Little’s brace keeps Gooners top of the pile in 4-0 win over West Ham
By Football Reporter
Arsenal 4 West Ham 0
Captain Kim Little made it 50 goals in the Barclays FA WSL as Arsenal continued their winning streak with a 4-0 victory over West Ham at Meadow Park.
Little scored a double in her 98th BFAWSL appearance while Beth Mead’s second-half strike and a devastating Hammers own goal sealed the Gunners' sixth league win and fifth clean sheet in a row.
It was a fast start for Arsenal as Mead and Mana Iwabuchi had multiple chances, but West Ham’s defensive line just about held firm in the early going.
Although they were the dominant side, the Gunners lacked a clinical edge as they saw shots hit the woodwork and fly wide.
But the Hammers defence began to falter as they struggled to clear the ball and Nikita Parris came agonisingly close to opening the scoring after Mead’s effort came back off the post.
Eventually, the first goal inevitably came when skipper Little broke the deadlock on 39 minutes, slotting the ball past a helpless Mackenzie Arnold after Mead’s run.
Little continued her scoring antics in the second half, cutting in from the right and hitting a stunning strike into the roof of the net on 52 minutes in to notch her 50th BFAWSL goal.
Less than ten minutes later, Mead broke through one-on-one with keeper Arnold after a great ball across by Parris and she found the net.
Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall was hungry for more, bringing on Vivianne Miedema two minutes later, but it was an own goal off Grace Fisk’s boot that took Arsenal to four in the 84th minute - keeping them top of the table with a perfect record of six wins from six.
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Arsenal goalscorer Kim Little: “I didn’t know that [50th WSL goal] so that’s nice! But obviously more importantly we got the win and three points tonight.
“We have starters in the game and we have finishers and they’re the same level so we start the game strongly and we finish it as strong and you can really see that in our performances. We went 1-0 up at half time but then we won the game 4-0 because we came out of the second half so strongly.
On Jonas: “I think naturally when a new manager comes in, it can change the way you play and the way you think and Jonas has definitely done that. We’ve got slightly different tactics and formation, especially in midfield. We’re a bit more expansive, a bit more on the front foot, our counter pressers are more aggressive so for me, it is quite different from what we’ve played in the past at Arsenal. It’s really enjoyable and as a player, it puts you out your comfort zone and make you push yourself a bit further and you can really see that in the way the team’s playing right now.
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall: “I think Kim Little was brilliant. She’s so dynamic in midfield, both with the defensive runs that she takes – her defensive positioning is really gluing the different units together. But also her dynamics when she gets on the ball – she can run with it, she can pass with it, she can combine with it. She’s a very very hard player to defend. She played a huge part in the victory today.
On fifth straight clean sheet: “Another clean sheet means a lot. Clean sheets win games and it’s very very important. Everything in football starts with having a solid defence and not conceding easy goals so that’s very very important and I want us to work hard every game to keep the clean sheet.
On using squad to full degree: “It helps a lot. With a number of games that we have been playing since Champions League qualifiers, and our players are very much used in different national teams as well. Obviously that helps us prepare the team for future games and it’s also a sign of us having a lot of available players – that I have been able to play a lot of players. That works hand in hand because it also means that we can keep players available for the future because we can keep the load better so it’s a positive circle that we’ll try to keep.”
Arsenal (4-3-3): 1 Manuela Zinsberger; 16 Noëlle Maritz, 6 Leah Williamson, 3 Lotte Wubben-Moy, 15 Kate McCabe; 23 Mana Iwabuchi, 10 Kim Little, 12 Frida Maanum; 9 Beth Mead, 19 Caitlin Foord, 14 Nikita Parris
Substitutes: 11 Vivianne Miedema for Foord 63, 13 Lia Walti for Little 63, 8 Jordan Nobbs for Iwabuchi 71, 20 Simone Boye Sorensen for Williamson 71, 7 Steph Catley for Parris 74
Substitutes not used: 4 Anna Patten; 18 Lydia Williams; 28 Fran Stenson
Goals: Little 39, 52, Mead 61
Bookings: McCabe 90+2
West Ham (3-4-3): 1 Mackenzie Arnold; 23 Hawa Cissoko, 5 Gilly Flaherty, 12 Kate Longhurst; 10 Katerina Svitkova, 13 Tameka Yallop, 32 Dagny Brynjarsdóttir, 2 Zaneta Wyne; 14 Yui Hasegawa, 9 Claudia Walker, 4 Abbey-Leigh Stringer
Substitutes: 22 Grace Fisk for Cissoko 45, 17 Melisa Filis for Brynjarsdóttir 66, 15 Lucy Parker for Wyne 72, 25 Grace Garrad for Walker 90+2, 20 Lois Joel for Longhurst 90+2
Substitutes not used: 18 Anna Leat; 24 Brooke Cairns
Goals: Fisk (own goal) 84
Bookings: Cissoko 14
Referee: Kirsty Dowle