Arsenal’s hopes of securing the title and a spot in the Champions League were dealt a major blow on Sunday after a frustrating 0-0 draw against a resolute West Ham side.
Despite dominating the game with 21 shots to West Ham’s two, Arsenal were unable to break down the Hammers’ defence and secure the three points.
The statistics highlight the lack of quality in front of goal for Arsenal, as despite having a higher xG of 1.6 compared to West Ham’s 0.1, the final ball and finishing were missing.
This difference between great and good teams was clear to see on the night, with the extra quality in the attacking third lacking for Arsenal.
The starting XI for Arsenal reflected the changes in style that have taken place under manager Jonas Eidevall, who has transformed the team from a possession-based side under Joe Montemurro to a defensively proactive, high pressing, counter-attacking side.
The players brought in by Eidevall fit the scheme well and have been successful in 90% of situations. However, the absence of key players like Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead was felt on the night, as they both possess the skills to break down a deep block defence.
Arsenal’s play focused heavily on the wings, with Foord and Hurtig leading the charge. However, the full backs didn’t overlap as much as they could have, resulting in a lack of crosses and a congested central area. To break down these defences, it would be wise to have a centre-forward who can hold the ball with their back to goal and provide a different attacking threat.
Eidevall made four attacking substitutions in the game, changing the two full-backs and two wingers. However, Foord, who had worked hard on the wing, was less effective as a centre-forward due to fatigue.
The manager’s choice of starting Blackstenius and Maanum up top wasn’t the wrong one, as they have delivered in the past, but a bit more flexibility in certain situations would help the team. The recent additions of Pelova, Kühl, and Gio, all of whom are expected to contribute from the bench, would provide the needed flexibility in these types of situations.
The “second forward” option could have been Pelova rather than move her to the left wing, she can be effective, but not as creative as she can be as a 10. That analysis clearly shows where she can be the most effective and it does not look like it is the left wing.
Kim Little’s ability in tight space could also be an option for the last ten minutes, but obviously she plays a lot deeper nowadays. We did see her go forward a bit more late in the game as West Ham where defending with nine players.
Arsenal’s next game against Manchester City will be crucial in deciding the team’s fate in the title race, and the manager must make the right decisions in terms of resting players for this must-win game.
The league table looks grim for Arsenal right now, and any result other than a win against City will likely mean the end of their title hopes.
It’s a crucial moment in Arsenal’s season, and the players and manager must be at their best to secure the three points and keep their title dreams alive.