It’s a quick turnaround for Arsenal Women, who play West Ham tomorrow at Meadow Park. This is Arsenal’s game in hand, as the original fixture was postponed due to snow. Following tomorrow’s game, Arsenal will only have fixtures away at Everton and at home against Aston Villa left. Having won on Sunday, Arsenal are in a strong position to finish third in the WSL. With a goal difference that is twenty-four better than Manchester United, Arsenal really only need six points from their last three games to qualify for the Champions League. With West Ham two points clear of the relegation zone, it is an excellent chance for the Gunners to put Champions League football within sight.
Arsenal, of course, beat West Ham 9-1 earlier this season. That was under their former manager, Matt Beard—now at Bristol. Olli Harder took over in January, but only has one win in ten matches—a 5-0 drubbing of Reading. West Ham’s performances, though, have improved recently, and they are a three-match run of clean sheets, having kept Reading, Aston Villa, and Everton from scoring. Indeed, with 6 points from their last five games, West Ham have the best form of teams in the relegation zone, and have a crucial game on Sunday away at Aston Villa, before playing Manchester City on the final day of the season. Harder has instilled a back three at West Ham, with a lone striker, Martha Thomas, supported by Emily van Egmond in attacking midfield, and a midfield trio of Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Kate Longhurst and Kenza Dali, who scored against Arsenal in September with a long-range strike. Their play has become increasingly direct under Harder—completing under 60% of passes in each of their league games in April—and they look for Thomas to hold play up, while also utilizing her and van Egmond’s strengths on crosses.
Both teams played on Sunday and both have a big game this weekend, but Arsenal should have slightly fresher legs, with West Ham having played midweek last week, and Arsenal have a larger squad.
Likely unchanged from Sunday, which means that Lisa Evans, Jen Beattie, Viki Schnaderbeck, and Fran Stenson are all out. Steph Catley will be on the bench again, having not played against Brighton.
Player to watch:
Katie McCabe’s first appearance of the league season was against West Ham, and it set the tone for her campaign. Coming on for the injured Steph Catley, McCabe assisted two goals from left back—something she’s done 11 times this season. McCabe has had a variety of attackers ahead of her this season, but has combined with all of them. More recently, Jordan Nobbs has played from the left but consistently comes inside, creating space for McCabe to overlap. This might particularly suit Arsenal as they look to create overlaps against West Ham’s narrow midfield four and isolate their wing-back.
Predicted lineup: 18. Williams; 4. Patten, 3. Wubben-Moy, 13. Wälti, 15. McCabe; 10. Little, 7. Van de Donk; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 8. Nobbs; 19. Foord
Substitutes: 1. Zinsberger, 6. Williamson, 12. Catley, 14. Roord, 16. Maritz, 20. Maier, 21. Gut, 29. Goldie
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Women’s Super League
WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WHEN: Wednesday, April 28th 11:30 AM PDT | 2:30 PM EDT | 7:30 PM BST
WATCH: FAPlayer.TV (streaming)