The final London derby in the Women’s Super League before the international break took centre stage at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon. Jonas Eidevall’s side came into this on the back on seven successive wins in all competitions and looked to keep pace with table-toppers Chelsea, while West Ham had lost four on the bounce across league and cup.
ARS: Zinsberger; McCabe, Ilestedt, Wubben-Moy, Catley; Cooney-Cross, Pelova; Foord, Maanum, Mead; Russo
WHU: Walsh; Shimizu, Hayashi, Tysiak, Cissoko, Smith; Stringer, Harries, Evans; Asseyi, Ueki
A wintery afternoon in Elstree began with the Gunners dominating possession and threatening from the off, as Caitlin Foord won an early corner which did – eventually – provide a very early opener inside two minutes.
The corner was cleared by the West Ham defence, but from just outside the box, Frida Maanum’s cross into the area went all the way in to the back of the net, leaving debutant goalkeeper Megan Walsh stunned and helpless.Embed from Getty Images
Rehanne Skinner’s side almost found an instant equaliser with just five minutes gone, but Vivienne Asseyi’s header found the near post rather than the bottom corner, albeit leaving Manuela Zinsberger panicked.
Megan Walsh looked set to have a busy afternoon in the West Ham goal so far, and her latest action saw her keep out Caitlin Ford’s excellent low effort just moments later.
With just 18 minutes gone, the Gunners doubled their lead, and it was a wonderful moment for Beth Mead, as she was on the scoresheet once again. A great ball forward by midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross was taken down brilliantly by Mead down the right hand side. The England international then made a run forward and fired the ball past Hammers goalkeeper Walsh – a moment which Mead’s teammates relished, knowing how long she’d been out for.
Mead’s international colleague Alessia Russo could have made it three shortly after, but the Arsenal striker was halted by the offside flag. Russo had another chance to add a third to Arsenal’s name with just over half an hour gone, but an excellent last-minute tackle from Hawa Cissoko kept the Gunners’ advantage at two.
With just five minutes to go until half-time, Arsenal made it three to the good, and it saw some excellent play from Alessia Russo in the build-up. The England international’s run down the left hand side ended with Russo cutting the ball back to Mead, who at the second time of asking, slotted home her second of the afternoon to cap off an excellent first half for the Gunners.Embed from Getty Images
The second half almost kicked off perfectly for West Ham and Vivienne Asseyi, but the striker’s attempt was deflected onto the far post and cleared by Steph Catley.
Despite Arsenal’s comfortable advantage, West Ham remained resilient and dominated the opening minutes of the second half, with crosses from Lisa Evans and Emma Harries both unfortunately coming to nothing for the Hammers.
However, with that improved second-half performance from Rehanne Skinner’s side, the only clear-cut chance came via Hawa Sissoko, whose close-range effort from a corner had to be prevented from nestling in the back of the net through a combination of brilliant defending by Steph Catley and a safe collection for Manuela Zinsberger.
Following the international break, Jonas Eidevall’s Gunners take on table-toppers Chelsea on December 10th at 12:30pm, while West Ham welcome Everton to the Chigwell Construction Stadium later that same day at 3pm.