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Arsenal Women vs West Ham United: Three things to watch for, how to watch WSL live

Arsenal look to make it 8 wins in a row.

Southampton F.C. v Arsenal Women - FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Arsenal Women look to make it 8 wins from 8 in all competitions as the Gunners face West Ham United on Sunday. Arsenal have won 5 straight in the WSL to take themselves three points behind Chelsea, who they play after the international break that starts on Monday. A win against West Ham, then, is of paramount importance to keep Arsenal in touching distance of Chelsea. Here are three things to watch for:

Breaking down West Ham block

West Ham will come to Meadow Park almost surely playing a low block. West Ham don’t really press, and have the fewest tackles and interceptions per 90, despite having the third fewest amount of possession in the league. West Ham have conceded 16 goals but their underlying numbers are better than their performance so far, with the Irons conceding nearly 7 goals more than they should have based on expected goals. Arsenal have struggled to break down low blocks, with Liverpool, Aston Villa, and Bristol City all doing well to contain Arsenal for large portions of games. Part of Arsenal’s struggles has been the balance of the attack, which is starting to get better.

Russo penalty box touches

Another factor, though, is the penalty box touches of Alessia Russo. Arsenal’s big summer signing has scored two WSL goals this season, but has also done so much to help the attack. A lot of that work, though, has been outside the box. Speaking before the game, Jonas Eidevall has called Russo one of the “best” finishers he’s ever worked with — high praise considering that he’s worked with Vivianne Miedema. Russo, though, has only taken 2.58 shots per 90; fewer than Stina Blackstenius, Frida Maanum, and Caitlin Foord, and only a fraction more than Cloé Lacasse and Katie McCabe. Only 10% of Russo’s touches—28 out of 283—have been in the penalty box, whereas 28% of Blackstenius’ touches have been in the box.

Part of that is more discipline for Russo, as well as getting the ball into her more quickly and earlier. But part of that is also an awareness of taking up positions in the box when Russo vacates. In that sense, Frida Maanum is perhaps the perfect foil for Russo, but because of the necessary creativity, it is likely than Victoria Pelova will start as the #10.

Mead versus Lacasse

Beth Mead started last weekend against Brighton, her first start in the WSL in a year after her ACL injury. Lacasse, who had been starting on the right hand side, came on for Mead and then started against Southampton in Conti Cup action midweek, suggesting that Mead will start against West Ham.

While perhaps harsh on Lacasse, who has scored two, assisted two, and won a penalty in under 3 full 90s, it also signifies the strength of Arsenal’s bench. Lacasse and Maanum added to Arsenal’s performance last weekend, helping Arsenal turn a 1-0 lead into a comfortable 3-0 win. The bench has also come to the fore throughout the season, especially with Arsenal’s propensity for comebacks.

Predicted lineup (4231): 1. Zinsberger; 15. McCabe, 28. Ilestedt, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley; 32. Cooney-Cross, 13. Wälti; 9. Mead, 21. Pelova, 19. Foord; 23. Russo
Substitutes: 14. d’Angelo (GK), 5. Beattie, 10. Little, 11. Miedema, 12. Maanum, 16. Maritz, 22. Kühl, 25. Blackstenius, 27. Codina

WHAT: Arsenal Women v West Ham United Women, WSL

WHEN: Sunday, November 26th, 9:00 AM EST/6:00 AM PST/2:00 PM GMT

WHERE: Meadow Park, Borehamwood

HOW TO WATCH: FA Player (Streaming)