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Arsenal Women vs West Ham United: 3 things to watch for, how to watch live

Arsenal face West Ham on Sunday.

Arsenal Women Training Session Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal Women travel to Dagenham to play West Ham United on Sunday at lunchtime. The early fixture gives Arsenal the opportunity to at least go level on points with Chelsea ahead of their later fixture. Arsenal beat West Ham in November, but West Ham made several signings in January, adding Shelina Zadorsky, Katrina Gorry, and Kristie Mewis. Here are three things to watch:

Breaking it down

West Ham made significant additions in midfield in the January transfer window, adding more prowess to their ball playing. With Gorry and Mewis in midfield and Vivianne Asseyi and Riko Ueki upfront, West Ham should carry a significant counter-attacking threat. However, West Ham will play a deep block, with only Bristol City and Brighton controlling fewer zones. The task for Arsenal, then, will be to break down West Ham’s defence. Last week’s task against Liverpool was complicated by player-marking; against West Ham in November, Arsenal were successful with quick switches of play from left to right.

More Russo shots

Alessia Russo set up Caitlin Foord’s goal last week, with a well timed run and good cross across the box that Foord could tap in. It was a good assist from Russo, who generally had a good game. Yet, Russo had 1 shot, accumulated 0.03 xG, which stands in comparison to Stina Blackstenius, who as the substitute for Russo, had .5 xG, and 3 shots. Some of that was gamestate: Arsenal were 2-0 up, Russo went off shortly after the second goal, and Liverpool tried to attack a little bit more. Part of that is also stylistic: Blackstenius stretches defences more than Russo, who creates space for Arsenal’s other forwards—Mead, Foord, and even Vivianne Miedema. Yet, Russo is taking over a shot less than she did last year, and there are situations where she should shoot, rather than try to set up her teammates. Much like the men’s first time, one thing Arsenal could benefit from is more shots against deep blocks, and firmer decision making in the penalty box.

Containing the counter

In November, West Ham were dangerous. Asseyi hit the woodwork twice, and West Ham actually accumlated more xG than Arsenal, though with Arsenal up 3-0 at half time, it didn’t matter much. But West Ham present Arsenal with a possible unique threat in Ueki, who holds the ball well, and Asseyi, who can play wide or through the middle, and offers a huge threat carrying the ball and in behind, as well as being a clinical finisher. West Ham have often played a 532, and did so in November. Playing that system means putting two strikers against Amanda Ilestedt and Lotte Wubben-Moy, which they face very infrequently. It could cause Arsenal to alter some aspect of their style, with perhaps Steph Catley tucking slightly in from left back, or Lia Wälti dropping deeper to give Arsenal numerical superiority. It also means Arsenal need to be concious about their defensive line—which has been breached at least once a match in the last month and a half.

Predicted lineup (4231): 1. Zinsberger; 2. Fox, 28. Ilestedt, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley; 21. Pelova, 13. Wälti; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 19. Foord; 23. Russo

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Substitutes: 14. D’Angelo (GK), 6. Williamson, 10. Little 12. Maanum, 24. Lacasse, 25. Blackstenius, 27. Codina, 32. Cooney-Cross, 86. Bouhaddi

WHAT: West Ham United Women v Arsenal Women, WSL

WHEN: Sunday, February 4th, 7:30 AM EST/4:30 AM PST/12:30 PM GMT

WHERE: Chigwell Construction Stadium, Dagenham

HOW TO WATCH: Paramount+ (US, streaming), BBC 2 (UK), BBC iPlayer (UK, streaming)