Arsenal beat West Ham 2-0 on the final day of the WSL season, but it was not enough to be crowned league champions after Chelsea came from behind to beat Manchester United.
The Gunners went into the game knowing they had to better Chelsea’s result if they were to lift the WSL title, and although they upheld their side of the bargain, it was not to be as the Blues ran out 4-2 winners over Manchester United.
Arsenal dominated possession in the first half but looked a little ponderous going forward, often enabling a well-drilled West Ham to get 10 players behind the ball and become frustrating to break down.
Beth Mead saw the Gunners’ most clear cut chances of the opening 45, drawing a decent save from Mackenzie Arnold, before glancing a Noelle Maritz cross narrowly wide as the first half finished goalless.
Across in west London, Chelsea were trailing 2-1 at the break, meaning if scores stayed the same, Arsenal would be crowned WSL champions.
Both manager Jonas Eidevall and defender Leah Williamson had stated before the end of season showdown that they would not have an eye on how proceedings were playing out at Kingsmeadow – but the half time scores were also called out by the West Ham stadium announcer as the players were departing the pitch, triggering an eruption of cheers from the Gunners crowd. Jordan Nobbs – sitting out due to injury – and Eidevall could be seen geeing up the fans before going down the tunnel.
Arsenal continued to be frustrated by a stubborn West Ham, and on the hour Caitlin Foord was replaced by Stina Blackstenius. The impact was instant, with the Sweden international netting with her first touch after latching onto Vivianne Miedema’s through ball.
Mead rattled the underside of the bar, before Steph Catley thundered the ball into the roof of the net to double Arsenal’s lead with a fabulous strike.
Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Gilly Flaherty had a pair of headed chances as the game drew to a close, the latter cracking the crossbar, while Nikita Parris almost added a third in stoppage time but was kept out by a goal line clearance from Flaherty.
Chelsea turned things around in the second half to ensure that, although Arsenal took home three points, it would not be enough for them to be crowned WSL champions.
West Ham vs Arsenal: WSL – player ratings
1. West Ham
GK: Mackenzie Arnold – 6/10 – Saved well from Mead in the first half and claimed a couple of testing corner kick deliveries.
RWB: Kate Longhurst – 6/10 – Produced a vital block to deny a goal bound Miedema effort, energetically up and down the right flank all afternoon. Has really impressed in the wing back role this season.
CB: Gilly Flaherty – 6/10 – Made a terrific recovery tackle to halt Mead as she charged clean through in the first half, cracked the cross bar with a header in the second.
CB: Hawa Cissoko – 6/10 – Popped up with a pair of important last ditch tackles to keep out Foord in the opening exchanges. Never shied out of a tackle.
CB: Grace Fisk – 6/10 – Really brave with her distribution, always looking to go forward and break the Arsenal lines
LWB: Zaneta Wyne – 5/10 – Had a tough time of it up against the lively Mead. Replaced just after the hour.
CM: Tameka Yallop – 6/10 – Really effective in the first half, harrying the Arsenal midfield and switching play effectively on a couple of occasions. Faded a bit in the second as Arsenal began to stamp their dominance.
CM: Dagny Brynjarsdottir – 5/10 – Headed West Ham’s best chance just wide after rising highest from a corner. A big shift in the first half, quieter in the second.
CM: Yui Hasegawa – 7/10 – Skilful, energetic and really effective defensively with her reading of the game.
ST: Claudia Walker – 5/10 – Put in an intelligent defensive shift, often sitting in to prevent Walti receiving the ball – but limited in her opportunity to impact the game offensively.
ST: Adriana Leon – 5/10 – Like Walker, did important defensive work with her ability to shield the Arsenal midfield, but largely left to field off scraps going forward.
Sub: Katerina Svitkova – 6/10
Sub: Mel Filis – 5/10
Sub: Grace Garrad – 5/10
Sub: Halle Houssein – 5/10
Sub: Lois Joel – 5/10
GK: Manuela Zinsberger – 6/10 – Nearly put her side in trouble after dithering on the ball in the first half, but otherwise rarely troubled.
RB: Noelle Maritz – 6/10 – Provided a cross from which Mead almost gave Arsenal a first half lead. Typically solid.
CB: Leah Williamson – 7/10 – Thundered into Wyne on the stroke of half time with an impeccably timed tackle, and popped up with a big challenge in the second to halt a potentially dangerous Hammers’ attack.
CB: Lotte Wubben-Moy – 7/10 – Really calm and intelligent with her distribution, solid defensively.
LB: Steph Catley – 7/10 – Doubled Arsenal’s lead with a superb strike, rocketing off the bar into the roof of the net.
CM: Lia Walti – 5/10 – Not able to dictate play as usual, as West Ham looked to quickly harry and close down the Arsenal defensive midfielder.
CM: Kim Little – 6/10 – Always looking to get on the ball, having to frequently drop very deep to receive it. More instrumental in the first half as West Ham’s midfield tired.
CM: Vivianne Miedema – 8/10 – Opened up the West Ham backline with a fabulous cross field pass to Mead inside 10 minutes, set up Mead for Arsenal’s equaliser, caused trouble all afternoon with her clever footwork.
RW: Beth Mead – 7/10 – Glanced a header just wide, saw a strike well saved and poked narrowly over in the first half, largely carrying the Gunner’s biggest attacking threat. Rattled the underside of the bar in the second.
ST: Caitlin Foord – 5/10 – Denied by a Cissoko block early in the first half, buth otherwise kept quiet before being replaced on the hour.
LW: Katie McCabe – 6/10 – Dabbled on the right for a spell in the first half. Typically energetic, not as heavily involved as Mead on the opposite flank
Sub: Stina Blackstenius – 7/10 – Changed the game, opening the scoring within 30 seconds of entering the fray with a characteristically calm finish.
Sub: Nikita Parris – 6/10
Sub: Frida Maanum – N/A
The Huracan Foundations’ ‘Keep girls in school in 2022’ aims to improve opportunities for girls and reduce gender inequalities.