The Arsenal captain Kim Little scored her 49th and 50th WSL goals as Arsenal beat West Ham United 4-0. The Gunners are three points clear at the top of the league, as Little became the third player in WSL history to score 50 goals, after teammate Vivianne Miedema and Ellen White.
Arsenal made three changes to the team that beat Brighton in the Women’s FA Cup semi-final, with Lotte Wubben-Moy replacing Jen Beattie, Frida Maanum replacing Lia Wälti, and Mana Iwabuchi coming in for Jordan Nobbs.
West Ham haven’t lost since the opening day of the season and they started brightly, forcing a corner, and then taking advantage of an Arsenal miscue from a free kick that enabled Claudia Walker to have a shot from range. That, however, would be their last attacking move for some time, as Arsenal grew into the game and began to exert pressure on West Ham’s goal.
Arsenal looked to exploit the space behind West Ham’s wing backs and push Oli Harder’s team back, to create space for midfield runs. Indeed, Arsenal’s best chances of the opening period came from plays from wide: Katie McCabe’s cutback was deftly met by Iwabuchi, but her shot hit the post. The woodwork was struck twice more, as Beth Mead’s pass for Nikita Parris was deflected by Gilly Flaherty onto the post and Iwabuchi, running onto Mead’s pickout, hit the outside of Mackenzie Arnold’s goal. Arnold also saved Caitlin Foord’s header, as Arsenal peppered the West Ham goal.
The breakthrough came six minutes from halftime. Maanum’s long pass saw Mead get behind the West Ham defence, and she passed back to Little breaking from midfield. Little beat two, and then fired past Arnold to give Arsenal the lead.
Little scored her second on the other side of half time. Parris won the ball high up, Maritz played in Little, whose shot was hit too hard for Arnold to get a glove at her near post. It’s Little’s 6th goal of the season, putting her top of the scoring charts in the WSL.
Nine minutes later, it was three. If the first two goals were examples of Arsenal’s possession play and counter-pressing, the third was a fine example of Arsenal’s capability on the counter attack, with Parris running at pace before slipping in Beth Mead, who wrapped her finish past Arnold for her fourth goal of the league campaign.
Arsenal added a fourth late on as Mead’s cross was put into her own goal by the unfortunate Grace Fisk, while at the other end, Zinsberger was largely untroubled, as Arsenal made it 486 minutes without conceding in the league. They will take that record to the Hive next weekend against 3rd place Tottenham, though before that, Arsenal head to Denmark to play Køge on Wednesday in the Champions League.
Arsenal: Zinsberger; Maritz, Williamson (Boye 71’), Wubben-Moy, McCabe; Maanum, Little (Wälti 62’); Parris (Catley 74’), Iwabuchi (Nobbs 71’), Mead; Foord (Miedema 62’),
Substitutes not used: Williams, Stenson, Patten
Goals: Little 39’, 52’, Mead 61’, Fisk (84’ og)