Arsenal were made to pay for failing to land any of the strikers they identified as transfer targets in January as they were held to a goalless draw by a determined West Ham – the first time the Hammers have taken WSL points away from their London counterparts.
Jonas Eidevall’s side caused a stir before the transfer window closed with their pursuit of Manchester United’s Alessia Russo. Both offers were reported as world record fees, the second of them around £500,000.
But they were unable to prize United’s star striker away from Manchester, before then drawing a clean sheet in their first WSL clash since the window closed – also the first time they have failed to score in the league in almost 12 months.
Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold was the hero for Paul Konchesky’s side, who were unfairly denied a first-half penalty when Rafaelle clumsily brought down Dagny Brynjarsdottir, which was missed by all the officials.
The visitors came on strong in the second period, notching a total of nine shots on goal, but were unable to create anything clear with quality in front of goal at a premium. “We have to tweak a few things,” Leah Williamson admitted after the match.
Arnold denied Stina Blackstenius on numerous occasions, while Frida Maanum also missed a number of chances as Arsenal fell further behind leaders Chelsea in the WSL title race – now five points clear but with a game in hand.
How misguided the Gunners fell further behind
Arsenal suffered yet another blow.
The north Londoners were the only side with a 100% WSL away record this season – winning all four games, until they faced a strong and stubborn West Ham side.
Any team would feel the effects of losing attacking pair Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, who were jointly responsible for most of Arsenal’s goals, but the failure to fill the void is beginning to haunt the Gunners.
Lina Hurtig created the most visible opening of the first period when she got to the byline and centrally picked out Blackstenius, who burst aimlessly over the bar from 10 yards (26).
Williamson then flicked a clever pass into the path of Frida Maanum on the move, who was denied by a superb low save from Arnold at her near post (30).
Blackstenius’ effort was blocked by an outstretched boot from Arnold in the second period (65), while Rafaelle was also denied after a clever corner routine as Arnold pushed the defender’s volley impressively clear of danger (75).
The real winners at the weekend were Emma Hayes’ Chelsea, who overcame Spurs to reclaim their place at the top of the table, with Manchester United – and later Arsenal – dropping points.
Eidevall: I can’t fault the performance
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall:
“It was one of those days. We deserved to win the game today, in terms of chances, but if you don’t score it will be a draw.
“I can’t fault our performance. We had a lot of energy and momentum. If we keep that up, I have a lot of confidence in this team. We had a good balance between the center and the wings.
“It’s about control and attacking with balance. We forced them to have 10 players behind the ball, we forced them back. But we lack the finishing quality to score. That’s football. I’d be worried if he didn’t create chances.
“We have good quality. The reason we needed another striker [in the January window] was to face a hectic spring schedule. But I believe in these players.”
Williamson: Hard to get a ‘disappointing’ result
Arsenal midfielder Leah Williamson:
“Sometimes it’s harder to accept when you’re playing well. He was there for us. It’s disappointing, but we don’t have time to dwell on it. When you have such high standards, of course we’re disappointed.
“We know what we have to work on – in the final third we have to tweak a few things. Lessons for us, for sure.
“We dominated the whole game. It’s really annoying. These inches in the final [were lacking]. It is becoming more and more competitive. I think he’ll go to the final game again – which will be good for Sky, not so much for my mum and dad’s heart.’
Konchesky raved about the “fantastic” spot
West Ham manager Paul Konchesky:
“It was fantastic today. The girls had to make a big change. The first point we took away this club.
“It’s a big confidence booster for the team. My mum was here – she almost had a heart attack. It was great to have a big crowd here.
“It’s a massive opportunity for me to manage this club because I’m a big West Ham fan. The positivity goes towards my team and my staff.”
Saturday, February 11, 12:00 p.m
Start 12:30 p.m
Next up is a big weekend of WSL action! City of Manchester host Arsenal on Saturday February 11, live on Sky Sports Footballstart 12.30 pm West Hamin the meantime, have a free weekend.
But if you’re interested in more live action, you can dig deeper Manchester Unitedtrip to Spurs, live on Sky Sports Footballon Sunday 12 February from 11.30am, start time 12pm.