Arsenal travel to West Ham United in their first away game of the new 2020-21 Women’s Super League season.
After a 6-1 rout over Reading last weekend the Gunners will be full of confidence going to the Chigwell Construction Stadium home of Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday evening.
West Ham started with a 1-1 draw away at Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday as Canadian international Adriana Leon scored a stunning equaliser minutes after Spurs took the lead.
The match will be played infront of 1,000 spectators as part of the government’s latest pilot scheme allowing people to attend sporting events.
It will be the first competitive football match staged in England with fans present since the coronavirus lockdown in March.
After the Reading game Montemurro said “We can do even better than this, we have to keep our standards very very high. They pressed us very high at the beginning of the first half and at the start of the second half, they are a very well organised pressing team and we had to find solutions”
“It’s the first game of the season and we are on our trajectory to make sure we get things done and I am proud of the team.”
Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns Lydia Williams remains out with an ankle injury as Jennifer Beattie is unlikely to make it with a back injury she sustained against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
The Gunners are boosted however by the return of Katie McCabe as she returns from suspension that saw her miss out against Reading last weekend.
It is unlikely Joe Montemurro will make any changes from the side that saw off the challenge from Reading so easily as he sticks with his 4-1-4-1 formation.
Leah Williamson could push higher up once again and dictate the tempo of the game like she did against the Royals.
Lia Wälti will anchor the midfield with Kim Little and Jill Roord who scored a hat-trick last time out playing ahead of her with Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs occupying the wide areas.
Last seasons Golden Boot winner Vivianne Miedema who scored two last weekend will lead the line for the North London side.
West Ham could hand a full debut to England International Rachel Daly as she came on at the start of the second half last Sunday.
Matt Beard set his side up in a 4-3-3 formation in that Tottenham Hotspur fixture with Alisha Lehmann, Adriana Leon and Leanne Kieran leading the attack for the Hammers.
They made eight summer signings as Mackenzie Arnold, Daly, Maz Pacheco, Hawa Cissoko, Ruby Grant, Nor Mustafa, Emily Van Egmond and Kateřina Svitková all moved to East London.
Cissoko and Scottish International striker Martha Thomas will be unavailable for this weekends clash.
French international Cissoko has undergone surgery and will be out for approximately eight weeks.
Thomas is out with an ankle injury she sustained during a pre-season game.
When They Last Met
Arsenal met West Ham United twice in the curtailed 2019-20 season. They met on the opening day of the season at Meadow Park with Arsenal winning 2-1 thanks to Beth Mead and Jill Roord goals, Roord scoring on her competitive Arsenal debut against the Hammers.
They also met in the FA Cup last January with Arsenal winning 2-0 as Katie McCabe and Lia Wälti’s first ever goal for the Gunners saw them comfortably through into the next round of the cup.
West Ham have never beaten Arsenal in the WSL but they did give the Gunners an almighty scare in January 2019 as Arsenal went behind but came back to win 4-2 thanks to goals from Leah Williamson, Janni Arnth and a Danielle van de Donk brace.
Potential Match Winners
Kim Little – Little began the season with a goal after a tremendous pass from Leah Williamson to get the season off to the best possible start. West Ham are a well-organised side and will be hard to break down so Little with her passing will be key. Little is crucial to how Arsenal press and she moves the ball very well and can break the lines at ease. Last season she scored five league goals and registered two assists while she created 35 chances. Out of her 15 shots on goal, 11 were on target.
Jill Roord – Roord is fresh off a hat-trick against Reading so will be coming into this game with so much confidence. She already bettered her goal scoring record in the WSL from her first season at the club. Montemurro said after the game on Sunday “When I signed Jill I saw someone special and I saw someone with immense ability especially to find space, but also to play higher up, protect the ball and find the pass, which is very important”. I think it was three or four times in the first half where she just stayed in an area because we had the ability to prepare and build up and find her in very dangerous areas in between lines. She did very, very well during the game.”
Alisha Lehmann – West Ham’s Swiss International Alisha Lehmann could be a real danger for Arsenal. Lehmann netted three goals last season in the league but she is quick and direct and always gives the opposition defence a tough game. She also grabbed 2 assists which is lower than expected as she links play very well, she is one of the most dangerous players in the division when she cuts inside to have a shot at goal.
Adriana Leon – The Canadian scored West Ham’s opening goal of the new season, another dangerous attacker with an eye for goal she is one Arsenal have to keep an eye on. She scored five league goals last season and created 23 chances, she’s also comfortable in her passing ability as she played 172 passes out of then 3 were key passes.
How to Watch
The match will be broadcast live on BT Sport on Saturday evening with a 17.20 kick-off time.