Arsenal are back in WSL action for the first time in nearly a month, as they host West Ham on Sunday evening at Meadow Park. The Gunners last played in the WSL on October 10th, with Champions League football, an international break and last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final occurring in the four weeks since Arsenal beat Everton 3-0.
The Gunners enter play on Sunday top of the league, with Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Saturday against Aston Villa not large enough to send the defending champions ahead of Arsenal on goal difference. Arsenal will be keen to keep momentum going, though, with five games in the next two weeks.
West Ham were mired in the relegation battle for almost the entirety of last season, eventually finishing three points clear of the bottom. Having won only three games last season, West Ham have already won twice this campaign, and find themselves 6th. Oli Harder, appointed last winter, brought in eleven players, while also seeing ten players leave the club permanently. Most pertinently, Claudia Walker joined from Birmingham, Australian international Tameka Yallop joined, the talented Japanese midfielder Yui Hasegawa signed from AC Milan, and the club signed Lisa Evans from Arsenal on loan—Evans is ineligible to play.
This season, then, has seen a markedly different West Ham. They won away at Manchester City, and they look far more comfortable in Harder’s preferred 3-4-3, with Dagny Brynjarsdottir and either Abbey Leigh-Stringer or Zaneta Wyne providing cover in midfield, with a combination of Hasegawa, Yallop, and Adrianna Leon playing behind Walker, who looks to hold play up.
Arsenal should beat West Ham, but West Ham will have looked at how Brighton last weekend and Aston Villa last month stymied the Gunners for 45 minutes, and will try to do so for a longer period, while also look to exploit Arsenal’s high defensive line.
Vivianne Miedema, Tobin Heath, and Lotte Wubben-Moy are all available, after they were rested last weekend by Jonas Eidevall. Steph Catley is fit after a minor injury.
Player to watch:
Katie McCabe picked up October’s Barclays player of the month, as well as goal of the month. McCabe has carried on the form that saw her named as Arsenal’s player of the season from last campaign, having already scored three goals and assisted three in the league, playing both left back and left wing. As West Ham look to make the game more transitional, McCabe could be crucial in getting Arsenal to break them down, especially if she can combine down the left as she has done in recent weeks. Arsenal swing in more crosses under Jonas Eidevall, and one reason why, beyond just the manager’s preferences, is the quality of delivery, especially from McCabe.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 4. Patten, 6. Williamson, 5. Beattie, 15. McCabe; 12. Maanum, 10. Little; 9. Mead, 8. Nobbs, 23. Iwabuchi; 11. Miedema
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley, 13. Wälti, 14. Parris, 16. Maritz, 19. Foord, 20. Boye, 77. Heath
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, FA WSL
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Sunday, November 7th 10:45 AM PST | 1:45 PM EST | 6:45 PM GMT