her own style. She has been confident from day one and been confident and adapted really well.”
LAST TIME OUT
When the teams met at Meadow Park in October, the Gunners ran out 3-1 winners. Dagny Brynjarsdottir opened the scoring for the Irons but Arsenal replied with goals from Jordan Nobbs, Stina Blackstenius and Frida Maanum gave Arsenal the victory. In this fixture last season, Arsenal were 2-0 winners in Dagenham on the final day of the season with second half goals from Stina Blackstenius and Steph Catley.
HIGHLIGHTS | Arsenal vs West Ham (3-1) | WSL | Nobbs, Blackstenius, Maanum – YouTube
West Ham are an uncomplicated team under Paul Konchesky. They have the lowest pass completion rate in the WSL and the highest proportion of long passes. They are direct and look to play on the counter and they don’t do it by building through the thirds. With Brynjarsdóttir having already scored three headed goals in the WSL this season, they look to find her runs from midfield in the area.
In Vivienne Asseyi, they also have a wide forward who they look to hit quickly from the back to see whether she can exploit space in behind the opposition right-back. They also signed Danish forward Amelie Thestrup on deadline day and the Dane is very much a hold up forward who likes to duel with defenders. Konchesky said of his deadline day signings Thestrup and former Arsenal trainee Shannon Cooke,
“Amalie (Thestrup) will come in and give us a lot of work ethic and add experience to the team. She’s somebody that we’re really excited to see in action. Shannon (Cooke) is young, but she’s got leadership qualities that we like. She does everything that West Ham fans will love when it comes to defending. She loves to get stuck in, but she can also play out with the ball – we’re pleased to have her here.”
🌱 First day on the grass at Chadwell Heath! @amaliethestrup & @shann_cooke got to work on the training pitch ahead of Arsenal! ⚒️
— West Ham United Women (@westhamwomen) February 2, 2023
PLAYER TO WATCH
In the absence of Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead, Arsenal’s other forwards are going to have to step up in front of goal, as well as continuing some of the important build-up work they do. Norwegian midfielder Frida Maanum is a player who looks very capable of stepping up to the plate when it comes to end-product.
The 23-year-old is now the Gunners leading scorer for the season with ten goals in all competitions and she bagged a brace in the Conti Cup victory over Aston Villa last week. Maanum is a different player to Miedema, who was previously playing in the number 10 position, but she has power on and off the ball and the ability to bulldoze her way through defences.
Maanum is going to be a key player for the remainder of the season, maybe the key player and the blend of Foord, Blackstenius and Hurtig ahead of her means that the Gunners have a powerful, transitional front four. Maanum, however, has a touch of gloss to her game as well. I wouldn’t mind betting that she will finish the season as the team’s leading scorer.
Subs: 5.Beattie, 14.D’Angelo, 16.Maritz, 17.Hurtig, 18.Marckese, 20.Gio, 21.Pelova, 22.Kuhl, 59.Agyemang
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The match takes place at the Chigwell Construction Stadium in Dagenham on Sunday evening at 6.45pm, the game is being shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.
We will have post-match reaction from Jonas Eidevall on the site on Sunday evening, as well as the usual match analysis piece online on Monday or Tuesday.
Can’t say I’m a fan of playing Williamson in midfield. Drop her back into defence where she’s one of the best in the world and lets see what Pelova can do
I prefer Williamson in central defence too but she’s our only and best option as DM/6.
That would be a strong forward line. Physical but with some cuteness. Hope we see Pelova, Kuhl, Gio and Agyemang get some minutes.
I thought Agyemang scored the best goal in the 9-0 thrashing of Leeds, when the ball came back to her off the post, two defenders were in the way of her shot, but she moved them out of the way brilliantly before firing home.