Arsenal edge closer to Champions League qualification with win over West Ham
- Credit: PA
Arsenal moved a step closer to securing Champions League football for next season with a 2-0 win over London rivals West Ham on Wednesday night at Meadow Park.
The Gunners moved three points ahead of Manchester United in the race for third place in what was a professional performance from the north Londoners.
Arsenal went close to opening the scoring with just four minutes played as Noelle Maritz crossed for Caitlin Foord who's header was tipped over by Mackenzie Arnold in the Hammers goal.
Kate Longhurst was lucky she wasn't in the book on six minutes as she whiped out Katie McCabe but the referee opted to keep the cards in her pocket.
Arsenal then carved out another big opening on 12 minutes when Vivianne Miedema crossed for McCabe who made a darting run to the back-post and she drilled her effort wide of the target.
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The Gunners however did have the ball in the net in the 15th minute when Miedema once again got a cross into the area for Caitlin Foord who flicked the ball towards goal but it was saved by Arnold she could have bundled the loose ball home but Nobbs got there first and made sure it found the net but the flag was up to deny the England International her fourth goal in three games.
West Ham were frustrating Arsenal not allowing the home side to create any real clear-cut chances as they held firm not allowing Montemurro's troops to play through them.
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With 31 minutes on the clock the north Londoner's did carve out a good opportunity when Miedema was picked out by a smart Beth Mead back-heel but could only fire into the side-netting.
A minute later the ball was in the net for Arsenal as Miedema netted her 18th of the season in the WSL as she picked the ball up from just outside the area and hit a stunning strike into the top corner of the net.
That goal was exactly what Arsenal needed to settle them down as they came close to doubling their advantage when Miedema let fly from range once more before it took a deflection off Gilly Flaherty and sailed wide.
On the stroke of half-time Olli Harder's side had a glorious chance to equalise when Dagný Brynjarsdóttir met a cross from the right and headed wide of the target when she was completely unmarked.
Arsenal began the second half on top as they had a second goal disallowed when Foord met a low cross from Nobbs, flicking the ball through the legs of Arnold but she was denied by the offside flag.
Arnold was called into action once again as Mead met a low fizzed in cross from McCabe before taking a touch but she was denied by the keeper before Mead eventually fouled the stopper.
Arnold then made another save when Miedema played in Mead one on one before she unselfishly squared the ball for Foord that was cut-out by the goalkeeper when Mead should have shot herself.
The Australian international Arnold who shipped 9 against the Gunners in September then made yet another top save when Foord her international teammate was played in before sliding her effort in goal but the keeper did well to make the save with her feet.
On 72 minutes Montemurro made his first change of the match as Jill Roord who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture came on to replace Nobbs.
Mead could have sealed the three points when Foord attempted to pick her out at the back-post however the ball was hit beyond her and sailed away to safety for West Ham.
However Arsenal did score their second in the 78th minute when Miedema played a beautiful ball into McCabe who played a cross field pass to Maritz and she flicked the ball into Little who ran onto it and she jinked her way into the box before slotting into the corner of the net intelligently from a tight angle.
West Ham didn't lay down and let their heads drop as they created a big chance to pull a goal back when Anouk Denton who's on loan from Arsenal crossed for Scottish International Martha Thomas and her header was superbly saved by the flying reflexes of Lydia Williams in the Gunners goal.
Montemurro decided to shake things up as he brought on Anna Patten and Danielle van de Donk replacing Mead and Maritz to see out the last few minutes of the game.
Arsenal had another chance to put the icing on the cake when Foord crossed for Roord and she slid in but her effort lacked power and the ball sailed into the hands of Arnold.
The Gunners had the final chance of the game when Miedema had a shot deflected wide by Grace Fisk and from the resulting corner Leah Williamson who has scored two goals against West Ham in her WSL career headed inches wide of the target.
That win for Arsenal made it eight wins in a row in all competitions as they've also kept eight clean-sheets in the process.
Arsenal: Williams, Maritz (Patten 85), Williamson, Wubben-Moy, McCabe, Nobbs (Roord 72), Little, Wälti, Mead (van de Donk 85),Miedema, Foord.
Unused substitutes: Zinsberger, Catley, Maier, Goldie, Gut.